By: U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to National Guardsmen at Key Field Air Guard Base during their monthly drill weekend.
This base has been tasked with several important missions involving various platforms since the last round of Base Realignment and Closure. From the KC-135 Tanker, to the MC-12, to the C-27J, to the Air Operations Group (AOG), our service members have executed each mission admirably.
While Key Field’s ability to adapt and succeed has not gone unnoticed, this churn is no way to ensure mission success and high morale in the long term. It is critical that Key Field is tasked with an enduring mission that will keep the base viable and productive for many years to come.
I recently included an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Air Force to study the impact of the cancellation of certain Air National Guard missions to ensure budget decisions do not harm or degrade the Pentagon’s homeland defense and national security operations.
There is no question that in a post 9/11 world, the defense of this great nation has only become more difficult. This, in addition to the four consecutive trillion-dollar plus deficits recorded by the Obama administration, has made it tougher than any time since the end of WWII to fund essential military functions.
Consequently, military personnel and Armed Forces advocates alike are paying close attention to Washington’s defense expenditures and the looming across-the-board reductions scheduled to take place in 2013.
The fiscal year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday included funding for critical national security needs and resources to support our troops.
Meanwhile, across-the-board cuts, known as a “sequester,” are scheduled for January 2, 2013, which would result in a 10 percent Defense Department cutback. I agree that federal spending must be significantly curbed, but an additional $492 billion in cuts on top of the $487 billion that is scheduled to be cut over the next 10 years is unthinkable and would do irrevocable damage to our military’s ability to execute the missions that we ask of them.
This is why House Republicans have proposed two plans to replace the universal cuts with targeted reductions that appropriately eliminate redundant government programs and draw back unspent federal dollars. On top of this, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday that requires the White House to tell Congress and the American people how the administration plans to implement budget sequestration should the cuts take effect in 2013.
Meridian’s service members and their families have made countless sacrifices to meet our nation’s defense demands. For their well-being and the protection of our nation, I will continue to advocate for sound fiscal policies that balance spending interests with our priorities in Meridian.
Gregg Harper, a second-term lawmaker, serves Mississippi’s Third Congressional District.