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This fall is shaping up to be a busy time for the debate on defense spending. While every military spending bill is critical, this year’s comes at a particularly significant time for our security.

In his proposal for 2017, President Obama cut $100 billion from the amount his own secretary of defense, Bob Gates, anticipated our military would need in 2017.

This estimate came well before Russia began invading its neighbors, China started creating new islands in contested waters, the president extended the mission in Afghanistan and the Islamic State declared a caliphate and began bombing European cities.

What’s worse is that while proposing a significant increase in military deployments around the world, the president has not actually asked for additional funds to pay for their missions. Instead, he again cuts tens of billions from what the services say they need for training, maintenance and replacements for weapons so worn out they can no longer be repaired.

The House and Senate are working together to address this readiness gap, beginning with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The term “readiness” is used often, but what does it really mean? Readiness is the ability to prepare for, support and accomplish a mission that the political leadership asks the military to do. Being “ready” requires the right number of people, who are capable, fully trained and appropriately equipped.

Budget cuts over the last few years, coupled with the pace and the number of military deployments, have created a readiness crisis across each of the services. Unfortunately, we are beginning to witness the tragic consequences.

“Class A” aircraft mishaps, accidents that lead to fatalities or loss of the aircraft, are up 84 percent in this fiscal year over the 10-year average for the Marine Corps. Earlier this year, 12 Marines were killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise off Hawaii, and 11 more were killed in a similar incident off Florida’s Gulf Coast last year. Similar trends are emerging in the Army.

The Washington Examiner — along with Fox News, CNN, the Washington Post and others — have revealed the real-world consequences of these trends, reporting that recent fatal domestic training accidents are causing alarm, flight-training hours are below acceptable levels and that troops are cannibalizing aircraft in museums to meet current operational needs.

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This situation is taking a real and personal toll on our most valuable resource — our people.

I have seen it in the eyes of pilots who are not getting even the minimum number of flying hours to stay proficient. I have also seen it with mechanics who are working longer and longer hours with no days off to keep those planes flying. And I have seen it in the frustration of a commander about to deploy but not knowing when — or if — he will get the equipment he needs.

Congress owes our Armed Forces a solution. That is why correcting readiness shortfalls is a major emphasis in both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. Both bills begin to reverse cuts to troop strength, increase investments in training and maintenance programs and boost funding to rebuild crumbling facilities like barracks, runways and hangars.

Recognizing that some of our equipment is too worn out to fix, it restores funds for replacement weapons. Both bills also give our troops a pay raise and make needed reforms to acquisition and the Pentagon bureaucracy.

House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders will continue to negotiate a final version of the NDAA, after a bipartisan majority of members in both chambers have voted to increase defense spending above current spending caps. Press reports indicate that the White House is preparing a supplemental request to fund some of the operations not covered by the president’s original budget, but not all.

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The American people are becoming increasingly alarmed about this emergency readiness crisis facing our men and women in uniform. Understandably so. Congress has a responsibility to do what is right for our troops and our security, and to do it immediately.

Mac Thornberry represents Texas’ 13th congressional district in the House of Representatives. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

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