Readiness Will Be the Buzz Word
In Fiscal ’ 18 Budget Discussions
It’s all about readiness as work gets under
way on Capitol Hill on the fiscal 2018 budget, with President Donald J. Trump’s
administration and hawkish lawmakers
pointing to wear and tear on the military to
justify buying more planes, ships and other
equipment than they otherwise could afford
under existing budget caps.
Readiness was once a word used to describe essentials, like training and ammunition and upkeep on
existing platforms — mostly items found in the
military’s expansive operations and maintenance
accounts. Over the years, however, the word increasingly has been used as a descriptor for everything from
personnel to high-tech new weaponry, essentially
encompassing anything in the Pentagon budget.
Indeed, Trump used the military’s sagging readiness rates as his primary justification for blowing past
caps on defense spending by some $54 billion next year.
While the precise details of the proposed budget have
not yet been released, the White House already has made
clear it intends to invest heavily in big-ticket items like
ships and fourth- and fifth-generation fighters.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the House and Senate
Armed Services Committees have argued that Trump’s
military spending increase is simply too paltry. Citing
readiness as their own biggest concern, they want to
see the Defense Department’s base budget swell to
$640 billion next year — $37 billion more than Trump
plans to request.
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry
opened an April 5 hearing stating that there is widespread agreement that years of budget caps, coupled with
several stop-gap continuing resolutions and an intense
pace of operations overseas, have damaged the military.
“I believe that damage has gone far deeper than
most of us realize, requiring more time and more
money to repair than is generally expected,” the Texas
Republican said. “There’s plenty of responsibility to go
around for the current state of affairs.”
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson says demands on the
naval force increased during the administration of former President
Barack Obama and will continue to do so in the future, making an
investment in Navy assets critical. Richardson is shown here speaking
April 3 during the Cohen Group breakfast event at the Navy League’s
Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Md.