- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

Only one-third of Army brigade combat teams are ready to deploy and 50 percent of Air Force squadrons are not mission-ready.

The dire military readiness report card was issued Thursday by Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, Arizona Republican, as he chastised President Obama for not requesting higher 2017 defense spending.

Mr. McCain, addressing a witness table of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Joint Chiefs chairman, also said Marine aviation “is in crisis,” and its leaders say the Corps “cannot execute our nation’s defense strategy.”

The senator said Navy aircraft carriers are no longer a permanent presence in the Middle East, where war is raging against the Islamic State terror army, or the Pacific, where China is seeking to control maritime traffic in international waters.

“Each of our military services remains undersized, unready, and underfunded to meet current and future threats,” he said. “The effects on the present force are bad enough. The effects on the future force are worse. Years and years of deferred maintenance and delayed modernization are creating a mountain of bills that will soon come due.”

Mr. McCain said the Budget Control Act allows Mr. Obama to ask for more money, but the White House has declined.

Some Republicans have also opposed exceeding defense spending caps.

As a result, the Army cut 24 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the budget, the Air Force trimmed five F-35 fighters and the Navy is retiring five more cruisers.

Mr. Carter defended the president’s spending plan by saying, “This budget meets our needs.”

Mr. Obama is requesting a base budget, minus war spending of $523 billion, about the same level as this year.

“The budget this year is sufficient to execute the strategy,” Gen. Dunford said, adding it does include risks he was not willing to discuss in public.

“I’m not comfortable we have address all of the requirements,” the general said.

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