“A Better Way for America’s Military”

chairman-thornberry-visits-troops-in-the-middle-eastChairman Mac Thornberry lays out the GOP plan
to strengthen our national defense in latest Ripon Forum

Plus: “Gaming the Debates: Trump is tough, but is Hillary tougher?”

WASHINGTON, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (TX-13) lays out the GOP plan to strengthen our national defense in the latest edition of The Ripon Forum, which was published today.

“We have a critical choice before us,” Thornberry writes, “one between continuing to regard defense as just another federal program or giving national security the priority it has traditionally had over the last 70 years. These two approaches can be seen in two documents.

“One is an internal Pentagon memo that was leaked detailing how to gain political advantage in its budget disputes with Congress. The other is the House Republican plan offering dozens of specific policies to restore our defenses, known as ‘A Better Way.’

Thornberry lays out some of these policies in his essay, including a plan to reverse America’s declining military readiness by providing our troops with the equipment and resources they need.

According to Justin Johnson with the Heritage Foundation, this plan could not come soon enough. “Since the Budget Control Act was passed in 2011,” he writes, “the defense budget has been cut by 25 percent in real terms, even as operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere continue. We now face a potentially deadly storm of rising threats, major ongoing operations, and dramatic defense budget cuts.”

If there is one thing our troops in the field do not need, it is micromanagement from Washington. And yet as Luke Strange of the American Enterprise Institute notes, that is something they have faced in recent years as the National Security Council has expanded in size. “As the NSC staff has grown to around 400 people,” he states, “critics – including former members of the Obama Cabinet – have faulted it for strategic drift, inefficiency, and micromanagement of the uniformed military.” Johnson writes about an effort underway on Capitol Hill to curb the NSC’s authority.

In addition to improving military readiness, Congress also must make sure our troops are cared for after they leave the battlefield. Veterans’ health care has been a longstanding priority for our country. In recent years, it’s also become an increasing challenge – in large part, Avik Roy writes, because of the way care is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The most important thing to understand about VA care,” writes Roy, who co-chaired a task force on the subject, “is that it is one of the few examples in the industrialized world of fully socialized medicine.” With surveys indicating that “overwhelming majorities of veterans want private options,” Roy also discusses a bipartisan plan that would provide just that.

In addition to focusing on “A Better Way for America’s Military,” this latest edition of the Forum also features an essay by Cambridge Professor Andrew Gamble about the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and how she might deal with today’s global threats. “She was a strong nationalist, but also a strong ideological believer in the West, and in the leadership role of the United States,” Gamble writes of the Iron Lady. “Her priority for Britain was to be as close to the United States as possible, notwithstanding the occasional serious disagreements between the two countries, as over Grenada. But for Thatcher, the United States always mattered more than Europe.”

Also featured in the latest Forum is a debate about gun safety in the age of terror featuring rising star Congressman Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and longtime gun rights leader Larry Pratt. “If an individual can’t board a plane in the United States because of the dangerous risk they may pose,” writes Curbelo, who has authored legislation on the subject, “then there is no reason they should be able to purchase a firearm.” Pratt takes the opposite view. “The gun-free zone is not a crime fighting tool any more than is the background check,” he writes. “Armed citizens are the only way to protect life from terrorists and other criminals while waiting for the police.”

With the first presidential debate scheduled for Monday, a group of political leaders and communications professionals analyzes the upcoming match-up and offers their assessment of who might come out on top. “Presidential debates are won and lost by walking the fine line of aggression,” writes veteran debate coach Brett O’Donnell, who has helped prepare five GOP candidates for presidential debates. “To win you have to be perceived as competent and prepared for the job, connected to the audience, likeable, but also dominant over your opponent. Walking that line of aggression and likeability is surely a challenge to both candidates this cycle and is a skill so daunting that few candidates for the presidency have been able to master it.”

In addition to O’Donnell, others “Gaming the Debates” for this edition of the Forum include: Kim Alfano, who has served as the media consultant to such Republican leaders as Mitch Daniels and Terry Branstad; Carrie Almond, the President of the National Federation of Republican Women; Alan Schroeder, a Professor at Northeastern and author of Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trail; and, Robert Traynham, the former Press Secretary to Rick Santorum who now serves as the Vice President of Communications at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

And in the latest Ripon Profile, U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) discusses his proudest achievement since coming to the Senate and the challenge facing his home state that he is working hard to address.  He also reveals the one thing in American politics that he would most like to change — namely, “That we could treat those across the political aisle as often wrong but rarely evil.”

The Ripon Forum is published six times a year by The Ripon Society, a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.