By Andrew Parker
During a speech at last week's Quad-A Forum & Exhibition, U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) laid out the goals of the Army Aviation Caucus (AAC), which he formed in December 2011 with co-chairman Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.). Brooks also provided an update on the current financial situation facing the U.S. government, addressing the "800-pound gorilla" in a room of hundreds of soldiers and conference attendees.
"In the United States, we face a very significant challenge, and we're going to have to work hard to be up to that challenge," Brooks said. "We've had three consecutive trillion-dollar deficits [and are] looking at a fourth trillion-dollar deficit this year--those are unsustainable and they're threats to our country." Last November, he continued, the U.S. "blew through" the $15 trillion debt mark, and are scheduled to go past $16 trillion sometime this year.
"Twice over the last three years Admiral Mike Mullen, when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to the House Armed Services Committee, and testified that the number one threat to the security of the U.S. was our debt," Brooks noted. "It's these deficits, and he's right--as much of a threat as Iran may be, as much as the threat of al-Queda or other various terrorist organizations, as much as a concern North Korea may be or the increasing military strength of China, the greatest threat to the U.S. is internal--it's this deficit and this debt."
If the government doesn't get the debt under control in a constructive way, he said, the U.S. is looking at "a series of cuts to our national defense that's going to do more harm to our national security than any enemy has been able to do in a long period of time." Brooks explained that the U.S. collected $2.3 trillion in revenues last year, but spent $3.6 trillion, amounting to a $1.3-trillion deficit. He compared it to the personal finances of a family.
"Imagine that you and your spouse have sat down at the dinner table and are wrestling with your finances--you really haven't been paying attention to them for a number of years, and you decide to go over it. You discover that you've been averaging $50,000 a year in income, and think, "We ought to be able to make do on that." Then you tally up your expenses for each of those three years, and you've been averaging $80,000 a year in spending," he said. The results aren't good, so "you start to get this hollow feeling in your stomach, and you and your spouse try to wrestle with it, looking at where to cut things," he added. As you're worrying about all of these things, Brooks said, "your spouse picks up the credit card bill, opens it up and it's for $320,000. Imagine the situation that family's in then, at that point bankruptcy's almost a certainty."
The congressman continued that those same ratios "are the ratios of the U.S. government. I hope that presses upon you the seriousness of the situation, and why there is so much anxiety emanating from Washington, D.C." There are plenty of solutions out there, he said, including "spending cuts, tax increases, growing the economy, or some combination of all three--but we have to grapple with the situation that we face."
Brooks explained that the Army Aviation Caucus is up to 40 members, and urged Quad-A attendees to speak with their representatives about joining the caucus.
"Remarkably, despite the size of this organization and despite the dozens or even perhaps hundreds of caucuses we have on Capitol Hill, there was not one for Army Aviation," he said. "The more people understand the role that Army Aviation plays in the success of our military endeavors, the more able we're going to be--as members of the U.S. Congress--to ensure that Army Aviation receives the funding that is required for it to do what needs to be done."
Rapid air response that can quickly react to shifting combat zones is a major part of the military's overall warfighting efforts, Brooks said. "Army Aviation is first in and last out. They are a critical component to the success of our troops that are on the ground," he added.