Home National Politics Nine Years Today.

Nine Years Today.

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(Interesting article, Jeff Barnett is one of the first Virginia politicians I’ve heard to state publicly that they agree with the idea of closing JFCOM.   – promoted by lowkell)

On October 7th, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of the terrorists who attacked our country on September 11th.

Nine years, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars later, we still have not achieved a successful resolution.

photo-6I want this war’s tenth year to be one of its last. I support the President’s plan to begin to withdraw troops in 2011, and I want that draw-down to happen as efficiently and quickly as possible.

My youngest daughter is in Afghanistan fighting that war. So are the sons and daughters of thousands of families all across Virginia and the country. I think about her – and them – every day. On the ninth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, it is important to spend some time considering the future of the American military and its role in the world.

We will continue to protect our country. We will continue to be a force for good around the world. If we have learned one thing in the last ten years, however, it is this: even the finest military the world has ever known does not have unlimited capacity. Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the biggest threat to American security is the tremendous burden of our national debt.

I agree.  

The United States spends more money on the military than the rest of the world combined. That’s not necessary, and it’s certainly not sustainable. When I get to Congress, I will work to start the process of modernizing our military. I will work to create a force that is more appropriate to the demands – and the financial resources – of the 21st century.

My father is buried in Arlington Cemetery, and I spent my career in the Air Force. Both of my daughters are active duty officers. So was my wife. I will never do anything to endanger the safety of the brave men and women who serve. What I will do is use my decades of military experience to help streamline the DoD budget to create armed forces that are more capable, more efficient, and more responsive to modern threats than today’s military.

The elimination of superfluous programs is going to mean budget cuts. Budget cuts – especially popular military programs –  are never easy  to make.

Making difficult choices requires real leadership, and I’m stepping up.

That’s why I have endorsed Secretary Gates’ plan to close the Joint Forces Command here in Virginia. As I said in the Loudoun Times last week:

“The only push back I’ve heard on closing the Joint Forces Command is because it’ll impact jobs. Now, that’s not good enough. You’ve got to give me a national security reason for spending taxpayer money on a military operation. It’s got to be some national security need it is filling. I haven’t heard that at all so I would side with Mr. Gates on shutting it down.”

If we are going to spend precious taxpayer money on the military, it should make the country safer. In this case, it does not. I’m well aware that I’m breaking with most of the Virginia delegation on this, and I respect their desire to preserve these jobs.

Here’s what I think: rather than propping up jobs that don’t justify their expense, we should invest in the creation of good jobs. Jobs that last. I’m going to focus my energy on creating next generation jobs in the industries of tomorrow, jobs that will add real value to the regional economy in the long run. We’ve seen the peril of short-term thinking before. We just can’t afford it any more.

Closing JFCOM isn’t the most popular course right now – but it’s the right one. Making responsible decisions about our military resources is the best way to honor the sacrifices that our soldiers make every day.  

  • Dan Sullivan

    By your reasoning, we can cut most of the military because “You’ve got to give me a national security reason for spending taxpayer money on a military operation.” JFCOM is training. Boot camp is training. Neither is a “military operation.”

    Can’t tell if you ever spent time doing joint training or education, but joint integration is the achilles heel of military operations. It delivers the capability enjoyed operationally. If not done by JFCOM, then by whom?

    What I will do is use my decades of military experience to help streamline the DoD budget to create armed forces that are more capable, more efficient, and more responsive to modern threats than today’s military.

    This would result in the same old empty salami slicing philosophy of budget cutting that delivers a smaller, less capable force. Sounds a lot like the Bush I administration’s approach to downsizing.

    Don’t get me wrong. JFCOM is neither sacrosanct nor perfect. But that is more a result of service resistance and rice bowls. It is rice bowls that need to be broken. And without the JFCOM function being performed somewhere by someone, the real fraud, waste, and abuse will never be challenged.

    Maybe you ought to look at why contractors are being used as the bill payers for service resistance to force modernization.

  • denis

    This is really a breath of fresh air.  A knowledgeable, thoughtful analysis of a difficult issue, coming from a candidate not afraid to take the position to which his belief and his evaluation of the facts drives him.  Jeff is right — its too bad that our two elected Democratic senators do not have his courage.  Any serious attempt to align defense spending with the demands of the 21st century has to be willing to identify programs that don’t meet that test, and eliminate them.  That is what Gates’ proposal on the JFCOM does.  Any defense program that is targeted for elimination is going to cost jobs, so that fact alone is not a reason to oppose the cut.  Jeff’s analysis recognizes that.  We NEED him in the House of Representatives.