The US military’s ability to deploy troops, strategic assets, and supplies effectively, efficiently, and without interruption around the globe is critical to our national security. Military readiness and the projection of power abroad are key pillars of our nation’s strength. As a former Navy SEAL and CIA paramilitary operations officer, I know firsthand how important reliable airlift is to our ability to meet global mission requirements. We cannot stand for any weakening of our readiness, especially by foreign nations who circumvent our trade laws.
This week, President Donald Trump again demonstrated his commitment to keeping America safe by upholding the importance of military readiness, and took action to ensure that his promise is kept to the American military and American workers. As he said in his first State of the Union address, “The era of economic surrender is totally over.”
During his recent State of the Union address, President Trump stated: “From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and very importantly to be reciprocal.” Trump and his administration took action to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair. Using his skills as a negotiator and a dealmaker, the president and his team brought the nation of Qatar, a strategic military ally in the Gulf, to the negotiating table and secured a deal that protects American aviation jobs now and in the future. Qatar and its state-owned airline have been accused of cheating their aviation trade agreements with the United States by distorting the marketplace with subsidies and seat dumping.
This is not only unfair to American workers who must compete against these subsidies; it also puts U.S. national security at risk. President Trump said “no more,” and ensured that a framework was put in place to prevent further harm to America’s economy. Qatar now must abide by international accounting rules, and will no longer fly indirect routes (known as 5th Freedoms flights) to the United States. This will ensure that their marketplace distortion will end or they will face penalties and is critical not only to safeguarding U.S. jobs, but also for ensuring our military is prepared to meet challenges around the globe.
When I served the Navy, our Special Operations Forces regularly deployed around the world — to dozens of countries — and we often relied on our nation’s commercial aviation industry for transportation. I therefore have a profound appreciation for the role the U.S. civil air transport industry plays in our nation’s military preparedness, supplementing the resources of our Defense Department. When Qatar was cheating our trade agreement, they were undercutting our civil air transport partners upon whom our military relies. That put U.S. workers at a disadvantage and put the U.S. companies and workers the military relies on at unacceptable risk. The actions taken by the Trump Administration this week will help to level the playing field for U.S. workers, and safeguard the readiness of our civil air transport partners when the military needs them.
As President Trump said on Tuesday evening: “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.” President Trump is a man of strong words, followed up with robust action. His work this week to keep America safe and to keep our trade fair is proof of that.
Robert Mitchell is a cybersecurity entrepreneur, former Navy SEAL and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer.