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Executive SummaryAfter World War II, the leaders of theUnited States, on a bipartisan basis,made a deliberate decision to changeAmerica’s approach to global affairs. Thedisasters of the 20th Century to that point, andespecially the two World Wars, had made clear thatthe United States could no longer play a secondaryrole in the world. To protect America’s homelandand her vital national interests, and to prevent athird World War, it was necessary for the UnitedStates to assume a global leadership role, and tobuild a national security architecture that allowedher to execute that role effectively. To that end,the United States built alliances and partnershipswith like-minded nations, and developed andmaintained robust standing tools of power, hardand soft, with a view towards anticipating anddeterring the risk of aggression before it directlythreatened America’s vital interests.That policy eventually bore fruit in the late 1980’s,when the United States won the Cold War withoutfiring a shot.Since that time, however, American policy hasdrifted. An increasingly multipolar world hasbrought with it myriad new threats — globalterrorist organizations, rogue states like Iran andNorth Korea seeking access to nuclear weapons, aresurgent Russia looking to re-establish a sphereof influence on its eastern and southern borders,and a Chinese regime expanding and modernizingits military at a rapid pace. Yet even as threatscontinue to multiply, the Obama Administrationhas repudiated the operating principles of the postwarstrategy that kept America safe by allowing ouralliances and power to atrophy and disengagingfrom a global leadership role.But disengagement is not a prescription forAmerican security, nor is it the basis for asuccessful American foreign policy. We cannotcontinue to pretend that the world will get safer, orthat risk will go away, if we respond to threats withrhetoric or attempt to ignore them entirely. Thetumult of the last six years — and the last severalmonths in particular — have demonstrated thefailure of President Obama’s attempts to “leadfrom behind.” Instead, to preserve America’ssecurity, our leaders must explain that Americamust remain active in the world, that her strategicinterests must be protected, and that the way toprotect them isn’t to deploy at every sign of trouble,but to maintain the robust tools of a great power,both hard and soft, both military and diplomatic,and use those tools thoughtfully to protectAmerica and deter or contain conflict.We cannot continue to pretendthat the world will get safer, or thatrisk will go away, if we respond tothreats with rhetoric or attempt toignore them entirely.Unfortunately, the past several years havewitnessed a significant erosion in America’smilitary capabilities. Three years ago, then-DefenseSecretary Robert Gates, recognizing both thegrowing threats to our national security and thefragile state of our military force structure andreadiness, proposed modest increases in the overalldefense budget. In response, President Obamatook the unprecedented step of disregarding therecommendations of his own Defense Secretary,implementing nearly $1 trillion in cuts to thedefense budget over the next decade. At a timewhen our armed forces were already stressed fromfrequent combat deployments, these additionalcuts have further undermined a military indesperate need of repair.Rebuilding our military begins with establishinga confident and workable foreign policy thatAmericans understand and support — a vision —and a sober understanding, that few good things3

IntroductionThe foundation of America’s success throughoutthe Cold War was, first and foremost, a consensusabout strategy: about the most fundamentalends of American foreign policy and the meansnecessary to achieve it. Our presidents, leadersfrom both political parties, and most Americansagreed on the need for a strong, engaged foreignpolicy, and the tools needed to execute it —including, but by no means limited to, robustmilitary strength. To be sure, they disagreed often,and sometimes vociferously, about tactics, butthey agreed on what America was defending, whyshe was defending it, and why a strong defenserequired an understanding both of the interestsat stake and the capabilities that America had tosustain to protect those interests.That consensus sustained American policy duringthe turbulent years of the Cold War. It providedcontinuity through administrations of both parties,and a momentum which allowed the strategy tosurvive the setbacks which inevitably occurred.It would be a mistake to view that consensusas simply the product of jingoism. Instead, thestrategy which the United States adopted was theproduct of thoughtful and deliberate debate andconscious decision-making in the decade followingthe Second World War about how best to protectthe United States, her allies, her interests, andher values.Before 1941, the United States played a relativelypassive role in world affairs, at least outside theWestern Hemisphere. For most of this period,America’s geographic isolation protected her fromdirect attack, and America’s leaders believedthat the balance of power between the Europeanempires, and especially the dominance of Britishnaval power, created a framework which