Representative Allen West (R–FL) said in a speech today that funding America’s Armed Forces is the No. 1 responsibility of the federal government. Without the protection they provide, America would cease to exist.
West spoke at The Heritage Foundation, delivering the closing address for “Protect America Month.” In keeping with the month’s theme, West spoke on national security issues and the need for increased defense spending .
At a time when many Members of Congress are calling for a decrease in military funding, West is calling for more, urging the government to “be looking at every single way we can increase the benefits that we give to [the military].”
Appropriate funding is a foundational necessity for fighting wars and protecting America. But, West says, there is another necessity: clarifying America’s strategic goals and objectives. He believes this aspect has been largely missing for the past 10 years.
“We have the best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen the world has ever known…but if they don’t have the right type of strategic goals and objectives, the right type of operational goals and direction that then filter down to the tactical level, it’s like a hamster—no matter how much exertion you are putting into that wheel, you are just not going anywhere,” said West.
West identified four strategic goals he said should be the military’s focus:
- Deny the enemy sanctuary.
- Cut off the enemy’s flow of men, materials, and resources.
- Win the information war.
- Reduce the enemy’s sphere of influence.
These four goals, which West describes in detail here, may be part of what is missing from current strategy. West said that without this kind of strategic focus, “we are turning a blind eye to a very bold enemy that is telling us exactly what he wants to do.”
West left it to elected leaders and strategic level military leaders to come up with an appropriate perspective that will combat America’s enemies successfully.
“I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened in Vietnam—where we won on the battlefield constantly but at the strategic level, that’s where we did not have focus or great objective,” he said.
West stressed that without these strategic goals in order, the “steady state” necessary to ensure America’s protection becomes less possible.
“We have to develop a national security road map…we did not do that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and who became the bill payer? The U.S. military,” said West. “I can tell you this because I was serving at the time and my friends who were in tank units had to use golf carts to practice tank tactics.”
While West insists that every bit of necessary funding be delivered to our troops, he is not against cutting waste. In a recent interview, he told NBC’s David Gregory he would stand for cuts in defense but only if there is a specific focus.
“I have found three wasteful government programs in DOD that will add up to $800 million savings, so its there—and that should be the focus [for cuts].”