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Increasing the Size of the American Military
The most important weapons in the U.S. arsenal are the men and women of American armed forces. John McCain believes we must enlarge the size of our armed forces to meet new challenges to our security. For too long, we have asked too much of too few – with the result that many service personnel are on their second, third and even fourth tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. There can be no higher defense priority than the proper compensation, training, and equipping of our troops.
Our existing force is overstretched by the combination of military operations in the broader Middle East and the need to maintain our security commitments in Europe and Asia. Recruitment and retention suffer from extended overseas deployments that keep service personnel away from their homes and families for long periods of time.
John McCain believes that the answer to these challenges is not to roll back our overseas commitments. The size and composition of our armed forces must be matched to our nation’s defense requirements. As requirements expand in the global war on terrorism so must our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard be reconfigured to meet these new challenges. John McCain thinks it is especially important to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps to defend against the threats we face today.
John McCain knows that the most difficult and solemn decision a president must make is sending young Americans into harm’s way. Having experienced firsthand the brutality of war, as president, John McCain would never make the decision to use force lightly, only when the cause is just, and our nation’s values and interests absolutely demand it.
Senator, with all due respect, where are all these soldiers going to come from? The Surge was a brilliant tactic, and of course, more may seem always better when it comes to a fight, but we are thinking that we just don’t have the financial ability to sustain it anymore. If you are going to reduce spending, you can’t indefinitely increase the size of the military. We think you should be talking about energy independence as a way of getting ourselves out of harm’s way.
Modernizing the Armed Services
Modernizing American armed forces involves procuring advanced weapons systems that will help rapidly and decisively defeat any adversary and protect American lives. It also requires addressing force protection needs to make sure that America’s combat personnel have the best safety and survivability equipment available.
Modernizing the armed forces also means adapting our doctrine, training, and tactics for the kind of conflicts we are most likely to face. Today, American forces are engaged in dangerous operations throughout the world. From Iraq and Afghanistan to Somalia and the Philippines, American forces are fighting the battles of the 21st century against terrorists and insurgents. These asymmetric conflicts require a very different force structure than the one we used to fight and win the Cold War.
The missions of the 21st century will not center on traditional territorial defense or mass armor engagements. Instead, the men and women of the U.S. armed forces will be engaged in, among other things, counter insurgency, counter terrorism, missile defense, counter proliferation and information warfare. This calls not just for a larger and more capable military, but for a new mix of military forces, including civil affairs, special operations, and highly mobile forces capable of fighting and prevailing in the conflicts America faces.
We worry about all this talk of a bigger and bigger military. We need to reign in spending, and this speaks to spending huge.
Smarter Defense Spending
John McCain has worked aggressively to reform the defense budgeting process to ensure that America enjoys the best military at the best cost. This includes reforming defense procurement to ensure the faithful and efficient expenditure of taxpayer dollars that are made available for defense acquisition. Too often, parochial interests – rather than the national interest – have guided our spending decisions. John McCain supports significant reform in our defense acquisition process to ensure that dollars spent actually contribute to U.S. security.
John McCain also feels strongly that our nation’s military spending, except in time of genuine emergency, must be funded by the regular appropriations process, not by “emergency” supplementals that allow defense to be funded outside the normal budget cycle. This process gives Congressional committees less ability to closely scrutinize defense budget requests to ensure military funding is being budgeted wisely. It makes possible Congressional pork-barrel spending that diverts scarce defense resources to parochial home-state interests. And it allows the administration to add spending above that set by budget caps, bloating the federal deficit. Budgeting annually through emergency supplemental appropriation bills encourages pork barrel spending. The American taxpayer has a right to expect us to get the most out of each and every defense dollar, especially at a time when those dollars are so critical. Throughout his career, John McCain has fought pork-barrel defense spending that diverts scarce defense resources to parochial, home-state projects rather than addressing the needs of service personnel. He believes that unauthorized earmarks drain our precious defense resources and adversely affect our national security. John McCain will continue to fight pork-barrel spending to ensure that military funds are spent where they are needed most – in support of our military personnel and our national defense.
We think our national deficit and energy independence are more important. “It’s energy independence, stupid” is our mantra. We believe that military spending should not be cut abruptly because it is a major facet of our economy and technological advances. But we do think we ought to cool it for a while. If you fight pork-barrel spending, then we think you should feed it into the economy not the military.
Taking Care of Our Military Personnel and their Families
Our military personnel and their families deserve the nation’s unfailing gratitude, respect, and support. As a former naval officer with a distinguished record of military service, John McCain understands the profound sacrifices made by our men and women who serve in the uniform of our country and their families.
He believes one of America’s most solemn obligations is to treat our military personnel with the same sense of devotion and duty as they demonstrate in rendering their service to the nation. John McCain has fought for improved military pay and benefits, and an improved quality of life for military families.
America’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan rely heavily on Reserve and National Guard forces. John McCain has worked hard to ensure that benefits for deployed Reservists and National Guardsmen are brought in line with our active-duty military forces.
As president, he will make sure that just as we are always proud of our military personnel for what they do for the country, the country can be proud of what we do for them.
Honoring our Nation’s Commitments to Veterans and Military Retirees
Sounds good, just don’t forget the rest of America in the process.
John McCain has worked tirelessly to protect increased benefits for America’s veterans. He understands that our country has a duty to care for veterans who have honorably served. John McCain will continue to look out for the men and women who have answered our nation’s call.
America must never leave its military retirees in any doubt that it will keep its commitments to them for their many years of faithful service. John McCain has been a champion of military retirees in the Senate and believes that it is especially important to ensure retired service personnel enjoy full health care and benefits comparable to that received by retired federal employees. John McCain understands that a key to recruiting and retaining a new generation of American military personnel is demonstrating that our government keeps its promises to retired service members. He will remain an unwavering champion for the rights of military retirees and their families.
Veterans are important, no doubt. Our soldiers too. We honor them and you Senator, but we would prefer to have fewer of them if you get our drift.
After carefully reviewing the candidate’s positions, we find Obama’s position totally unrealistic. His time-table for getting out of Iraq ignores the success of the Surge while his planned move into Afghanistan implies the Surge would work there as well. He seems to imply that he knows better than our trained tactical strategists and soldiers on the ground, and the only backing he can give for his argument is a Major General that happens to already be a political advisor.
We don’t care for the concept of growing our military in this environment. We think that is an area McCain needs to rethink. But we do think McCain knows much more about what he speaks than Obama in this specific area. We believe that risking the success of the Surge is reckless. We believe threatening Pakistan hardly practical. And we think the dangers in the region to a stable Iraq are vastly greater than Obama thinks.
We would recommend to both candidates that they look for financial assistance in this war. In the first war on Iraq we had financial help that amounted to billions from our allies. If, as Obama claims, there is a nearly 60 billion dollar trade surplus in Iraq, then we would like to see at least half of the cost of making Iraq secure come from Iraq.
Round Eight: McCain