US Defense Chief Dismayed by Poor State of US Combat Readiness
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is blaming the Republican-dominated Congress for what he termed as the "shockingly poor state of combat readiness" of the United States Armed Forces.
Mattis said he was "shocked" by the sad state of the U.S. military's readiness for combat when he took over as defense secretary.
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In a recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Mattis assailed the House of Representatives for repeatedly approving short-term spending measures that provide too little money for the armed forces.
As a result of this drip, drip, drip of funding, commanders of the armed forces' service branches are unable to adequately prepare their troops for battle in the face of threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
Mattis also blasted the House for not repealing a law that strictly limits defense spending even though there is bi-partisan support for doing away with this measure called a "continuing resolution" or CR.
A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation that is passed in lieu of an appropriations bill when Congress and the president fail to agree on and pass one or more of the regular appropriations bills.
A continuing resolution continues the pre-existing appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year (or with minor modifications) for a set amount of time.
Congress has "sidelined itself from its active constitutional oversight role," said Mattis.
"It has blocked new programs; prevented service growth; stalled industry initiative and placed troops at greater risk.
"Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership."
The White House's proposed military budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1, requests $639 billion for the Pentagon, including $65 billion for ongoing military operations.
Republican congressmen, however, want $30 billion more added to the military's budget. They argue the extra money is needed to rebuild the military degraded by years of war and erratic budgets.