FLEMING: We’ve Got To Begin Taking Our Defense Seriously

According to a December 2015 Gallup poll, Americans named terrorism as our country’s top concern. That was before the recent terror attacks in Orlando, Paris, and Istanbul. It should be no surprise then that Americans are worried about when, not if, the next terrorist attack will occur. While giving in to fear is not an option, we should remain vigilantly aware of today’s current threats and proactively address terror threats before they happen.

One of the most important and fundamental functions of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. Yet, despite increased threats from ISIS, Russia, Iran and North Korea, this Administration erroneously believes that climate change is our biggest threat to national security.

The President has pushed heavily for a green agenda, even within the military context. This is a distraction, at best. The reality is that “going green” diverts the military from its core mission, funneling time, energy and resources into agenda driven politics instead of focusing on tangible threats. Let’s look at real life examples. The U.S. Navy is now being required to create a “green fleet” that will run on biofuels instead of traditional diesel fuel, even though diesel is cheaper and easier to get. Or take, for example, the Naval Station Norfolk, where the solar array cost the Navy $21 million but only provided two percent of the base’s electricity. According to the Inspector General’s office, it will take 447 years for the savings to pay the cost of the project. Solar panels, however, usually only last about 25 years.

Federal Department of Defense resources should not be consumed on arbitrary and inflexible green energy quotas and CO2 benchmarks. This is simply not the mission of the U.S. military, and in the broad scope of national security, they accomplish nothing.

It is unfortunate that our outgoing President has consistently failed to take national security seriously. Besides turning our military green, he vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year – which funds our military – in hopes of diverting more money into projects he believes are more worthwhile: green energy subsidies, Obamacare, and executive orders. Let’s hope that there’s not a repeat veto on this year’s NDAA.

There is a movement afoot to reduce our troop numbers at a time when our military needs to be stronger than ever to face growing national and international threats. The fiscal year 2017 (FY17) NDAA under consideration right now, includes language to reverse troop cuts by increasing active-duty Army by 5,000 soldiers. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have fought to prevent some of the major reductions other military installations around the country have suffered, and will continue to fight for high troop levels and our military bases in Louisiana. The size of our army is directly tied to how ready our troops are to go into battle.

It’s time that the United States, together with allies around the world, crack down on terrorism whether through our resources, tightening of borders, or prevention strategies. We also need to ensure our troops have the support and resources they need to continue carrying out their mission, and protect our nation at home and abroad. Our government’s number one priority should always be on the safety and security of American citizens.

Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician, small business owner, and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. He represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.

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