wouldprotect the vital interests of the United Statesaround the world.Two World Wars shattered that belief. The UnitedStates had been unable to remain neutral duringthe wars, and came close to losing both. Victoryhad come at great cost: tens of millions dead,European power destroyed, a totalitarian ideologyin control of Eastern Europe and taking control ofChina, and a new age of nuclear weapons raisingthe stakes of conflict to an unthinkable degree.Our presidents, leaders fromboth political parties, and mostAmericans agreed on the need fora strong, engaged foreign policy,and the tools needed to executeit — including, but by no meanslimited to, robust military strength.The old strategy had failed. It had preventedneither war nor aggression. It had contributed tothe collapse of the old order under which Americahad prospered, and had resulted in the prospect ofmore war and aggression in the immediate future.In response, America’s postwar leaders — thegreatest generation of American leaders since theFounding — changed America’s basic approachto the world. They decided that the United Stateswould take a leadership role in world affairs, withthe purpose of defeating the risk of aggression atan early stage before it rose to the level of generalwar. To that end, they developed the institutions ofa modern and heretofore unprecedented nationalsecurity architecture. They created alliances andpartnerships with like-minded nations, and theybuilt the tools of power — the elements of nationalinfluence — so as to create options for presidentsto prevent crises or defuse them when theyoccurred.The contrast between the old and new strategiescan be described this way. Before World WarTwo, the United States tended to ignore globalrisks outside the Western Hemisphere as long aspossible, confident in the belief that if the riskof attack became likely, the United States wouldhave the time to arm herself. But the impact of thetwo World Wars on Europe, and the increasingpotential destructiveness of armed conflict,5

showed that this strategy would no longer suffice.America had to shift from the goal of winning warswhen they were forced upon her, to preventing orat least minimizing war and aggression in the firstplace. That new strategic goal required a muchhigher level of global leadership supported byextensive alliances and more robust standing toolsof power than America had traditionally required.Critics have charged that America has, at times,tried to become a dictator to the world, or theworld’s policeman. Those charges are not true.America became a kind of first among equals in thedemocratic world, with a view towards anticipatingand defusing threats to its vital national interests atthe lowest feasible level, the object always being toprevent or contain aggression through deterrenceand cooperation with like-minded nations towardscommon goals.America had to shift from the goalof winning wars when they wereforced upon her, to preventingor at least minimizing war andaggression in the first place.Neither the strategy, nor the architecture necessaryto achieve it, were perfect, and they certainly werenot without cost. But they succeeded in their chiefoperational goal — the defeat of the Soviet Unionwithout a third general war. The credit for thatgoes to two generations of post-war leaders fromboth parties, culminating in the administrationof Ronald Reagan, who perfected the strategyand won the Cold War, as Margaret Thatcher saidafterwards, “without firing a shot.”More than two decades have passed, however,since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over most of thepast two decades since then America’s leadershave failed to adapt the strategy and our forcesto the needs of the modern era. There havebeen successes during that period, but the arc ofAmerica policy has been reactive and fitful.The Clinton and Bush Administrations can bestbe described as periods of strategic drift. Inthe Obama Administration, that drift becamea downward spiral and has now become afull-fledged strategic retreat. Put another way,Presidents Clinton and Bush never clarifiedwhy America’s “risk management” strategy wasimportant in the modern world, or what itentailed, whereas President Obama has effectivelyrepudiated both that strategy and the architecturethat was built to sustain it:• President Obama is, at the least, notcommitted to the idea of “Americanexceptionalism:” the belief that the UnitedStates, because of its strength, visibility, andhistorical commitment to freedom and humandignity, has a unique and distinct leadershiprole to play in the world. The suggestion fromwithin his Administration that the UnitedStates would “lead from behind” is tellingin this regard: “leading from behind” reallymeans, of course, not leading at all.• The Obama Administration has neglectedor abandoned old allies: as examples,the “special relationship” with Britain isgone, NATO is drifting, Eastern Europe isdisaffected, and Israel has been positivelyalienated from the United States.• The President either does not use vigorously,or does not use at all, the tools of “softpower.” The President had to be draggedinto imposing sanctions on Iran for itsnuclear program, has yet to use the full forceof sanctions against Russia, and has noteffectively used America’s moral authority tochallenge the human rights records of ouradversaries — despite the fact that, givenhis global popularity at the beginning of hisAdministration, he was in an unprecedentedposition to do so.• Worst of all is what is happening to America’smilitary — the tools of hard power. Militarystrength should not be the primary meansby which the United States executes itsforeign policy. But it is the indispensableelement that underpins the other tools. Withit, America has the margin of safety to try6

