The past eight years of willful blindness and neglect from President Barack Obama and his administration have resulted in an unprecedented reduction in American influence on global affairs. Not only has this approach harmed our diplomatic relationships, but it also degraded our Department of Defense’s ability to effectively defend our national security.


Instead of rising to meet the challenges facing our nation and our allies, President Obama supervised the reduction of our military capabilities, in some cases to historically low force levels. These force reductions have also rippled through Texas, negatively impacting not just the members of our armed forces, but also their families, local communities and industries that help provide for our national security.


Our military leaders have been unambiguous that the U.S. still possesses the world’s most powerful military, manned by the world’s finest warriors. But each of those leaders has also told Congress that we face a precipice: that continued reduction in our military capabilities could fundamentally alter the United States’ ability to achieve our national strategic objectives.


Thankfully, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Gen. James Mattis, a Marine’s Marine and the right man at the right moment in history to lead the Department of Defense. Mattis has an impressive understanding of the challenges facing our national security and a realistic assessment of the serious work ahead as we seek to rebuild our military capabilities. Although Congress has, in the past, required seven years to elapse before former active-duty nominees can serve, I support a waiver for Mattis, like the great Gen. George Marshall received, for these reasons.


During our conversation and in written testimony, Mattis gave me full confidence that he will work tirelessly to restore what has been degraded under the Obama administration. His leadership will be vital to rebuilding our armed forces, and the state of Texas stands to benefit greatly from the policies he has committed to pursuing, specifically as they relate to our state’s military infrastructure, federal military spending and the values that should define our military’s mission and its management of our soldiers.


Mattis has committed to the successful completion of a fifth-generation air-superiority platform, which is good news for the F-35 joint strike fighter program based in Texas after years of uncertainty surrounding its future. His priority to bolster our nation’s future air superiority will not only maintain Texas’ strong military presence, but also provide necessary support to many of our closest allies, including Israel.


Additionally, Mattis supports rebuilding our military so that it has the necessary resources to operate decisively in multiple theaters simultaneously. Texans should look forward to such an accomplishment, which would require the administration to seek an increase of at least 60,000 soldiers to achieve a minimum force strength of 540,000, a development that would restore Brigade Combat Teams to Texas, further bolstering the military presence in our state.


Regarding military spending, I am very encouraged by Mattis’ resounding support for the goal of Department of Defense audit readiness. We must absolutely ensure that our nation’s armed forces have everything they need to defend our nation and accomplish the mission while looking out for the welfare of our troops. But we must also ensure responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources as they fulfill their mission. Mattis’ commitment to this goal will improve the national security of the United States and alleviate burdens on the American taxpayer.


Finally, I am encouraged by Mattis’ stated commitment to stopping the culture of political correctness in the military, which distracts our military leadership from its No. 1 mission of defending our country. He has also affirmed his belief in the free exercise of religion as a founding principle of our nation. I could not agree more, and I am confident that the general will reverse the Obama administration’s outrageous hostility toward religious freedom in the military, including ceasing cases of punishing military chaplains for expressing their beliefs while doing their jobs.


Taken together, Mattis’ policy positions represent a badly needed breath of fresh air that will reinvigorate the United States armed forces and strengthen Texas’ role in supporting our national defense. After eight years of neglect, our military and our national security are in a precarious position. Our adversaries have grown bolder, and our allies have become less sure of America’s will.


Mattis is an exceptional selection who will restore the warrior ethos to our military, banish political correctness and direct our concerted energy at defeating our enemies and protecting our homeland. I look forward to supporting his nomination.


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz represents Texas. He wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.


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