Invention and innovation are two of the most critical yet perhaps underappreciated elements contributing to the effectiveness of our armed forces. Advancements in body armor and remote improvised explosive device-jamming technology have saved countless lives. Unmanned systems have also proved to be an invaluable asset to our defense. If we are going to defend our people, our homeland and our interests around the world, we must invest in technologies like these.
Another example is special operations forces. Over the past 10 years, we have increasingly relied on these forces. Their capability, training, hardware and supporting organizations are unparalleled. The future of defense may require greater emphasis on special operations missions.
It seems to be the height of foolishness to provide insufficient resources to an entity charged with fighting terrorists, preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction and training other nations to defend themselves so we do not have to. As national security threats evolve, our special operations capabilities are an invaluable asset. These forces, however, rely heavily on conventional troops to provide significant enabling capabilities such as air support, logistics, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Cuts must not undermine these or other capabilities.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said, “Our record of predicting where we will use military force since Vietnam is perfect — we have never once gotten it right.”
Change is inevitable; how we prepare for it will determine success or failure. This is particularly true when it comes to defending America. Congress and the president must remember that truth as we move to the next step of budget cutting.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) is vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He also serves as a senior member of the Intelligence Committee and recently chaired the House GOP Cybersecurity Task Force.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.