September 20 – Our Government: Military Readiness

Is the U.S. Military Prepared?

Vital Sign Religious Freedom

Prior to the entry of the United States into World War I, a campaign began to increase America’s military capabilities and to convince the citizens of the need for American involvement in the conflict and ongoing military preparedness. Very shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, a small number of Americans—with former President Theodore Roosevelt being among the most prominent—sought to persuade the administration of President Woodrow Wilson and the population at large that the nation must prepare itself for war. The fate of occupied Belgium served as an example of what could happen to an unprepared nation.

The Institute for Defense & Business defines military preparedness or readiness as the capacity of the armed forces to engage in combat and fulfill assigned missions and tasks. Within the multiple branches of the military and the Department of Defense, that readiness is classified as “functional” or “logistical,” as preparation is required to cover both the physical and strategic components of missions. More specifically, readiness can also include preparedness in the event of uncertainty.

In April 2022, the U.S. Army War College War Room asked the question, “Is the nation prepared for war, and how do we know?” They asserted that the answer may not be clear. Their article laid out a framework for national preparedness and military readiness.

The U.S. has outpaced all other nations in military readiness. This country spends more on its military than China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom combined. Abraham Lincoln understood that the only nation with the power to destroy the United States was the United States itself. If America needed that warning during the time of Lincoln, how much more does it need to acknowledge it today?

“Woke” is a word that entered the American lexicon in the 2010s. The Cambridge Dictionary defines this as “a state of being aware, especially of social problems such as racism and inequality.”

In November 2021, three former West Point cadets said they withdrew from the service academy due in part to its “woke” curriculum. One of them stated, “I went to the academy hoping to serve my country and bring the fight to the enemy. I found myself instead in the classroom learning about how to be more sensitive. And this woke ideology that had taken over West Point really surprised me.”

In June 2021, a whistleblower site established by two legislators gathered comments from American military troops about “anti-American indoctrination seeping into parts of our military.” One Marine wrote on that site that his unit’s “mandatory military history training was replaced with training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism.”

When questioned by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee about some of the whistleblower reports, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “I would say… that diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to this military now and it will be important in the future. We are going to make sure that our military looks like America and that our leadership looks like what’s in the ranks of the military.” Before the House Armed Services Committee that same month, the defense secretary denied that the Pentagon subscribes to teaching critical race theory, saying, “We are focused on extremist behaviors and not ideology, not people’s thoughts, not people’s political orientation.”

America’s military is facing a recruiting shortfall, with officials saying there are not enough people signing up to serve. Across the board, all branches are experiencing a deficit of thousands of entry-level troops. Seventy-five percent of America’s 17 to 24-year-olds are ineligible to service in America’s military due to lack of education, obesity, or criminality.

Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes funding levels and provides authorities for the U.S. military and other critical defense priorities, ensuring our troops have the training, equipment, and resources they need to carry out their missions. The NDAA for 2023 identifies Russia, North Korea, and Iran as threats and describes China as the “most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge for the Department.”

Thomas Spoehr, Director of the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, speaking at the Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship for Hillsdale College in July 2022, stated that wokeness “takes time and resources away from training activities and weapons development that contribute to readiness.” He added, “And it undermines wholehearted support for the military by a significant portion of the American public at a time when it is needed the most.”

War and preparedness for it are subjects included in Scripture. Deuteronomy 20:1-4 says, “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.‘“

How then should we pray? 

  • For Defense Secretary Austin to receive and adhere to wise military counsel.
  • For the president as commander in chief to embrace a military policy that values preparedness.
  • For the Joint Chiefs of Staff as they advise the president on military preparedness.
  • For military educators and administrators as they evaluate the message of social justice and its place in the military.
  • That U.S. military officials discern the need for cohesion and mutual support within the ranks.
  • That the bond between fellow military members would be strong regardless of the training ideology for reliability.
  • That leadership, from the top down, would recognize the importance of the basic building blocks of a strong moral code: honor, discipline, and love of country.

See previous Pray 7 daily featured readings.

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