Military preparedness is crucial


Rev. Carl Kline’s longstanding opposition to U.S. military funding resurfaced recently with his denunciation of the U.S. Pentagon budget for being “No. 1 globally…. three times larger than China and 10 times larger than Russia” (Register 6-28-21). 

Kline upbraided “our two South Dakota senators” for supporting the new “B21 Raider,” slated for future deployment to the Ellsworth Air Force Base.  “Developing and procuring the first 100 aircraft,” according to Kline, “would cost $80 billion” (in 2016 dollars).

As is often the case in the affairs of progressive politics, ‘the devil is in the details’ – in this case, the details which have here been left unattended.

President Biden’s “$715 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal 2022 is a 1.6% increase over last year. Adjusted for inflation, this is a cut,” which reduces our military’s level of preparedness in addressing the growing threat from “near peer” enemies like China and Russia (WSJ 6-15-21). 

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-WV), a Congresswoman from Kline’s own Democratic party, is also sharply critical of “budget gaps” which weaken America’s defense posture.

Rep. Luria, a retired commander following a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy with real world experience in the critical realities of strategic deterrence versus America’s enemies, recently exposed the misjudgments of those who would seek, in various ways, to defund the military.  

While U.S. defense leaders have identified “China as our No. 1 challenge…an increasingly capable strategic competitor,” the latest Pentagon budget “reduces the ability of the Navy and Air Force – the services that would have outsize roles in any conflict in the Western Pacific – to respond to threats in that region,” a shortcoming which “undermines the trust of Congress and the American people” (WSJ 7-6-21). 

The Navy wants to “retire 15 ships, including seven guided-missile cruisers and four littoral combat ships, while procuring only two surface combatant ships and two submarines.”  

Naval aviation procurement “dropped 15.6% over 2021 even as the Navy speeds up F/A-18 retirements.”

Furthermore, “China is building warships at an astonishing rate. In 2010 the U.S. Navy had 68 more ships than the Chinese navy. Today, it has 63 fewer, a swing of 131 ships in 10 years.” 

U.S. Air Force combat aircraft procurement is “down 22% from 2021,” with plans to “retire 137 aircraft, more than double the number it plans to buy.”  Following last year’s retirement of the 17 B-1s, the Air Force’s “bomber inventory is at a level top officers have called the bare minimum,” with ammunition procurement also “down more than 40%.”

China, meanwhile, has been busy “procuring advanced aircraft,” currently has the world’s third-largest air force, and has been aggressively engaging in provocative cyber-attacks against the U.S. and allies.

Sec. of State Antony Blinken recently warned, “The United States and countries around the world are holding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) accountable for its pattern of irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyber space, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security” (WSJ 7-22-21).

Blinken also confirmed that “cyber actors affiliated with” China’s Ministry of State Security had conducted a “massive cyber espionage operation: earlier this year which “indiscriminately compromised thousands of computers and networks” (attacks on entities that utilized the Microsoft Exchange).  The operation “…gave Chinese intelligence services the ability to access and spy on or potentially disrupt tens of thousands of computer systems worldwide.”

America’s enemies, most notably, “China, Russia, Tehran and Pyongyang,” present a clear and present danger to the U.S. and our allies in the free world.  These enemies are intensely focused upon crippling America, economically, militarily, and socially.  They never rest.

Clergymen like Kline, who advocate for minimizing our military preparedness, preaching peace through compromise, may one day jeopardize critical operations, and endanger the lives of the men and women serving in defense of our country.  

One of the most important orders of business in President George Washington’s First Annual Address to Congress, January 8, 1790, was to advocate for an army that would be fit and ready to defend our new nation: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

James Madison, the “Chief Architect of the Constitution” and fourth President of the United States (1809-1817), formally acknowledged in his First Inaugural Address, March 5, 1809, a higher, and far more consequential truth in these vital matters:  “We have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.”

God-fearing Americans should never cease in their “fervent supplications” to Almighty God on behalf of our country. America’s “best hope for the future” may, at any moment in time, ‘hang upon the spider’s thread’ of those very prayers.