House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the military’s degraded readiness may prohibit the United States from successfully upholding red lines in relation to the ongoing conflict in Syria. McKeon’s comments came in response to the White House’s June 13 announcement that it now plans to arm Syrian rebels after intelligence reports concluded that President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the bloody two-year civil war. (See below). “Seventeen combat-coded Air Force squadrons are grounded due to budget cuts. A carrier battle group should be in the Middle East, but is instead in port. We just pulled the last A-10 ground attack squadron out of Germany because some felt that a forward operating presence was unnecessary for a so-called Cold War mission,” said McKeon, who noted more cuts are likely. “To my friends who think there is no risk to ever deeper cuts, I ask you to tell that to the airman and sailor who may well face down Syrian missiles in the coming weeks,” wrote McKeon. He added, “Here Congress and the White House agree in principal. Boundaries are useless unless they (are) enforced and resourced.”
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.