Would You Take an SUV into Combat?


Should our fighting men and women be forced to drive unarmed SUVs into war zones, with speed as their only defense against rocket and car bomb attacks? Tragically, that’s a true story of U.S. military readiness today, and America’s defenses will only get worse under the drastic cuts aimed at our armed forces.

In a new video by The Heritage Foundation, combat veteran Kerry Kachejian explains why U.S. military readiness is so crucial. He has first hand experience in the matter from his experience during the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. “Because this unit was organized, staffed, equipped and deployed so quickly, there was no spare military equipment for it,” Kachejian explained. Unable to acquire the necessary armored vehicles, his unit turned to ingenuity, courage and innovative ways to get the job done, all while coming under withering assaults from the enemy.

Kachejian’s story, which is continued in new book, “SUVs Suck In Combat,” illustrates the human impact of an ill-equipped military. He tells of being jolted by a one-thousand pound truck bomb, speeding at 110 mph through the streets of Iraq, ripping tailgates off SUVs and mounting machine guns in back, and men duct-taping their body armor to their vehicles to get even the smallest level of protection. On an individual level, the lesson is clear — our men and women soldiers are risking their lives in defense of freedom, and yet they’re ill-equipped to get the job done.

But from the ground level to the global stage, a weak, unprepared military poses great threats, as well. Unfortunately, the U.S. military is in very real danger of growing weaker, losing its deterrent force, and being left unable to fight and win wars in defense of America.

There are those in Washington who believe that America can afford to slash the military in order to shift that money elsewhere. That, though, will leave the military hollow and ill-prepared for growing threats. In a newly released Heritage lecture on the Obama Doctrine of humble engagement with friends and enemies, Kim R. Holmes explains that despite the president’s claim that the world is more secure, serious threats remain, all while the military’s readiness is being depleted.

Clearly, the military is becoming weaker. You can argue that smaller is smarter, but at some point quantity matters. The military is getting smaller and weaker. It has already cancelled the F-22 and some F-35s, the C-17s are being delayed, and 100,000 forces are being taken out of the military’s end strength.

Yet Iran has become more aggressive and is closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Russia is far more aggressive and certainly not cooperating where we really need them to cooperate, such as on Syria and Iran. Our relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated sharply. It frankly is already acting as an adversary in some areas and may become even more so in the future. . .

There’s also the question of the future in Afghanistan. The Taliban clearly think that they are winning the conflict and only need to wait us out. It is entirely possible that after 2014, there will be areas in Afghanistan that again become safe havens that the Taliban and other terrorists control.

Despite these threats — not to mention China’s growing strength and North Korea’s erratic pursuit of nuclear weapons — future defense spending will be cut across the board by nearly $500 billion beginning next year, on top of the $487 billion in cuts proposed by President Obama in February. Those cuts will leave America with a military that is less prepared to defend the nation while signaling to our enemies that we have a weaker hand to play on the world stage.

In Heritage’s video, Kachejian explains that “The big picture is, the military really is a national insurance policy. Its primary purpose is to deter war, and if you have to go to war, it has to win it as fast and inexpensively as it can.” That insurance policy is about to lapse unless Congress acts to ensure that the U.S. military has the resources it needs to effectively defend America.

Today from 9 to 10 a.m. ET, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) will speak at The Heritage Foundation on why conservatives should fund and support a strong national defense. Click here to watch live online or view the archived video after the event.

Mike Brownfield oversees execution of The Heritage Foundation’s social networking strategy and online media outreach as the think tank’s senior digital communications associate.

This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.

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