Editor’s note: The following op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Examiner and was republished with permission.
By Jim Banks
Actions speak louder than anonymous sources.
Pictures and quotes can be fabricated or taken out of context. What’s much harder to spin are actual policies. And if you look at President Trump’s record on the military, there’s only one conclusion: He holds the military in the highest regard.
As a veteran of the Navy who has served on the House Armed Services Committee since 2017, I have been proud to help Trump rebuild our military. Under President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s watch, the military was left depleted. We had planes falling out of the sky, ships breaking down at sea, and more service members dying during training than in combat operations. Trump’s first priority when he came to Washington was to undo their damage, and to that end, he has invested more money in our military, given the troops pay raises, and taken care of military families.
Obama and Biden used budget sequestration to accomplish one of their political goals — shrinking the military. Together, they decreased our defense budget by $187 billion over eight years and laid off 40,000 members of the Army.
While Obama and Biden focused on hamstringing our military, the world became less safe absent of America’s leadership. The Islamic State rose to power and started a worldwide terror spree that killed more than 1,200 people outside of Iraq and Syria. China and North Korea banded together as allies as China threatened U.S. maritime claims in the South China Sea. Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, causing tensions in Eastern Europe to flare to a level not seen since the Cold War. And Iran scored a major victory when it fooled the international community into believing it would abandon its nuclear weapons program.
There were roughly 200,000 troops stationed overseas toward the end of the Obama administration, and they knew they lived in a world less safe because of Obama’s leadership. It’s no wonder they supported Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a 3-1 ratio.
Four years and three defense budgets later, the military is feeling the effects of the $2.2 trillion that Trump has invested in it. We’ve purchased the finest planes, missiles, rockets, ships, and other military equipment the United States has to offer. Other countries have noticed our buildup. Since Trump adopted Reagan’s “peace through strength” strategy, we are engaged in less deadly and less costly foreign incursions, fulfilling the president’s campaign promise to end “endless wars.”
Our troops don’t just have new equipment; they bring home bigger paychecks, too. Just last year, the troops received their biggest pay raise in almost a decade, with another similar-sized pay raise planned for next fiscal year.
That’s not all the president’s done to help improve wages for our military families. I was glad to see him sign executive orders written to make it easier for military spouses to get jobs. Military families have to go where their country needs them, and consequently, military spouses end up being underemployed and worried about finances. Trump’s executive orders alleviate some of the pressure on these families.
Not only are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen happy, so are the members of the world’s first ever Space Force, who are having their dreams come true.
That’s just what the president’s accomplished for our active-duty military — I could write another piece about what he’s done to prioritize care for our veterans.
This is why people in the U.S. don’t buy the latest anonymously sourced article from the Atlantic. Producing outlandish quotes attributed to nameless, faceless identities “close to the president” is a tired trick. The president’s successful policies are the real story, and it’s a story that deserves to be on the front page.