The Pentagon received an extra $15 billion in the spending bill that will keep the government open through September. To put it in perspective, that’s 1.5 percent of the pool of about $1 trillion that funds the Pentagon and the rest of the national defense.
Some of the rhetoric from various military leaders and members of Congress, however, seemed to suggest that nothing less than the future of the U.S. military was riding on that 1.5 percent. Top generals and members of the House and Senate armed services committees have been talking about a “readiness crisis” — warning that after 16 years of fighting, both the troops and the equipment they use are badly unprepared to face potential threats from China or Russia.
It’s always easy to cherry-pick a few examples to back up such hyperbolic claims. For instance, a Navy admiral testified that almost two-thirds of the Navy’s fleet of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters were not combat-ready. This conveniently ignores that the military has long intended to phase out the Hornet, and that the Pentagon in 2015 asked Congress to take away $1.15 billion in planned funding for the newer Super Hornet. Yes, poor planning may have created a temporary shortfall of active planes, but there are plenty of other strike fighters in the military. And Lockheed Martin is churning out next-generation F-35s as fast as possible.
“Readiness” is just a red herring.