The epigram, "No good deed goes unpunished," rings true for today's military, particularly the U.S. Navy and Air Force.
Since World War II—in combat and during peacetime—American air power has been decisive. Not a single Soldier or Marine has been lost because of a threat from the air in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps have guaranteed freedom on the high seas for the past half-century.
Maritime control, air dominance, and power projection are just some of our military's core capabilities. But these can wither rapidly without purposeful, sustained investment. Too often, American policymakers take our military primacy for granted. They should not.
In reality, the U.S. armed forces are living off the fruits of the Reagan defense build-up nearly 30 years ago. Today, most major platforms desperately need modernization or next-generation replacements—in many cases, on a one-for-one basis.