Four men and one woman lay dead—among them, Osama bin Laden. The operation, which was planned for months, came after years of searching and intelligence gathering. In the end, it was America’s use of “hard power” and the strategic interrogations of detainees that brought about an end to the terrorist mastermind. But make no mistake, the long war against terrorism is not over.

Thankfully, bin Laden is gone, but the terrorist threat still remains, along with continued operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. That work is vital to ensuring that another 9/11 does not occur and that another bin Laden does not emerge from the abyss to attack our homeland and our people. But despite those conflicts—and a new one in Libya—President Barack Obama has called for $400 billion in cuts to our already overstretched military, undermining its constitutional role of protecting America.

Jim Talent, distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation and former U.S. senator explains:

The Navy has fewer ships than at any time since 1916. The Air Force inventory is smaller and older than at any time since the service came into being in 1947. The Army has missed several generations of modernization, and many of its soldiers are on their fourth or fifth tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Reserves have been on constant mobilization; many vital programs, such as missile defense, have been cut; and in the past two years, no fewer than 50 modernization programs have been ended.

Giving our military the tools and funding it needs is one of five key steps America must take to win the long war on terror, according to Heritage’s James Carafano. Others include finishing the job in Afghanistan and Iraq, continuing to hold terrorists accountable, staying alert on the home front and utilizing security measures that maintain our freedom and safety. Carafano writes:

Now is the wrong time to take the foot off the pedal in the effort to crush the transnational terrorist threats aimed at the United States and its friends and allies. There is important work for Washington to do to ensure that the likes of al-Qaeda never threaten Americans with the likes of 9/11 again.

That’s why this May, The Heritage Foundation will focus on the need for American leaders to commit themselves to our country’s defense during the third annual Protect America Month. The month will include special Heritage publications, events and speeches by national leaders. The Honorable Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, will deliver the opening address on Thursday, May 5, discussing the state of our military. All events will be streamed live at Heritage.orgClick here to view the full schedule.

Just as killing bin Laden was not the work of one man or one woman, ensuring our common defense and winning the war on terror is not just a Republican or a Democrat issue. Over the past 20 years, administrations of both political parties have underfunded the military—all while increasing our military’s commitments abroad to confront an increasingly hostile world, without sustaining the capabilities necessary to fulfill them. That is tremendously unfair to the servicemen and women who protect us, and highly dangerous to the American people.

The death of bin Laden was a tremendous victory, but the war is not yet over. We ask our military men and women to put their lives on the line in order to protect America. Now it’s up to Congress and the president to give them the tools they need to get the job done today and into the future.

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