By James ‘Spider’ Marks, Major General, Ret., The Daily Caller, December 30, 2017
On the top of President Trump’s to-do list for 2018 is a plan to upgrade and expand America’s failing infrastructure. With our nation’s roads, dams and power plants in collapse, the administration’s focus on infrastructure could not be more timely. According to the World Economic Forum, the United States continues to lag behind several countries such as Japan, France, United Arab Emirates and South Korea in infrastructure. Crumbling dams, the rising cost of traffic congestion, chronic underfunding and countless other preventable issues earned the United States a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report card. (I understand the D but why the +? We must be doing something right!)
Inarguably, increasing infrastructure investment would better our lives in many ways. It would shave off time on morning commutes, reduce injuries and fatal accidents, and make electricity and water utilities more affordable. But what is not sufficiently considered is that improvements to bridges, highways, waterways, and power systems accomplish good beyond our own convenience and finances. Maintaining innovative and safe infrastructure is imperative in protecting our national security.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower popularized this concept — that infrastructure plays a key role in national security. As a young officer in 1919 during a cross country, motorized military convoy, Eisenhower and his soldiers encountered inadequate bridges and limited access to clean drinking water. Unsafe conditions sank heavy trucks in mud and ran them off dirt roads.
If America’s infrastructure is a D+ today, Eisenhower must have given it an F back then. Moving troops and supplies across the country during wartime was simply a task too great; it could not be done safely or swiftly. He knew our infrastructure needed a big fix in order for our military to properly defend the homeland.
Luckily, much progress has been made since the mid-century. Inspired by his disastrous experience on that military convoy many decades before, President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law. The law, also known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, provided a 90/10 federal to state funding split for road construction. Today, national security remains a priority in keeping our infrastructure up to date and sufficiently funded.
According to Eisenhower, the goal was to address “the appalling inadequacies to meet the demands of catastrophe or defense.” His warning is no less relevant today. America’s infrastructure is ill prepared to handle the challenges we routinely face with nature – hurricanes, tornadoes, mud slides, wild fires, flooding – and the increasing threat from rogue nations such as North Korea and non-nation actors.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un remains unchecked in his efforts to build out his missile program and test nuclear weapons. However likely or unlikely an attack on the US mainland might be, without updated infrastructure, the disastrous effects of a ballistic missile strike against the US would multiply. Large-scale blackouts and roadway gridlock for evacuees are the least of the worries. Large scale suffering and an unrelenting stress on access to medical care would crush any hint of civility. The United States would be in chaos. These are not hyperbolic predictions of a dystopian reality. Sadly, this is possible. Much of this chaos could otherwise be avoided if Congress takes action to improve our infrastructure now.
Read full article here.