The president's promise of "Hope and Change" is, unfortunately, resulting in the wrong kind of change for our nation's military.
In addition to leaving America with the smallest Army since WWII, the smallest Navy since WWI and the smallest Air Force ever, thousands of Americans in the defense sector are at increased risk of losing jobs during these times of 9 percent unemployment and extreme economic turmoil, due largely to the president's defense and economic policies. The military's weapons systems are aging at an unprecedented rate, yet replacements are being delayed or cancelled.
Long a target of the political left, defense programs and related personnel are just beginning to feel the impact of the president's policy priorities.
Over a year ago, the Obama White House arbitrarily directed the Defense Department to cut $500 billion without first considering the impacts. This is in addition to $300 billion in cuts President Obama mandated during his first year in office. With the Super Committee's failure, we face "sequestration," which would cut still another half trillion dollars from the defense of this country. Unfortunately, the president voiced opposition to any effort to limit this impact.
At Utah's Hill AFB, as a result of Obama's second directive, we see the impacts of downsizing and reorganization of the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). This could mean significant future changes in the civilian workforce working depot maintenance programs. While Utah has been spared large personnel reductions so far, the continuing budget distress projects a troubling future not just for Utah, but for the nation.
Recently, the Air Force agreed to modify some of its reorganizational plan, including elements at Hill AFB, and the Air Force has attempted to re-establish the traditional positive working relationship with Congress. Progress has been made with the Air Force on resolving local concerns, but concerns linger. There are tremendously dedicated and capable persons serving in today's Air Force, both military and civilian, who take the hand that is dealt them by the president and try to make it work. However, if sequestration for defense is not avoided, much of what has been resolved will be surpassed by larger and as-yet unknown dislocations starting in Fiscal Year 2013 and beyond.
Some naively say this concern is only about saving jobs at Hill AFB. No. This is about the local impact of the larger issue of defense of our nation. National defense is a core, constitutional responsibility. While defense should not be exempt from budget scrutiny, the current meat cleaver approach to programs and civilian jobs will harm our nation and economy. It is something I will continue to oppose.
Rep. Bishop represents Utah's First Congressional District.