Taking on China Requires a Strengthened Workforce.

Author:Banks, Jim

* During my time in the Navy Reserves I saw the impressive capabilities the Defense Department could deliver to our men and women at the frontlines. It has seen enormous successes during the past several years: the fifth-generation capabilities of the F-35, the elaborate network of our satellite communication systems and advanced undersea detection capabilities. I am proud of our military and want to ensure that it is prepared for the future fight.

However, I've also seen some of the department's weaknesses during my time in the Navy and now in Congress. Many of these weaknesses revolve around thick government bureaucracies and inefficiencies.

For example, according to the department's own 2019 Digital Modernization Strategy, it maintains 10,000 information technology systems at a staggering cost of more than $46.4 billion annually, as requested for fiscal year 2019. Several of these systems are outdated and ill-managed, creating a self-imposed burden in the task of effective communication security.

The Defense Department also struggles with the fresh and strategic thinking needed to innovate and outpace our adversaries. For instance, we are still fighting our longest war--a war I served in during 2014 and 2015--that began before the birth of some of our current servicemembers. The Defense Department vulnerabilities that have stalled the progress in Afghanistan continue to concern me, especially as we face growing threats from China.

Beijing is eager to exploit our weaknesses and build up areas in which the United States is vulnerable. The United States now needs to fight to cement its hard-fought place as the leader of the liberal world order. We can no longer ignore threats from revisionist powers. On the House Armed Service Committee, I constantly strive to provide congressional oversight that doesn't impede the Defense Department's efforts, but provides accountability and ensures our armed forces are equipped with the resources they need to operate at their level best.

To face our long-term strategic competitors, the department must focus time and resources to meet our greatest challenges and fully align to the needs addressed in the National Defense Strategy.

The Ronald Reagan Institute's Task Force on 21st Century National Security Technology and Workforce--which included several distinguished government and private sector thought-leaders--sought to shed light on the systematic and underlying challenges our military faces, and create...

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