Museums. They are where millions of Americans go every year to interact with history and experience different cultures, and we have some of the best museums in the world right here in Washington, D.C. You can see Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Museum of American History, check out Apollo 11 at the Air and Space Museum, or relive ancient Egypt at the Museum of Natural History.
But to our armed forces, museums now serve a very different purpose.
The readiness crisis in our military has gotten so bad that Marines and Air Force pilots are literally going to museums to pull spare parts off old ships and airplanes.
As a recent news report explains, “Capt. Travis Lytton, who works to keep his squadron of B-1’s airborne, showed Fox News a museum aircraft where his maintainers stripped a part in order to make sure one of his B-1s could steer properly on the ground. ‘We also pulled it off of six other museum jets throughout the U.S.,’ Lytton said."
This is not what museums are for.
The Air Force employs B-1 bombers to strike ISIS targets within Iraq and Syria, but a constant need for maintenance and repairs—especially without key replacement parts on hand—has forced the military to instead use older, B-52 planes. This has directly contributed to a decline of U.S. airstrikes on ISIS. Pulling planes like the B-1 out of commission for extended periods of time has also forced cutbacks to training hours, leaving pilots less prepared to get in the cockpit.
These shortfalls are not exclusive to the Air Force or Marines. Every branch of our armed forces suffers from various readiness gaps, which directly inhibit our troops’ ability to safely and efficiently execute their missions.
That’s why the House acted last week to close this dire readiness gap. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) boosts base funding by $18 billion over the president’s budget request so the military has the tools it needs to keep us safe. This is an important step necessary to build a 21st century military, which is central to our forthcoming vision for a safer, stronger, and more confident America.