As the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have become accustomed to hearing bad news. It is my job to make sure America’s armed forces are ready to face our increasingly turbulent world. The committee regularly meets with military leaders who make two things clear. The first is that adversaries like China have made the world more dangerous than it has been since World War II. The second is that our military is disturbingly unprepared for today’s challenges.
President Ronald Reagan reminded us that we achieve “peace through strength.” When America’s military has been strong, our adversaries have thought twice before moving against us. But today, they do not seem to hesitate before attacking our troops or undermining our interests. In Congress, I am working to help us deter any threat.
Mississippi Supports America’s Defense
My first priority is to support the brave Americans serving in uniform. Last year, Congress raised pay for service members and made healthcare and housing more affordable for military families. I voted for this legislation, which ultimately became law. I also support the civilians working in private manufacturing plants across our state. These Mississippians build the submarines, ships, and aircraft that equip our military for its mission.
American Strength Brings Peace With China
At a recent event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, I outlined the ways dictators across the world are becoming more aggressive. Vladimir Putin has brought war to Europe, and Iran is attacking American forces in the Middle East. But neither Russia nor Iran are amassing power like China’s Xi Jinping.
The Chinese Marxist leader is making it clear that he wants to topple American leadership and build a global communist utopia. Xi Jinping has funded the largest military buildup in modern history. His might will reach its peak in the next few years, and America needs to be ready to defeat him in any potential conflict.
To do so, we must rebuild our defense industrial base. Our strength begins with investment, particularly in our shipbuilding efforts. The Navy will be crucial in any conflict in the Pacific. But our fleet size is too small, and our submarine production is too slow. Activating supply chains and hiring new employees takes time, so we must start now.
Boosting our power also means solving the military recruiting crisis. One cause of this problem is increasing toxic ideologies in the armed forces, which service members say affects whether they encourage family members to enlist. Last year, I authored and successfully passed a law to stop that problem. My MERIT Act makes individual excellence, not group identity, the top factor considered in military promotions.
Republicans Check Biden Administration’s Weakness
The Senate Armed Services Committee is responsible for overseeing the Biden administration’s Pentagon leadership. Last year, I found that the Department of Defense was wasting taxpayer funds by storing, rather than using, materials that would have helped secure the border. That investigation led to a law I crafted, which ends that wasteful spending.
This year, I will push the administration to be transparent on a number of important defense initiatives. The American people still have questions about the spy balloon Beijing sent across our skies last year. We also need to learn more about the Secretary of Defense’s puzzling, unannounced absence in January.
As the world grows more dangerous, American service members are in harm’s way. We owe it to them – and to the nation as a whole – to invest in a military that will deter attacks from those who would like to do us harm.