It’s one of the most legendary military units in the long history of the U.S. Army, so legendary that its gained the nicknames “the tip of the spear” and the “Screaming Eagles.” Now, a new report has revealed that the 101st Airborne was decimated by budget cuts during the Obama administration.
The 101st Airborne is based out of Fort Campbell, a sprawling institution that straddles the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. It was the division featured in “Band of Brothers,” it parachuted into Normandy before Allied troops landed there on D-Day, and it’s fighting today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet, as Fox News reported, times have been a lot leaner around Fort Campbell in recent years, and that’s thanks to the Obama administration.
“We used to have two aviation brigades here, over 200 aircraft, and now we are down to just one aviation brigade and slightly over 100 aircraft,” Col. Craig Alia, the 101st’s commander of the combat aviation brigade, told Fox.
Alia has seen three deployments into Iraq and Afghanistan. He was asked if the 101st could quickly deploy overseas to conduct a major, brigade-sized assault if it were necessary, Alia was pessimistic.
“We could not,” he said. “We don’t have the crews to do it.”
It wasn’t just budget cuts that have been plaguing the 101st, either. President Obama’s troop caps in Afghanistan meant that while the unit’s attack helicopters went over, maintenance was performed by civilian contractors.
“Our maintainers left back here did not have a fleet of aircraft to work on,” Lt. Col. Kenric Smith, the 101’s aviation support commander, told Fox News. As a result, skills in terms of aircraft maintenance deteriorated. Now, Apache maintenance that once took 30 days at Fort Campbell now takes “twice as long,” according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hodgson.
“The crews we have here are becoming fatigued,” Hodgson added. “(But) they will do whatever they can to accomplish the mission.”
Amazingly, some former Obama officials have actually said that people in the military are making up the problem.
“This is a time when the services, if you will, want to put their worst foot forward and make clear all the problems that are there,” Robert Hale, a Defense Department official under the Obama administration, said last month. “So, I think we need to be a little skeptical.”
Thankfully, this trend is likely to be reversed under a Trump administration pledged to rebuilding the military. According to The Nashville Tennessean, the administration has allocated $54 billion in new military spending, some of which will end up at Fort Campbell.
It won’t fully repair the damage done under Obama, but it’s certainly a start.
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H/T U.K. Daily Mail