lesser options to protect itself. Without it, ourallies will not trust our promises, and ouradversaries will not believe our threats.At the end of the Cold War, American militarypower was at its apex relative to global risk.Since then, the risk has been growing and ourcapabilities have been declining. Up until threeyears ago, the decline was gradual; but the defensecuts which were imposed at that time — foolishlyand without regard for their impact on nationalsecurity — are rapidly turning America’s armedforces, once again, into a hollow force.It is no accident that, as we detail below, the threatsto America — to its homeland and its transcendentnational interests — are growing everywhere inthe world. They are growing because over the pastfive years specifically, the United States has stoppedtrying to control them, at least with the degree ofpurpose and power necessary for a foreign policyto succeed.Americans should be confident in approachingthe world. The United States has enormous latentstrength; it is fully within our capabilities toprotect ourselves, our allies, and our way of life.Moreover, most of the nations of the world are, ifnot potential allies, at least countries with whomwe can coexist and occasionally partner in discreteefforts where we share common objectives.It is no accident that, as we detailbelow, the threats to America — toits homeland and its transcendentnational interests — are growingeverywhere in the world.America believes in, and whose fanatical and evilvision for the future is their boot in everyone else’sface.Our adversaries will keep pressuring us, inpursuit of their parochial interests, unless anduntil America acts effectively to deter them. Ourenemies understand what we sometimes forget:that they cannot achieve the objectives to whichthey are fanatically devoted without destroyingthe influence of the United States. America canincrease the number of its friends, defeat itsenemies, and channel its adversaries into peacefulmodes of competition, but only if our leadersrelearn the lesson of history: that persistence,purpose, and power are the keys to peace withsecurity and honor.But the United States has, and always willhave, adversaries: nations whose interests areinconsistent with ours and who do not share ourrespect for peace and human rights. And we haveenemies as well — rogue states, and subnationalmovements — which utterly despise the values7

America’s Role in the WorldPolitical leaders often refer in broad terms todefending the United States, but they rarely definewhat they mean by that term. Unfortunately,no national security policy is possible withoutdetermining what that policy is designed toachieve. In other words, what is the package ofinterests and objectives that together give meaningto the term “American national security?”That means — and this is crucial torecognize — that the United Statesis no longer protected from directattack by its geographic isolation.Like all nations, America has vital nationalinterests. But unlike many other great powersthroughout history, the United States defines itsnational interests primarily in defensive terms. TheUnited States does not use its power to aggrandizethrough aggression the wealth or position of itspeople, but to allow them to exercise in peacethe rights which ought to be secure for all people,and which we are freely willing to grant others incommon with ourselves.In that sense, the vital interests of the United Statesare as follows:Defense of our homelandfrom attackThis most elemental of all interests has becomeincreasingly vulnerable since World War Two, andespecially in the last twenty years. The informationrevolution, which has done so much to advanceprosperity and human welfare, has also createdand spread the technology of “asymmetricweaponry” — weapons that have a destructiveimpact disproportionate to the wealth and power ittakes to create them.Biological and cyber technology are asymmetricin nature. While China and Russia are generallyconsidered to be the only potential adversarieswith the offensive cyber capabilities to cause usexistential harm, any subnational movement withthe knowledge possessed by a college biologymajor can create and disperse biological weapons.That means — and this is crucial to recognize —that the United States is no longer protected fromdirect attack by its geographic isolation. 