4 years ago

Roby: Shrinking military shows misplaced priorities

Last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel previewed some significant changes coming for our nation’s military. Though the details won’t be public until President Obama releases his proposed budget, we know the size and scope of our Armed Forces will be greatly reduced. In fact, under the President’s proposal, the Army would shrink to its pre-World War II size.

Every American should be concerned about how budget cuts are affecting our Armed Forces and what that means for our national priorities. No area of the budget is immune from belt tightening and that certainly includes the military. And, with the drawdown of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, certain changes to the military are expected and, in many ways, necessary.

However, any changes to our Armed Forces should reflect national priorities, not budgetary or political circumstances. The United States must first decide what is required to protect this country and its interests, and then budget accordingly. I fear we are doing the opposite, letting limited funding dictate strategic decisions.

One of the reasons I opposed the Budget Control Act of 2011 was because of the way the bill cut a disproportional amount from defense relative to other areas of the budget. The sequestration cuts imposed by that law took 50 percent from the military when defense spending represents only 20 percent of the federal budget.

Now, the drastic military cuts most thought would be a one-time occurrence have become the new normal, and the problem is getting worse. Why? Because out-of-control spending elsewhere in the federal government continues to consume a greater and greater portion of our resources, and there’s only so much to go around.

A lot of politicians in Washington don’t like to talk about it, but the fact is unrestrained growth of “auto-pilot” social programs is threatening our ability to properly fund the military. A recent report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office outlined how, without changes to current law, mandatory spending on social programs and subsidized health care will grow at an extraordinary rate over the next 25 years, while non-mandatory spending, where military funding comes from, will shrink to dangerous levels. Mandatory spending is automatic in nature and does not change unless the law does, which is the reason behind its “auto-pilot” growth.


The CBO prediction would fulfill a decades-long trend. Mandatory spending has increased dramatically over the decades, going from about 20 percent of the budget in the 1960s to about 45 percent in the 1980s to more than 60 percent today. And, as mandatory spending has consumed a greater share of the budget, the military’s portion has decreased just as dramatically.

To put this in perspective, in ten years the United States could spend as much or more on our annual debt payments than we do on national defense if we continue down this path. What kind of message does that send to our enemies or those who seek to undermine our global influence?

Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognized how failure to reform mandatory spending would lead to military cuts, stating in 2010 that “national debt is our biggest national security threat.”

The problem isn’t limited to the military. Funding for other American priorities like transportation infrastructure, education, agriculture, or other legitimate interests is also threatened by unrestrained growth of social welfare programs.

Unfortunately, our Commander-in-Chief has failed to show leadership on this issue. President Obama’s soon-to-be-released budget proposal reportedly contains no reforms to rein in mandatory spending, despite widespread agreement that reforms are desperately needed. Too often, President Obama and his party choose to believe the falsehood that the government can somehow tax its way out of every problem.

Congress took a small step in the right direction late last year by passing the Bipartisan Budget Act, which restored some military funding cut by sequestration and made modest reforms to mandatory spending. I hope we can use that step to build momentum for more long-term reforms that help get our fiscal house in order.

The Constitution calls on the United States Government to “promote the general welfare” as well as to “provide for the common defense.” We cannot allow one responsibility to continue to undermine the other.

Impact on Ft. Rucker

Changes to the Armed Forces will likely affect every major military installation in the country, and our Alabama bases and posts are no exception. A smaller Army will certainly have an impact at Fort Rucker, one that we’ve expected now for some time. However, the proposed changes also offer some good news for the post.

The Army plans to realign its aviation assets to reflect our current footing and improve efficiency. Part of the plan would call for modernizing the training aircraft at Fort Rucker’s Army Aviation Center of Excellence, which would enhance the training mission there.

I have been personally engaged in discussions surrounding the Army’s planned changes. As it stands, the aircraft realignment plan would have a positive impact on Fort Rucker and would not negatively impact the Alabama National Guard.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. To contact her, visit her
website or call her Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-2901.

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4 hours ago

Evidence mounts of full-scale Russian campaign to undermine American energy

The U.S. government for the first time ever blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure. The Trump administration action comes a little over two weeks after a House committee detailed Russian attempts to influence energy markets.

U.S. officials said a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” that began in March 2016, possibly earlier, is part of a campaign to target critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear and aviation facilities.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said hackers targeted small facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks,” Reuters reported.

It’s the first time the U.S. has directly called out Moscow for infrastructure hacking. It’s still unclear whether or not the hacks were successful or led to any damage, and the security alert did not name the companies targeted.

The Trump administration condemnation comes more than two weeks after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology found Russian agents used social media outlets to embolden opposition to American energy production.

“Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” reads the committee’s report on Russian activities.

The committee found accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, published 9,097 social media posts from 2015 to 2017 targeting energy policies and projects. Thirteen Russians connected to IRA were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.,” the House committee found.

For years, Republicans and energy industry experts have worried Russian money was being used to undermine U.S. energy policy.

Intelligence officials confirmed in early 2017 in a declassified report on election meddling that the state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT) ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”

The House committee began the investigation in 2017 and asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to investigate whether or not Russians were using an offshore Bermuda-based law firm to funnel money to U.S. environmental groups.

Lawmakers asked Mnuchin to investigate whether or not the U.S.-based environmental group, the Sea Change Foundation, took $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oligarchs in 2010 and 2011.

Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. All of those groups oppose hydraulic fracturing.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

5 hours ago

VIDEO: PA-18’s lessons — dangerous teachers — student walkouts … and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— Were the results in Pennsylvania’s special election a rejection of Trump or Pelosi?

— Why did the executive director of the state’s superintendent association imply teachers were unstable and dangerous?

— Will the student walkouts bring about some real change on gun issues?

Clayton Hinchman joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his campaign for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Hillary Clinton where he begs her never stop talking.

6 hours ago

AlabamaWorks! is holding a career event for students to learn about jobs in the state

Edie Gibson and Antiqua Cleggett talk “Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA” which will be held April 24-25 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.

Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA is designed to help 8-12th grade students “connect the dots” and clearly identify steps toward a college or career pathway as they enter their high school education.

More information is available here.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

7 hours ago

Wounded Warrior running for Alabama State House representing Chambers and Lee Counties

Back in 2003, while U.S. Army Specialist Todd Rauch and his buddies were patrolling the streets of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi city made famous by its notorious prison, a remotely-detonated mortar exploded near his patrol. His right shoulder and hand were severely injured in the blast.

Rauch was eventually flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and endured 12 surgeries to save his limbs from amputation.

He is now running as a Republican for the State House of Representatives district representing Chambers and Lee Counties.

So how did this Illinois-native find himself running for office in Alabama?

While recovering at the hospital, Rauch’s roommate was from Fort Payne and “all he talked about was Auburn and Auburn and Auburn,” Rauch told Yellowhammer News.


Rauch soon recovered from his injuries, and then his plans for a transition to civilian life became all about … Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.

“I applied to Auburn and felt like it was a good place to get a fresh start,” he said

Rauch studied psychology at Auburn University, with the intention of working in veteran services or military intelligence. He then worked for a time as an intelligence analyst and then began working in veterans’ services, helping his brothers and sisters in arms receive the benefits they were promised.

He’s running on a platform strengthening communities.

Rauch has a firm conviction that a community’s representative ought to be more present in the community itself, something he said he hasn’t seen much at the 75 city and county commission meetings he has attended over the last few years.

“I realized that there was no one there who was representing us in Montgomery to take those voices and those issue and those problems to Montgomery,” he said.

Rauch has put improving jobs and education among his platform principles.

He is a stanch supporter of the community college system, of which both he and his wife are products.

“It’s a good and affordable way to get your education and to get experience in college without jumping into a four-year university,” he said.

Rauch also supports expanding broadband access to rural areas. He said it is critical to the development of rural areas that have little internet and cell service.

“You’re not able to do your banking,” he said. “Some of these people aren’t even able to have home security systems because some of that works off of cell service.”

With the campaign motto, “Community. Country. Service,” Rauch said he wants to work to improve life for his constituents, and by extension, the rest of the state and country.

“Focusing on the community creates better environment for the kids, inspires better leaders, and provides better community for our state, and provides a better state for our country,” he said.

The GOP primary is June 5.

(Image: Todd Rauch for Alabama/Facebook)

The conservative alternative to Martha Roby gains momentum as Terry Everett, lawmakers endorse Barry Moore

State Rep. Barry Moore’s campaign for Congress recently received strong endorsements from the district’s former congressman and a dozen of Alabama’s most conservative state lawmakers.

“Since I left Congress, government has grown, our representation has wavered, and District 2 values have been casted aside,” said former Republican Congressman Terry Everett, who represented the district from 1993-2009. “We need to make a change, and I am privileged to support Representative Barry Moore for Congress.”

Everett’s powerful endorsement comes days after 12 of the state’s most conservative lawmakers gathered in Montgomery to endorse Barry Moore, whose conservative record they witnessed firsthand while working alongside him in the State Legislature.

Wetumpka State Rep. Mike Holmes told reporters that the district has “an opportunity to send a strong, unapologetic conservative to Washington,” and Montgomery State Rep. Dimitri Polizos agreed, saying that Moore is a “proven conservative leader” who will “stand with President Trump and give our district the representation it deserves.”

Visit Barry Moore’s website, his Facebook page and @RepBarryMoore on Twitter to learn why Terry Everett and others believe in his vision to Make Alabama Great Again!

(Paid for by Barry Moore for Congress)