House looks to rebuild as military warns of shortfalls
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that a new Congress and president could begin repairing the military this year as uniformed leaders again painted a grim picture of depleted forces.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, pointed to Congress’ defense spending caps and its inability to pass timely budgets, and vice chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force backed that view in testimony, saying forces are stretched far too thin and hamstrung by the uncertainty of funding.
Only three out of 58 of the Army’s brigade combat teams are ready to “fight tonight,” and 53 percent of Navy aircraft are not ready to fly today, according to the testimony.
The Air Force and Marine Corps also described shrinking, ill-maintained and less ready forces.
The Armed Services Committee under Thornberry is embarking on another effort this year to boost military funding, and President Donald Trump has made a defense buildup a priority. The Pentagon gave Congress an informal proposal Tuesday to boost this year’s defense spending by $30 billion for aircraft, armored vehicles and training, according to the Associated Press.
But the defense caps are set to hold down defense spending again this year and partisan divisions on Capitol Hill are likely to make a solution difficult.
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