Holdovers from the Obama administration in the Pentagon are hampering efforts to fix the military’s major readiness problem, leaving Secretary of Defense James Mattis alone in his efforts to properly equip U.S. forces, according to the chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services.
“I am concerned that … to fix these problems [it] is going to take a lot more money, and yet a lot of the folks who are coming up with the budget to fix them are the same people who have been fighting every step of the way against our efforts to fix these problems,” said Chairman Mac Thornberry during a Capitol Hill press gaggle Thursday.
Thornberry noted that Mattis is “alone” in his attempts to alleviate the readiness problem at the Pentagon. He added that there are some people, including “political appointees and others from the Obama administration,” who have been “trying to deny there was a problem.”
The Vice Joint Chiefs of Staff warned the armed services committee last week that the lack of military readiness across all branches was putting the military’s capabilities at risk. Their reports revealed, among other substantial problems, only three of 58 Army brigade combat teams are ready for combat, while fewer than half of the Air Force’s aging aircraft fleet is ready to fight.
Thornberry emphasized that Mattis can’t solve the problem by himself, and that the slow process of filling defense roles at the Pentagon is preventing the Trump administration from fulfilling its promise to rebuild the military. He also said the the issue goes beyond budgets, and that the U.S. has a moral obligation to support the troops.
“I think it is wrong, immoral to ask men and women to go carry out a military mission for which they are not fully equipped, and fully trained, and fully supported,” said Thornberry. “And whether that is a counter-terrorism operation or a freedom of navigation operation in the south China sea, or whatever; if you ask somebody to go out there and risk their lives, you darn well better give them the best and fully support them.”