1It would be useful for these purposes to think ofthe world less in terms of national boundaries,and more as a series of interlocking networks— financial, transportation, social — which areeasy to attack and hard to defend, and on whichAmericans depend far more than many of ourenemies. The attacks of September 11, 2001, werea vivid warning of this reality; they were existentialattacks on the United States, not just because of theimmediate and tragic casualties they caused, butbecause of the potential they posed to disrupt thesystems which support our way of life.As a practical matter, the increasing vulnerabilityof the homeland means that the United Statesmust be cognizant of threats that, before the ageof asymmetric warfare, it could properly haveviewed as remote and unrelated to its security.Fifty years ago, for example, America could haveignored from a risk perspective the increasingchaos in parts of North Africa, but today thatchaos — because it is exploited by terrorist groups,and because asymmetric weapons are so easy tobuild or buy — increases the risk of a potentiallydevastating attack on the homeland.Freedom of access to the “common”areas of the world: the seas, air,space, and cyberspaceThe United States is and always has been a tradingand traveling nation. Americans have a right tomove safely and freely, on equal terms with otherpeoples, in the common areas of the world. Thatright is vital to our economy and the safety ofour citizens and an integral aspect of America’sstanding as a sovereign nation. It is the reason why,for example, threats to close waterways like theStraits of Hormuz, or restrict air travel over theEast China Sea, or the militarization of space, aresuch serious matters for the United States.8

Preservation of stability, andacceptable political equilibriums,in key areas of the worldIn key regions of the world — chiefly Europe, Asia,and the Middle East — the United States has aninterest in preventing both unacceptable levelsof conflict and domination of those regions byaggressive powers. Chaos or serious aggression inthose areas could threaten either of the first twovital interests, or lead to a broader war from whichAmerica could not remain disengaged. Again, oneof the reasons that ISIS is so dangerous is that itthreatens to derange the equilibrium of the MiddleEast — to destabilize the region — and plunge itinto war.Protection of a norm-basedinternational orderThrough most of history, countries related toeach other based largely on relative power; thelarger and stronger nations insisted upon, and got,advantages proportionate to their strengths. Aspart of the national security architecture createdafter World War Two, the United States, withits allies, midwifed a system of internationalagreements and regimes based on the idea thatcountries would resolve disputes peacefully andaccording to agreed-upon norms rather than bycoercion.Though the system has operated imperfectly to saythe least, it comports with American values, hascreated an atmosphere conducive to Americanprosperity, and has minimized the frequency andrisks of aggression to the other interests of theUnited States. The system is today at risk, as bothChina and Russia are attempting to create newspheres of influence in their regions where theywould exercise hegemonic power.Two points bear repeating:First, all nations have vital interests. The differencebetween the United States, and other great powersthroughout history, is that America defines itsvital interests in a defensive and benign way. AllAmerica seeks is to live in peace, secure in itshomeland, enjoying rights common to all nations,in a world where — to the extent feasible —relations between nations are determined less bypower and coercion than by agreed-upon rules anda commitment to resolve disputes peacefully.Second, vital interests are by definitiontranscendent. If a vital interest is sufficientlythreatened, it must be defended, regardlessof the impulses, ideology, or preferences ofthe government in power at the time. We arewitnessing that truth in action today. If ever apresident wanted to play a hands-off role in theMiddle East, it is Barack Obama. Yet the success ofISIS in Syria and Iraq has so raised the level of riskto America’s homeland, to Americans travellingabroad, and to the equilibrium of the region, thateven President Obama has been forced to respond,despite all his impulses and statements to thecontrary. But the costs and risks of action now aremuch greater than they would have been had heacted sooner.In key regions of the world —chiefly Europe, Asia, and theMiddle East — the United Stateshas an interest in preventing bothunacceptable levels of conflict anddomination of those regions byaggressive powers.For the last five years, America’s politicalleadership, on both sides of the aisle, has beengoing through one of its episodes of torturedself-doubt. That episode has been characterizedby a debate over whether the United States shouldsomehow withdraw from the world.The debate is futile and dangerous, because thechoice it posits is false. The issue is not whetherAmerica has vital interests — it does — or whetherthreats to those interests will ever disappear —they won’t — or whether America will, at somepoint along the continuum of risk, defend itsinterests — it must and will. Nor is it whetherthe American people have become so wearyof world affairs that they will not support themeasures necessary to protect their own wayof life. As history has conclusively shown, and9

The Threats America FacesIdentifying America’s vital national interests anddefining its proper role in the world are but oneportion of an extended discussion. Against ournational interests are an increasing variety ofthreats that it should be the object of Americanpolicy to defeat or at least contain.In fact, in every region of the world, the threatsto America’s vital national security interests aredemonstrably growing, while, as we discuss later,America’s ability to respond to those threats issteadily declining.Iraq and SyriaIslamic State insurgents control much of easternand northern Syria, have routed Iraqi armydivisions, and have in recent months swept acrossmuch of western Iraq. Increasingly accomplishedfighters, they use mass executions, decapitations,even crucifixions, against both prisoners of warand civilians, to establish what they call theirIslamic Caliphate, which they are using as a basefor expansion across the region and well beyondthe Middle East. As Secretary of Defense Hagelrecently stated, over 100 of these fighters hold U.S.passports. 3 British intelligence estimates that atleast 500 British subjects alone are fighting todayin Syria. The CIA now reports that 2,000 fightersholding Western passports are fighting in theregion. 4 They will export their bloody crusade.Knowing this, both the British and Australianprime ministers have recently increased theirrespective countries’ terror threat level.So the threat level to America’s homeland, and toits allies, is increasing. But in addition, the successof ISIS and the ongoing Syrian civil war reflectsand enhances the growing Sunni/Shia conflict inthe region, has already created chaos in Iraq, andis threatening to destabilize Jordan and Lebanon.Alternatively, it could result in more pervasiveIranian influence, another potential setback for theUnited States.Had the United States simply maintained abase in Iraq after 2011 — in other words, hadPresident Obama actually listened to his militarycommanders, and his then-Secretary of Defense— our presence likely would have short-circuitedthe whole chain of events leading to the currentdisaster. 5 First, America would have been in abetter position to prevent then-Prime MinisterMaliki from the vindictive actions which alienatedSunnis and undermined democracy in Iraq.Second, though American troops would haveserved in a noncombat role, their very presencemight well have prevented Iran and Russia fromintervening in the Syrian civil war; had thecivil war not dragged on, ISIS would not haveestablished a foothold. Third, even if ISIS hadgained a foothold, the Iraqi military would, withAmerican support, have likely been able to sealoff the border and prevent ISIS from establishingits Caliphate in the region. Kurdistan and Jordanwould both be safe from aggression, if not fromthe flow of Syrian refugees.Now, the United States must attempt to defeat anactual Islamic State under circumstances that arehighly unfavorable, both politically and militarily.It’s a classic example — and one that ought tobe burned into the consciousness of America’sleaders — of how ignoring risk in the name ofnon-intervention can lead to a metastasized threatthat cannot be ignored and that must be addressedat much higher cost and with much greater risk offailure.IranNow, the United States mustattempt to defeat an actual IslamicState under circumstances that arehighly unfavorable, both politicallyand militarily.Iran’s nuclear program has progressed to the pointwhere it is only a few months short of a nuclearbreakout — when it would possess sufficientweapons-grade uranium to build one or morenuclear bombs. Tehran has assembled over 16,000centrifuges at its primary fuel enrichment facility11

to enrich uranium to weapons-grade purity — anindustrial capacity estimated to be sufficient toproduce a minimum of 7 and, potentially, asmany as 25 nuclear bombs per year. Based onInternational Atomic Energy Agency reporting,Iran intends to increase its enrichment capacityby adding an additional 10,000 centrifuges. Inaddition, Iran has nearly completed its plutoniumenrichment facility and has an extensive ballisticmissile program. Iran’s missiles can now reachEastern Europe, and within a few years, their longrangeballistic missile will be able to reach the eastcoast of the United States. 6While the Obama Administration made muchof its interim agreement with Tehran last winter,nearly a year has passed with no further progress.The implications for American and allied securityare profound. A nuclear Iran will be much moredangerous and will likely provoke a nuclearcascade in the region as other nations — nolonger trusting America’s leadership to deterIranian aggression — will seek nuclear weaponsthemselves. If there is a nuclear cascade in adestabilized Middle East, the likelihood of a launch,perhaps accidental or impulsive, will substantiallyincrease.AfghanistanThe fighting in Syria and Iraq may cause PresidentObama to rethink his plan not to leave anAmerican base in Afghanistan. If it doesn’t, thevacuum created by an American withdrawal islikely to result in ceding much of the country towarlords and Islamic insurgents, perhaps leadingto a collapse of central authority, as has happenedin Iraq. And a collapsed central authority, as ishappening in Iraq, would create the opportunityonce again for the re-establishment of sanctuariesand terrorist training camps.Nowhere else is the decline inAmerica’s military more dangerousthan in East Asia.Ukraine and Eastern EuropeThe Russian regime is attempting to re-establish asphere of influence along its western and southernborders. It invaded Georgia in 2008 and never left,has now assimilated much of Crimea, and mostrecently has supported the Ukrainian insurrectionand sent armored columns directly into Ukrainianterritory. For these reasons the second NationalDefense Panel, in its Report earlier this year, saidthat Europe can no longer be considered a netsecurity provider. 7Russia today is nowhere near as strong or asdangerous as the Soviet Union was. It may bepossible to deter future Russian adventurism witha strong sanctions regime backed up by NATOground and air forces based in Eastern Europe.But at present the United States Army — whichis scheduled to shrink even further — is so smallthat those brigades will not be available. If thisweakness, coupled with President Obama’s tepiduse of economic sanctions against Russia, leadsto further Russian aggression, it will continue apattern where failing to take moderate, low-riskdeterrence measures early on resulted in greaterrisk and few good options later for the UnitedStates and its allies.North AfricaThe Nigerian-based Boko Haram has graduatedfrom gangland-style drive-by shootings toincreasingly sophisticated attacks and masskidnappings in only three years. They now controlmuch of northeastern Nigeria and have routedgovernment forces on several occasions. Thegrowth of this group makes clear that in theabsence of a stable, capable government, vastregions — sanctuaries — will open up to militantgroups, whether they are jihadists or parochial intheir objectives.LibyaAfter supporting the overthrow of Qaddafi, theObama Administration has done nothing since toinfluence the outcome of fighting between warringmilitias and the government. Egypt and the UnitedArab Emirates, sufficiently alarmed by both thehands-off U.S. policy and the fighting itself, have12

undertaken their own limited airstrikes againstmilitia forces. As elsewhere, the failure to interveneor assist others further opens the door to thecreation of ungoverned regions.The first lesson from Afghanistan is thatsanctuaries afford terrorist groups the opportunityto establish training camps, from which they willexport their crusade. Boko Haram and the IslamicState in Iraq and Syria are only the latest examplesof the threats such groups pose.North KoreaNorth Korea has become increasingly provocativeand unstable under Kim Jong Un. The chances aregrowing that the regime will collapse or — perhapsin response to internal chaos — launch an attackagainst the South. In either case, the fact thatNorth Korea has nuclear weapons means that theUnited States would have to deploy, in concert withSouth Korea, substantial ground, air, and maritimeforces. The Chinese would likely enter at the sametime from the North. It is very difficult to predictwhat the environment will be, but there will almostcertainly be hundreds of thousands of refugeesand some level of fighting, at least against guerillaelements. The National Defense Panel called thiscontingency “plausible” and said that it would beone of the “most stressing” for America’s military. 8ChinaIn terms of traditional military power, the greatestchallenge facing the United States is China. For thepast nearly twenty years, China has engaged in amassive military buildup:• China is rapidly building a modern capableNavy, which by 2020 will be substantiallylarger than the United States Navy. Chinacan concentrate its forces in the WesternPacific; that fact, and its logistical advantages,means that China would have a substantialnumerical advantage over the United Statesin the event of a confrontation. In addition,virtually every one of its vessels is armedwith long-range, advanced, anti-ship cruisemissiles and air-defense missiles. 9• China is substantially increasing the numberof its nuclear warheads capable of strikingthe U.S. homeland. 10• China already has one of the world’slargest inventories of conventionally armedballistic missiles as well as large numbersof long-range ground-, air-, and sea-basedcruise missiles. They are expanding thatinventory rapidly and already have theability to threaten U.S. bases and operatingareas throughout the region including U.Sinstallations on Guam. 11• China has almost 2,000 capable fighteraircraft. They are investing heavily in stealthtechnology and will likely introduce two newfifth-generation fighters to their inventory by2020. 12• They are significantly upgrading theirintelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissancesystems and improving their amphibiouscapabilities. 13• They have sophisticated cyber capabilitiesthat, according to the Defense Science Board,can inflict existential damage on America’scritical infrastructure. 14• China is rapidly developing anti-satellitecapabilities that will be able to destroy orseverely disrupt America’s space assets,both military and civilian, in every orbitalregime. 15The Chinese regime, fornationalistic, political, andeconomic reasons, is seeking asphere of influence — a kind ofhegemony — in the East andSouth China Seas, and wantsthe option of using coercion toachieve their ends.The primary target of China’s military buildupis the United States. The Chinese regime, fornationalistic, political, and economic reasons,is seeking a sphere of influence — a kind ofhegemony — in the East and South China Seas,and wants the option of using coercion to achievetheir ends. For that reason, they are purposefully13

