Vol. 56, No. 6

In this edition

by LOU ZICKAR After the worst year for military recruiting since the start of the all-volunteer force in 1973, the latest edition of The Ripon Forum focuses on U.S. military readiness at a time of rising tensions around the globe. 

The Ultimate Weapon is in Short Supply

The Army only made 75 percent of its recruiting quota in fiscal year 2022, and other services have also been strapped to meet their targets. Why the shortfall, and what can be done to reverse it?

Saving Ukraine: The Evolution of Aid and What the Future May Hold

Without the rapid delivery of weapons and munitions from the United States, NATO, and others, Ukraine would have been overwhelmed in two or three weeks. What comes next?

The National Defense Stockpile is Small but Important — and Should Be Bigger

Today, the stockpile is but a fraction of its former self; its cache of materials is valued at less than $1 billion. Corrected for inflation, that’s less than 1/40th of its value in 1952.

Reagan’s Vision and the State of U.S. Missile Defense Today

The missile threat environment is far more perilous than at any other time in history. China, Russia, North Korea, and potentially Iran are deliberately developing strategies to threaten the U.S. homeland.

Ensuring Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century

At a time when Vladimir Putin is making irresponsible threats to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is currently supported by last century’s equipment.

Back to the Future for Defense

Republicans ought to take a page from the Reagan playbook and insist that we can defeat inflation and control federal spending without weakening our military.

After Failing Five Straight Audits, the Pentagon Should Not Get a Funding Boost

You don’t need to be a budget hawk to recognize it is past time to end budget increases for the Department of Defense and impose some fiscal discipline on the agency.

The Space Force Turns Three

With the U.S. Space Force marking its third anniversary, now is a good time to examine not only some of its key accomplishments, but some of the key challenges it faces in the years ahead.

Viewing Border Security as an Ecosystem

If the number of individuals arrested along our southern border were to form their own city, it would be the fifth largest city in the United States.

Ripon Profile of Julia Letlow

The Representative of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District discusses her background in education and which federal agency she believes is in most need of reform.

Ripon Profile of Julia Letlow

Name: Julia Barnhill Letlow, Ph.D.

Occupation: Congresswoman from Louisiana’s Fifth District

Previous positions held: Executive Director of External Affairs & Strategic Communications at the University of Louisiana Monroe; Instructor of Speech Communication at the University of Louisiana Monroe: Director of Education. Resident Patient Safety & Quality Improvement at Tulane Medical School: Clinical Instructor at the Tulane Medical School

Individual(s) who inspired me as a child: As I walk the halls of the Capitol, I’m often awestruck thinking about the incredible men and women who came before me. It’s the honor of a lifetime to go to work in the same building where people such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln walked, but I often find myself remembering one of my favorite teachers, Becky Herrod from the Eighth Grade at Ouachita Christian School. Not only did she help inspire me to become an educator, her lessons about our government and American History have come back to serve me well in Congress

Issue facing America that no one is talking about: Utilizing career and technical education to help students find employment after graduation. I believe that instead of using a “college-only” approach when counseling students about their direction after high school, we should alsotalk about trade schools and our community colleges. In Louisiana, our community colleges have done an incredible job designing a curriculum that helps students build skills and meets the needs of the employers in our state. We can ensure that our students have access to state-of-the-art tools and equipment that will help simulate what they will experience on the job.

Challenge facing your District that you’re working hard to address:  Poverty – I represent one of the poorest regions in the country. Education is the answer. I firmly believe that if we invest in education at all levels, it will pay dividends for generations to come. As somebody who spent my career working in classrooms before I came to Capitol Hill, I’ve seen firsthand how education can take an individual from poverty to prosperity. When you educate a child, you give them a future.

Finally, finish this sentence: “If I could reform any agency or department in the federal government, it would be…”  Without question, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  When Hurricane Ida struck my district last year, hundreds of my constituents were unfairly denied disaster assistance simply because of a bureaucratic programming error at FEMA.

Once we were able to rectify the problem, those who were able to file experienced frustrating delays and red tape. In addition, FEMA’s illogical new formulas for calculating flood insurance are costing my constituents thousands of dollars, while the agency has yet to provide a full explanation for these changes to our state’s congressional delegation. I believe we need FEMA to become more customer-friendly, easier to navigate and focus more on rapid response in the aftermath of disasters.