The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said the Obama administration has left the United States vulnerable to a growing list of enemies.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a resolution Thursday to put Moldova on the U.S.’s radar, arguing that it’s another country now vulnerable to Russian aggression. Inhofe told TheBlaze he hopes it will send a message that the former Soviet state, located between Russia, Turkey and European Union, is not up for grabs. He admitted, however, there is little the U.S. can do militarily to stop Moscow’s aggression if President Vladimir Putin chooses to move forward.
“Here’s the problem, our military leaders admit we are weakened to the point that we cannot do one longterm contingency plan,” Inhofe told TheBlaze after Thursday’s hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2015. “What do you think is going through the minds of potential adversaries out there? Our enemies don’t fear us, our friends don’t trust us — this is what the Obama administration has done. We have a direct interest in that part of the world. While Obama disarmed America, [our enemies] have been expanding in every area.”
[sharequote align=”center”]”While Obama disarmed America, [our enemies] have been expanding in every area.” [/sharequote]
The resolution also stresses that a “stable Europe is a key priority for the United States, and this can only be achieved if the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected,” Inhofe said.
Russia currently has 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian eastern border and roughly 1,200 near the Moldova border. U.S. intelligence officials access that there is a strong possibility that Putin is also preparing to move those troops toward Moldova in the near future, much like he did in last month’s annexation of Crimea.
A U.S. official told TheBlaze that based on Putin’s continued statements that the Kremlin is protecting Russian speakers in the region, “it should be no surprise if he does just that — but it wouldn’t be for protection.”
Inhofe said that while the U.S. continues to cut back on the military and research enemies like Russia, Iran and China are building up their capabilities.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh told Inhofe during Thursday’s hearing that severe budget and program cuts to the military has left the United States vulnerable to its enemies and barely able to sustain one longterm war.
“Anytime you have the chairman of the Joint Chiefs say that in our degraded [military] position it would be immoral to use force it’s shocking,” Inhofe said. “This is an America I never thought I would see. It’s not just embarrassing, it’s dangerous.”
Inhofe asked Odierno during the hearing, “if we’re in the middle of one longterm contingency operation … what do you think is going through their minds, potential adversaries out there?”
Odierno said troop cuts, particularly in the active military component as compared to reserves, would affect U.S. capabilities abroad.
“As we reduce the size of the active component, the responsiveness and the ability to do this is significantly degraded,” Odierno warned. “And that’s the cause for concern. We still need the guard and reserve levels because they provide us the depth and capability in order to execute longer-term strategies. And they also provide us some very unique capabilities that we don’t have in the active component.”
The Moldova resolution states that Putin “maintains a contingent of Russian troops and a stockpile of Russian military equipment and ammunition within the Moldovan territory of Transnistria.”
The new Inhofe resolution demands that Russia move “its military forces and material” from Moldova’s territory and sends a “strong signal that the U.S. and Congress will support Europe to stop Russia aggression,” a congressional official told TheBlaze.
“The importance of this bill is to make Moldova a national name here in America,” the congressional official added. “A majority of Americans have no idea Moldova exists, but Putin knows and it’s been on his radar for quite some time to rebuild what he lost in the Cold War. By passing this resolution, Inhofe and the Senate are helping to educate Americans on a country whose young democracy – only 20 years old – is vulnerable due to an irredentist Russia.”
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter