The defense of the United States, its allies and our interests around the world is the
paramount duty of our government. Unless the sovereign diligently pursues its
responsibility, all of the rights we enjoy under the Constitution will be lost.
America has never sought to create an empire built on the shattered freedom of others. To
the contrary, we have always been a force for good seeking only peaceful economic
relations with others.
Because America is the only global superpower, it is our burden to defend our own freedoms
and enable our allies to defend their own. Simply put, if we don’t no one else will
because no one else can. This does not mean America should be the world’s policeman. To
the contrary, it means that the exercise of American power must be limited to times and
places where our interests are threatened.
From the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, the
communist empire was the source of the only significant threat. But today there are many
sources of a variety of threats. We cannot afford to ignore any of them even while we are
fully engaged against others.
To perform its principal task, our government must not only analyze the evolving threat
continuously, it must continue to develop the technologies that will meet the anticipated
threat and invest in the methods and means by which we can continue our ability to change
the course of events anywhere the need arises.
Despite the cost of fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, defense spending as a
share of the national economy and the Federal budget is at their lowest levels since the
end of the Second World War. At the close of President Obama’s first four years in office,
the most rapid growth in the budget is not defense spending but interest on the national
debt, while means-tested welfare spending will have exceeded the Department of Defense
budget. And at less than 5 percent of GDP, Obama is pushing for defense cuts that will
reach Clinton administration levels of 3 percent of GDP.
Nevertheless, both here and in the NATO nations, governments are looking for yet another
“peace dividend” to take from defense and use for social spending and to relieve budget
stress. But the “guns vs. butter” debate is a false one. Instead, we should be debating
how defense policy and investment can best be managed. It’s not a question of how much
defense we can afford, but rather how much, and what type do we need?
Revised Defense Policy Development: During the Reagan administration, the “defense
guidance” mechanism was established to determine Pentagon budgets. It was in three stages.
First, the best intelligence was used to analyze and determine the threats we had to
answer. Second, an analysis of the Pentagon “tool box” was accomplished to determine if we
had the right assets to meet the threats. Third, the Pentagon’s budget was derived from
the first two elements to determine what had to be developed and what had to be bought,
retired and otherwise acquired to ensure our national defense. This processs should be
Nuclear Deterrence: The advent of nuclear weapons and intercontinental delivery
systems fundamentally altered the security environment. Now, the threat has proliferated
among too many nations and – eventually – will likely include state-sponsored terrorist
groups. The United States must possess robust, modernized offensive and defensive systems
to protect the American people from devastating attacks that could cause unprecedented
casualties. A secure arsenal of nuclear missiles at the ready is a necessary but not
sufficient basis for deterrence. The possibility that deterrence will fail – and that some
nations, such as Iran, may not be susceptible of deterrence – requires that the U.S.
homeland and our forces abroad be protected from missile attack. A steady research,
development and deployment program to keep the country’s strategic strike and missile
defense systems endowed with the best available technology is the cornerstone of homeland
security and deterrance to protect our allies.
Conventional Warfare: Though we are engaged
in unconventional warfare in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we cannot believe that we will
never have to fight another conventional conflict. Nation-states are the focus of
international politics because they have the resources to support ambitious agendas that
can change the balance of power in key regions or even globally. Countering rising peer
competitors such as China, rogue states looking for regional dominance (and who also
present a proliferation threat), and state-sponsors of terrorism will require high-end
The line between conventional and unconventional warfare has blurred with the advent of
new battlefields such as cyberspace. Nations such as Georgia have already suffered massive
cyber attacks from Russia, demonstrating the need for American government, infrastructure
and military systems to be protected. Moreover, the capability for offensive cyber war,
now in its infancy, must be developed and built in a manner that equates our capabilities
in other fields of conventional war.
The last U.S. ground soldier to be killed by enemy aircraft died in 1953. Air supremacy
has been taken for granted ever since, but it is now in doubt. Both the Air Force and the
Navy are projecting massive near-term shortfalls in the number of fighters needed to
perform the services’ missions. America must continue to invest in future generations of
fighter aircraft to guarantee control of the skies so dominant that most adversaries will
not even attempt to contest it. And for those who do make that attempt, American pilots
must have the skills and technology needed to defeat their challenge.
Command of the seas has been a U.S. advantage that turns the oceans into a highway for
America and a barrier to any adversary. The country needs a balanced fleet of aircraft
carriers, surface warships, submarines, and amphibious units that can operate freely in
every corner of the globe. President Ronald Reagan wanted a 600-ship Navy, but today the
fleet has less than half that many warships in a world whose oceans are no smaller now
than they were then. Naval combatants must be developed and built to meet the threats
anticipated over the next decade and beyond.
Ground combat forces of the Army and Marine Corps have historically been the decisive
element in defeating conventional enemies. And since the first Gulf War in 1991, Special
Forces from all three branches have contributed enormously to our ability to defeat
conventional and unconventional enemies. The strain on all ground forces caused by their
near-continuous deployment since 2003 requires that their strength be restored. Moreover,
the technologies available to ground forces, while far better than they were two decades
ago, should be re-examined and rebuilt or replaced as the threat analysis indicates.
Support for Allies: Strategic reality demands that the U.S. put more effort into building
up the capacity of allies to defend themselves as well as fight alongside U.S. forces.
Most of our allies, especially the NATO nations, have refused to invest adequately in
their own defense and are now cutting back even more. Our diplomacy should take as a
principal objective the reversal of this trend. America has a long history of providing
friendly states with equipment, training, and other forms of security assistance on
inexpensive terms, as well as developing institutional arrangements that form enduring
ties with the U.S. military. Such an effort is more important than ever given the spread
of terrorism and local threats, which are best met by those who know the situation
Intervention by robust U.S. forces may be necessary to save a friendly government from
collapse, overthrow a rogue regime, or stabilize a perilous situation. But in the
long-run, and on a day-to-day basis, allies must provide for their own security. They must
not, however, feel isolated or abandoned. The U.S. must convey both to friends and foes
alike that it has the capability and will to support its allies should a major threat
Another principal goal of American diplomacy should be to form new reliable partnerships –
alliances, outside the UN framework — with states that share compatible foreign policy
and security interests. The Bush administration’s “Proliferation Security Initiative” or
PSI, which succeeded in allying several dozen nations against the proliferation of nuclear
and missile technology and weapons, should be a model for these efforts. The State and
Defense departments should make the determination of the overall status of relations
between the U.S. and a foreign government upon which the decision to give assistance is
Defense Industrial Base: “The vitality of the industrial and technology base of the
United States is a foundation of national security that provides the industrial and
technological capabilities employed to meet national defense requirements, in peacetime
and in time of national emergency.” This is the first Congressional finding in the Defense
Production Act (DPA) of 1950. The DPA was the result of the hard lessons the country had
learned from being repeatedly unprepared for the major wars of the 20th century. Its
wisdom must remain at the core of the economic component of national security.
In addition to guaranteeing security of supply, it is also essential that the nation’s
defense industrial capacity remains superior to that of potential adversaries. That must
begin in the high schools and colleges where the study of engineering and science should
be incented. The Defense Department’s “independent research and development” program – by
which the government pays part of the cost of research intended to accelerate the
development of new defense technologies – should be increased.
Production of major weapon systems and components should not be outsourced to overseas
suppliers. Nevertheless, if foreign firms develop new technologies that would be
advantageous to include in U.S. weapon systems, they should be required to license
production in the United States.
On the other hand, when allies wish to enter into contracts under which U.S. companies
would develop new weapon systems jointly with their industries, we should support those
efforts by enabling U.S. companies to share technologies, which we would otherwise permit
them to sell in the nations in question.
There should be a vigorous campaign to increase the sale of military equipment to allies
to enhance interoperability of systems as well as to reduce costs with larger production
runs. Licensing and financing should be streamlined to support the comparative advantage
that some U.S. defense companies enjoy in some markets.
In contrast to allies, there should be tighter restrictions on the sale of dual use
technology with military applications to potential rival powers.
Integration of Defense, Diplomatic and Economic Policy: For America to succeed in the 21th Century, we can no longer allow our defense policy, diplomacy and economic policies to be independent of each other. Every president should undertake to integrate the three, combining the strengths of each in our national interests.
ON THE WEB
- U.S. Department of Defense
- DOD Goes Green
- Joint Chiefs of Staff
- U.S. Cyber Command
- ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security
- The U.S. Practice of Collateral Damage Estimation and Mitigation
- Dick Morris TV: Our Magnificent Military
- Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Defense Drawdown
- Gaffney: Obama’s Defeatist Strategy
- Hanson: Heavy Price of Defense Spending Cuts
- Rumsfeld Foundation
- Beyond Band of Brothers
- Milicruit: Veterans Job Placement
- Wounded Warriors Project
- Wreaths Across America
- Marines Toys for Tots Foundation