Harold Hutchison / June 1, 2021

What We Owe Our Troops

Ensure that the need for their sacrifices is minimized to the greatest extent possible.

Every Memorial Day, grassroots Americans rightly reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by many of our Armed Forces Patriots. But too many people never stop to think about what we owe our troops — not just those who have fallen, but those whose sacrifices included wounds (visible and invisible), and those who still serve.

The fact of the matter is that the troops — and others — who fought the Global War on Terror were badly let down by politicians and their civilian leadership. That started with George W. Bush’s errors of omission, and it extended to overly restrictive rules of engagement that left troops in the position of seeing lawyers and bureaucrats spend hours second-guessing split-second decisions if not initiating dubious prosecutions. Then there was Barack Obama’s timetable-based pullouts, followed by the betrayal of the people who got high-ranking terrorists to spill their guts.

America could have and should have done far better by its warriors.

Over the years, we’ve seen the military shrink. For example, in the 2004 version of his book Fighter Wing, author Tom Clancy noted that the three fighter squadrons with the 366th Wing had 18 planes each. In Desert Victory, published in the immediate aftermath of Desert Storm, Norman Friedman noted a standard Air Force fighter squadron in Europe would have as many as 24 planes, and some of the fighter squadrons assigned to defend Alaska had as many as 30. Today, according to a Congressional Budget Office primer, our fighter squadrons have only 12 planes each. It’s bad enough that planned buildups can’t even get our total number of fighter squadrons to half the total we had before Bill Clinton’s defense cuts slashed our force structure to pieces, but now each squadron’s strength may be only two-thirds of what a squadron once was in the best of circumstances.

The Air Force isn’t the only service that has taken hits. The Army’s force structure also didn’t just see units disappear; the units that remain have seen their capabilities diminish, too. In Armored Cav, Clancy noted a cavalry troop was centered on 13 M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles and nine M1 Abrams tanks. That same CBO primer shows that a present-day cavalry troop has a dozen Bradleys, and these are the M2 Bradleys that carry fewer TOW missiles and 25mm chain gun rounds than the M3 models. In other words, each cavalry squadron has 27 fewer Abrams tanks than they used to, and the Bradleys that are left can’t kill as many enemy tanks. That’s a big drop in combat capability.

We’ve discussed the need for the Navy to be rebuilt ad nauseam, and the Marine Corps and Coast Guard also need a lot of help.

Grassroots Patriots have the obligation to back our troops, who volunteer knowing that they may have to give their lives for this county. The ideal is to prevent war from happening in the first place. Failing that, we should ensure that any war that is fought comes to a victorious conclusion as soon as possible. It means that after their honorable service, whether in wartime or in times of peace, we should take care of our troops. That means the appropriate medical and mental healthcare, efficient delivery of their benefits, and ensuring that their sacrifices are not thrown away.

It also means we need to pay attention to what Congress and the military’s civilian leadership are doing. Our military should be focusing on studying and executing the concepts of Clausewitz, not Kendi. Our foreign policy should properly treat our friends, like Israel. It should strengthen allies in regions like the Middle East, so they can handle a situation like Yemen with minimal (or ideally, no) involvement from the United States. It should make sure that our nominal allies — like Germany — actually act like allies. In particular, American foreign policy should work to hamper our enemies, like Russia and China — especially when they collude against us. And as for a regime like Iran, that vocalizes its intention to carry out a second Holocaust, our policy should be simple: The day they conduct their first nuclear weapons test will be the last day that regime exists.

We remember the sacrifices of those who gave all on Memorial Day. Grassroots Patriots should work to make sure that the need for those sacrifices is minimized to the greatest extent possible through a strong military and a prudent foreign policy.

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