That decline is not only because of a reduction in military spending and the aging out of equipment that’s not being replaced quickly enough, it’s also because attempts to socially engineer promotions and introduce woke policies in the military interfere with the necessary trust between service members and their leaders, according to Greenway, a retired Army Special Forces officer, career public servant, and principal architect of the historic Abraham Accords that brought the normalization of relations among Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
The number of Americans who trust military leaders has decreased to the lowest point since 2001, which has led to a crisis in recruitment and concerns about combat readiness.
Greenway, the new director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, joined Heritage President Kevin Roberts on his “Kevin Roberts Show” podcast for a candid conversation about the state of our national defense. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)
“All of that tension tends to boil over, and it produces ineffectiveness, inefficiencies, and potential problems,” Greenway said.
One of our national defense challenges is underinvestment. Since the end of the Cold War, policymakers have determined that several competing priorities should take precedence over our military’s ability to sufficiently defend our nation and its interests, he said. At 3.1% of gross domestic product and on the decline, U.S. defense spending is near record lows.
Greenway discussed the need for greater balance between the quality and quantity of our defense weapons systems because the military doesn’t have the budget to do both. He noted that our investment in defense technology quality is coming at the expense of producing the quantity necessary to be prepared to measure up against world powers like China in the event of a conflict.
“Now, there’s an argument always, and it’s not just within defense, about quantity and quality here,” Greenway stated. “I think the tension is important, and I think the balance is what matters. You can’t move either direction to extremes because you lose balance, and you will find yourselves defeated.”
“As a consequence [of losing balance], we have reduced capabilities in the military,” he said.
China’s military has rapidly progressed and is equipping itself with a modern naval fleet, and the Chinese Communist Party is taking bold moves to advance its interests around the world. China also has a tremendous size advantage in terms of population and certain weapons and equipment, “so, even if we have the best systems in the world, in a confrontation with China, we may still find ourselves on the losing end of it, because we’ve also neglected the quantity,” Greenway said.
Additionally, he stated that similar to how the American Left is lenient with criminals domestically, it is also lenient with our international adversaries: “There’s a remarkable consistency in the approach adopted by progressives and the Left domestically and internationally … reducing our ability to stop and deter and prosecute crimes [domestically]. And the same logic is really being applied on an international scale: We don’t need a strong national defense, and in fact, we end up providing advantage and resources to our adversaries.”
The Biden administration has allowed adversaries to equip themselves in ways that are “unacceptable,” according to Greenway. This includes the “staggering” $6 billion the Biden administration just sent to Iran in a deal to free five American prisoners the nation was holding.
Moreover, as a result of complex global supply chains, we currently outsource components of some of our most advanced military equipment to China. We need to encourage more domestic control of our military manufacturing infrastructure, Greenway added.
In the end, Greenway remains hopeful that America will overcome these challenges just as it has in the past “because we have hope and optimism for the future and confidence in each other. And I see no reason that that wouldn’t allow us to prevail in the end.”
Lucy Gilbert is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
Sara Garstka is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
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