Rep. Buck McKeon

During his successful presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan introduced the American electorate and the broader international community to a new doctrine that would contribute greatly to defeating the Soviet Union.  His idea of achieving “peace through strength” still resonates in today’s world and President Obama should welcome it as cornerstone of his Administration’s strategy to protect America.

Recent decisions by the President and several high-ranking officials within his Administration suggest the Commander-in-Chief is intent on following a different approach.  As Congress crafts the defense authorization bill in the coming weeks, Republicans on the Armed Services Committee will look to alter the Administration’s path and put forth a set of priorities to defend America.

First, Republicans are committed to providing our troops the time and resources they need to win in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We supported the President’s decision to increase our troop commitment in Afghanistan.  However, many of us questioned whether the increase of 30,000 warfighters was actually a cap, which could squeeze out key enablers.  Our members will seek to make certain that any real or perceived troop cap does not mean key life-saving assets, such as medical evacuation, force protection, and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) capabilities, are withheld from our brave troops.

Military families are under enormous stress.  We will continue to ensure our troops and their families continue to receive the support they have earned.  Additionally, Armed Services Committee Republicans will ensure military families continue to have access to high quality health care at an affordable price.

While winning the current conflicts must remain our top priority, we feel that winning those should not preclude us from posturing our military appropriately so America can effectively deter future adversaries.  Decisions made by the Administration in near- and long-term investments could jeopardize our ability to deter future aggressors.

Armed Services Committee Republicans will work to reshape the Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which was designed to forecast future threats and shape the Pentagon’s investment decisions to meet those challenges.  This year’s QDR provided the force structure of 2009 instead of a force structure for 2029, as required by the statute.

Additionally, we will look to press the Administration to design plans to deal with Iran’s nuclear and military ambitions.  In an effort to appease some in the international community, the President scrapped plans for a robust missile defense system in Europe that would have protected the United States homeland and our European allies from an Iranian missile threat.  Republicans will hold the Administration accountable for designing and deploying its own missile defense plan for Europe, as well as continue developing long-range interceptors as a hedge against overly optimistic threat assessments and design schedules.

Finally, Republicans will make it clear that we do not support importing terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay into the United States—neither for confinement nor trial.  Too many former Guantanamo detainees have returned to the battlefield and are actively trying to harm Americans.  We will hold President Obama accountable and demand he finally develop a comprehensive set of policies and procedures for the detention and prosecution of terrorists captured in the ongoing war on terror.

By embracing President Reagan’s “peace through strength” mantle, Armed Services Committee Republicans will offer stronger alternatives to defend America against current and future threats.  The price to our collective security could be too high if we wait to act.

This blog is part of Heritage’s Protect America Month, a series of products and events showcasing why we must commit to protecting America in an increasingly dangerous world.

U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) serves as the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.  McKeon represents California’s Twenty-Fifth Congressional District, which includes Fort Irwin, Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center.

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