Top US generals warned lawmakers Tuesday that aging equipment, chronic underfunding and understaffing have severely impacted military readiness, as the Republican-led Congress hopes to usher in a spending bonanza under President Donald Trump.

The president has repeatedly said the vast US military is suffering from massive shortages and has vowed a “great rebuilding” of the armed services.

Many officials fret that budget caps, known as sequestration, implemented under Barack Obama, have left the military woefully depleted and lacking the readiness to deal with the full array of potential global threats.

So the testimony from four-star generals in the four main military branches before the House Armed Services Committee will provide meat for Republican lawmakers hoping to scrap the caps and oversee a massive military splurge.

The US military is already by far the world’s most powerful and most expensive. It has bases spanning the globe, an annual budget of more than $600 billion and about 1.3 million active duty troops.

But Republicans are keen to spend billions more, though for now it is unclear where the extra cash would come from, especially if the Trump administration cuts taxes.

“I continue to be concerned… by evidence that is accumulating on the damage inflicted upon our military in recent years and the stresses on the force,” said Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.

“With a new administration and a new Congress, we have the opportunity to begin the repairs,” he added.

‘Believe me’
Trump on Monday told leaders at US Central Command they would get “beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.”

“You are going to get a lot of equipment. Believe me,” he said.

General Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, told lawmakers that potential US adversaries have been modernizing their forces to compete with the United States.

Countries like China and Russia “have watched our fighting and they are preparing their forces. We need to prepare to fight any adversary,” Wilson said, while depicting an Air Force creaking with strain.

He said the average aircraft age is now 27, and the Air Force is short of 1,555 pilots and 3,400 aircraft maintainers.

Trump last month signed an executive order to begin increasing the size of the US military, promising new aircraft, naval ships and more resources for the Pentagon.

He has offered few specifics but has said he envisioned a naval fleet of 350 vessels, up from the navy’s current 274 and more than its 310-vessel target.

For next year’s budget, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has ordered a comprehensive review that among other things will focus on buying more munitions, funding Defense Department facilities at a higher rate and “growing force structure” as fast as possible.

After the withdrawal of most US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama oversaw a shrinking Pentagon budget but Republicans have long insisted cuts went too far and hurt US capabilities, especially in the face of Chinese and Russian military expansions.

  • Warren máson

    Maybe if the pentagon didnt tie itself to in house defence contractors and allowed a competitive tender with foriegn defence contractors from allied countries they wouldnt be in such a mess. With blow outs in spending on experimental solutions like F35 and Zumwalt, when there are plenty of good contractors out there with high tech, even superior gear, at better prices?

    • Brad

      There is nothing superior then the F35 (except the F22) . They have allowed foreign bidders if they agree to build it in the US which is exactly what most other countries require of contractors. The US can not and will not be held hostage by a foreign builder who refuses to sell articles or parts because of a political decission. You will always have overruns when you are egineering into the unknown , you make a calculated estimation and sometimes you are wrong , sometimes you are correct. The major problem the US finds itself in is it has been in constant battles for almost 16 years, and the Congress and previous administrations have robbed peter to pay paul and not because of cost overruns.

      • Warren máson

        Nevertheless, why then congress is so angry at the progress of a fighter controversally introdueced into service, and massed produced bfore meeting all of its operational capabilities? why has dassault rafaelle, eurofighter, even Sukoi 35 all have had no such issue? Its much vaunted 'stealth capability' has it ever been in a dogfight before? Flight global,daily mail, even govt media sources qoute the software malfunctions, avionics, performance with g force limitations, even prone to lightening? and a much smaller weapons array carried too, a third of the sukhoi 35. John Mcain and Trump himself have rubbished Locheed Martin over this.

        • Brad

          That part is politics and nothing more, the plane itself is loved by pilots and crew and 16 countries have upped the amount of planes they want. The only drop in price that the media has harped on is that the cost of devolpment is now spread over more planes then before.
          It has met all opertional capabilities, it is now forward deployed with the Marines. The Rafale is awesome but cost more and can do less , the Eurofighter is a proven 25 year old design that lacks stealth, The Russian junk is that just junk with 400 hour engines ,no stealth and typical russian quality. The software problems were fixed 3 years ago , it has a 9g airframe . It carries what a single engined F-16 carries and more then a twin engined rafale with the eception of the stovl version, and comparing quanity of load out to a large twin engined aircraft is useless, It should be noted that we use smart weapons something the Russians are just now trying. In short one 250 lb smart bomb is equal to 8- 500lb dumb bombs. Stealth has been proven in over 500 missions from Bosnia to Syria and current F22 missions which use the same generation of stealth have scared the pee out of Russia in Syria with one incident of a 6 pack of Russian SU35 s dropping weapons close to a US special forces unit only to find a pair of F22 behind them and locked on. The Russian pilots and air controllers never knew they were there until the F-22 locked on and deployed thier illumination package. John McCains district includes a Lockheed competitor and has always whined about anything Lockheed built from the F22 to the S-3 even the SR71 or the unbeatable F-117. Trump said he didnt like the aircraft but onced briefed has come out in favor of it but still wishes the price would go down. Thats politics and nothing more . Lockheed Martin 's F-35 is the best out there and 28 countries agree but they all want it for free and that wont happen.

          • Warren máson

            good article on youtube of a 2012 interview of F22 pilots saying the plane was poorly designed as pilots have suffered HYPOXIA

          • Brad

            That hypoxia issue was caused (very old issus) when the USAF told LM to use a 3rd party life support system, as designed the F22 was to use the F15s life support, In the end it now uses the F-15 E life support ssytem as LM wanted to do in the first place. The same one is in the F35 , This is now a non story unless you want to ask Clinton why the F-22 was forced to take the mediocre system. The dogfight is a thing of the past , If it ever gets into one its thrust vectoring with look and shoot technology will defeat the enemy just fine. The USA has prepostioned equipment around the world in friendly countries and on ships since the 1950's the theory is that in crisis you simple put troops in the states on standad civilian jets with thier personal weapons and fly then to the prepostioned equipment to arrive with in hours in a hot spot ready to fight. Its a policy that has worked well. We currently spend less then we did in 1990 in true dollars, having done 6 tours I agree that we need to do less but you can not let terrrorist go unchecked or you end up with another 9/11. As Mattis has said kill them all works fine by me.