In an op ed published in Florida Today on November 5, 2016, Secretary Michael Wynne continues his discussion of how he sees the way ahead for a Trump Administration in defense, and how that approach would impact on the Gulf Coast.
Florida is home to over 1.5 million veterans, with a significant number residing here along the Space Coast.
Our veterans know firsthand the challenges facing our military and understand the need for strong, decisive leadership from our commander-in-chief.
Unfortunately, over the last eight years, the United States has been lacking the leadership we need to keep our country safe and advance our interests around the world. Though our military remains stalwart, it is seriously stretched.
Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Russia and China are emphasizing their military and cyber capabilities while acting increasingly assertive in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific. Iran and North Korea are advancing toward nuclear weapons with sophisticated ballistic missile capabilities. And ISIS and other Islamist extremists now pose a serious threat to Western Europe and even the U.S. homeland.
Yet while these dangers have mounted, the Obama administration has presided over record declines in our military capacity and capability. The Air Force is the smallest and oldest it has ever been. The Army is the smallest since before World War II.
And the Navy is the smallest since World War I. Under sequestration, our services are experiencing the worst readiness crisis in over a generation, with training hours curtailed, maintenance on aircraft and vehicles deferred, and some pilots even forced to take spare parts for their planes from museums. Frankly, our serving Military deserves more.
Donald Trump has proposed the most significant investment in national defense since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has been completely silent on the crisis facing our military.
The Trump plan, which was endorsed by 35 of the country’s leading defense experts, calls for immediately working with Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to remove sequestration from defense so our services can get the stability they need. Under a Trump presidency, our men and women in uniform will never be sent into harm’s way without the training and equipment they need to be successful and return home safely.
Under Mr. Trump’s plan, the Air Force will grow to 1,200 fighter aircraft, which an independent analysis says is required to meet today’s threats. The Air Force’s next generation bomber, emerging right here in Brevard is very high on the agenda. The Army will expand from 490,000 active soldiers to 540,000, the number the Army’s chief of staff says he needs. The Navy will grow to 350 ships from 272 today, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel. And the Marine Corps, in need of urgent recapitalization after fifteen years of protracted ground combat, will expand from 27 to 36 battalions.
Florida, and the Space Coast, will play a major role in Mr. Trump’s defense agenda. This includes protecting our nation’s satellites, and readying formidable replacements as we prepare to protect our leadership position in space. He has proposed a comprehensive missile defense system, involving our Navy’s cruisers and space-based early warning and detection capabilities to counter growing missile threats. The Air Force’s Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base will be an important part of protecting our nation from Weapons of Mass Destruction challenges.
Mr. Trump clearly recognizes the challenges facing our country in outer space, given the investments being made by potential competitors like Russia and China in anti-satellite weapons and hypersonic missiles than can overwhelm traditional missile defense systems. The United States cannot fall behind in emerging technologies like hypersonics, and the men and women of the Space Coast’s aerospace industry will be on the front lines of this effort. Mr. Trump has committed to sustaining the type of investment our aerospace sector needs through real public-private partnerships that will produce the
technologies of the future.
Under a Trump Administration, NASA will regain its critical role as a leader in outer space research and innovation while the private sector partners keep innovating. With the right policies, this region is on the cusp of becoming a center of advanced aerospace manufacturing, providing new, high-paying jobs, whether in Titusville or the Melbourne area.
Donald Trump’s vision for national security is based on strength, at home and abroad. By rebuilding our military and investing to restore American leadership in the Space domain, Mr. Trump has found the right ingredients to ensure peace abroad and prosperity at home.
The people of the Space Coast, and across the United States, have a clear choice on November 8.
Michael W. Wynne, a graduate of Melbourne High School, served as Secretary of the U.S. Air Force from 2005 to 2008.