Continuing Resolutions, an Oxymoron to a Successful National Defense
The potential for another Continuing Resolution poses a risk to the military, warfighter, and defense industry. The “kicking the can down the road” strategy is not the solution and Congress must come together to ensure that our national defense programs are funded properly. Let’s also not forget that both sides of the aisle have not come to an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 (NDAA). Therefore, it is safe to say that the stakes are high in Washington to find a solution by the September 30th end of the current fiscal year.
With the anticipation of a Continuing Resolution through late November or early December, one word comes to mind, corrosive. A CR will once again damage our military capabilities and readiness recovery efforts. Old equipment, scarce spare parts, and curtailing training operations provide instability for our Nation’s defense. This jeopardizes our national security and our ability to deal with our adversaries for the present time and for generations to come.
Sadly, previous sequestrations and inadequacies to complete a full budget bill have hit home and a new trend has started to appear. Training deaths. In 2017, 21 servicemembers died in combat, while 80 servicemembers died in training. What this data shows is that in 2017 it was roughly four times safer to go to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the front lines than it was to train for war in say Southern California. This statistic underscores the need for our warfighters to have the proper equipment, exercises, and resources for both training and battle.
Moreover, the hurdles without Defense Appropriations or an NDAA, provide inconsistencies and uncertainties that hurt the defense industry. For businesses small and large, a three-month long Continuing Resolution can be impactful. Depending on the length of a CR, suppliers may have to work around unpredictable budgets, acquisition program difficulties, and time-sensitive complications to multiyear procurement programs. With unresolved budgets, it becomes more difficult for the defense industry to collaborate with the federal government. The integration between the two supplies the best solutions for the warfighter. Any burden to transparency and openness can directly affect our national security, economy, and workforce development.
Most recently, with the President’s revamp of the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), new opportunities are presented for industry to collaborate and strengthen our national deterrence and defend both U.S. and Allied interests. Industry continues to focus on many different space operations commercially, militarily, and scientifically. This new domain expands America’s defense capabilities. Therefore, proper equipment, training, and organization are needed for any space forces. Using vintage equipment for a new combatant command will not create a successful path forward for U.S. global space operations. Adequate funding is needed to accomplish a successful pathway forward for both national space defense and industry partnership.
As Congress negotiates and tangles with defense funding, Members must realize the harm associated with Continuing Resolutions to both our national defense and industry. The impact is becoming more realistic by the day and rather than catching up, Congress must pro-actively strategize to find a way forward that provides government and industry engagement with budget transparency. With this discourse, the best systems and processes will be provided to our warfighter for years to come.