Issue Position: National Defense

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2016

Today, the United States faces a broad number of threats around the world. From ISIL to al Qaeda to countless other groups around the world, terrorism remains a foremost threat to our interests at hom and abroad. China is rapidly growing its military and belligerently expanding its presence in the South China Sea. Russia continues to occupy Crimea and remains a destabilizing force across Ukraine. The flow of drugs from South America is relentless. Piracy disrupts shipping lanes around the Horn of Africa. Threats are widespread, diverse and persistent.

As a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I know full well the need for a strong, well trained and well equipped military that is capable of addressing any crisis that arises. Yet, despite our military strength, we have a responsibility to avoid engaging our forces in conflicts unless it is absolutely necessary. As a Member of Congress, supporting the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces and securing our national defense are some of my highest priorities.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Recent events in Iraq and Syria are deeply concerning. With ISIL successfully capturing cities across both countries, exposing millions of people to brutal violence, and killing thousands, this is both a humanitarian disaster and a risk to regional stability. This type of volatility is clearly not in the interest of our national security.

As we grapple with how to respond, it is critical we keep in mind the 4,486 service members we lost in Iraq, including 94 from the state of Indiana. The war in Iraq was devastating for the American people both in terms of lives and financial costs, which is why I am opposed to the idea of once again putting a large-scale contingent of troops on the ground in Iraq. Alternatively, we should be looking at options that will minimize our commitment while still supporting our interests in the region, including air strikes, use of special operations forces, airborne surveillance support, and logistical support for the Iraqi military.

I remain supportive of coalition airstrikes against ISIL and the deployment of advisers to Iraq to better ensure the Iraqi government is prepared to counter this threat. It is important that we take these steps to ensure that more significant involvement does not become necessary.

Engagement Abroad

For far too long, the United States has acted alone to address threats around the world. This has overstretched our military and strained our relationships with many countries and people. While we must always be willing to act when threatened, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to engage international partners to participate in and lead military efforts. Whether through military aid and sales to allies or coalition building before entering a conflict, engagement with our partner nations only saves American lives and tax dollars but it adds international legitimacy to our actions.

Military Strength and Readiness

Over the past ten years, we have asked a tremendous amount of our men and women in uniform--many of whom have been deployed for five or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such repeated deployments put terrible strain on service members and their families, which can require months or years to be fully overcome. While I understand the strategic need to redeploy troops with minimal time for rest and training, I believe that this should be reserved for only the most critical times when our national security is at imminent risk. We have the best trained, most powerful military in the world. However, these repeated deployments exhaust our troops, wear down equipment, and prevent our military from functioning at its peak capability. We need more focus on preparing for future conflicts through rest, training and analysis of lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.