and relentlessly developing the capabilities toexclude American forces from the region.It would be wrong to view China as necessarilyan enemy of the United States. China is a risingpower with a proud history; it is natural that theChinese would seek to dominate their regionof the world. But it is increasingly clear that theform that dominance would take, and the meansby which the Chinese will use to achieve it, areunacceptable to the United States and its allies.America is bound by treaty to defend Japan andthe Philippines, and has guaranteed de factothe territorial integrity of Taiwan. As we haveexplained above, the United States has a vitalinterest in freedom of trade and travel for allnations in the East and South China Seas, and inthe peaceful resolution of disputes among nationsaccording to international norms.Certainly, the Chinese understand that theirnational ambitions are bringing them into conflictwith the United States; that is precisely why theyare building up their power — and doing so atsuch a rapid pace.The Obama Administration has been quicker torecognize the risk in Asia than in the Middle East.The Administration’s “rebalance” initiative is atleast the shell of a good policy; it includes buildingAmerica’s military presence and strengthening ourpartnerships in the Western Pacific. 16But the initiative is failing for lack of power.Nowhere else is the decline in America’s militarymore dangerous than in East Asia. The UnitedStates simply does not have the forces to shift intothe region, and our potential allies and partnersare reluctant to align themselves given America’sgrowing weakness. The balance of power in EastAsia is changing; China will be, if it is not already,dominant in the region. If that happens, the“rebalance” policy may prove very dangerous — iteffectively makes the United States the obstacleto China’s ambitions without effectively deterringthem, thereby creating an environment of risingtension and possible conflict.14

Our Military — The Tools of Hard PowerDuring the post-Vietnam era, many in theUnited States questioned the efficacy, and eventhe legitimacy, of American global leadershipand power. Jimmy Carter represented that pointof view in his presidency and in his defensepolicy. He reduced the size and strength ofAmerica’s armed forces, and created shortfalls inmodernization and training, all at a time when theservices were struggling to convert to a volunteerforce.By the end of the Carter Administration, ourmilitary had become “hollow.” Like a house with afresh coat of paint, but with no working plumbingor wiring, the armed forces looked good to thecasual observer but were not adequately preparedto perform their missions. Training, recruitment,retention, and morale had suffered for years. Asmall turning point came following the Sovietinvasion of Afghanistan. President Carter realizedthat American power had declined too far, andrecommended an increased defense budget duringhis final year in office.Then in 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president.Of all America’s presidents during the Cold Waryears, Reagan was the biggest believer in theprinciple of peace through strength. He pushedthrough double-digit increases in the defensebudget during his first two years in office, andsubstantial increases in the years following.The effect on America’s global position was electric.The Pentagon was able to increase the size ofthe force, and recapitalize and modernize all ofthe services with information-age technologies.President Reagan also galvanized the tools of “softpower,” strengthening the “special relationship”with Great Britain, forming a de facto alliancewith democracy movements in Eastern Europe,and using America’s moral authority to challengethe Soviet Union. Eventually, the Soviet Uniondissolved; and it was the Reagan-era militarythat achieved victory in Operation Desert Storm.What followed was an unprecedented expansionin freedom and democracy around the world, notjust in the former Soviet Union, but also in EasternEurope, South Korea, and Taiwan.But as memories of the Cold War faded, and effortsto reallocate the “peace dividend” brought withthem shifting political priorities, America’s militarybegan once again to decline.Following the end of the Cold War, the BushAdministration determined that a force reductionof approximately 25 percent from the Reaganbuild-up was a prudent step. The Bush Base Forceplan called for 12 active-duty Army divisions,down from 18 divisions under Reagan. The Navywould ramp down from Secretary Lehman’s551-ship fleet and 15 carriers to 451 ships and 12carriers. The Marine Corps would retain threeactive-duty divisions, albeit with personnelreductions, and the Air Force would drop from 28active and reserve component fighter wings to 20by 2000. 17Of all America’s presidents duringthe Cold War years, Reagan wasthe biggest believer in the principleof peace through strength.Determined to cut further, the incoming ClintonAdministration in 1993 undertook what becameknown as the Bottom-Up Review (BUR), whichcalled for a further force reduction of ten percentbelow the Bush Base Force. The active-duty Army,for example, was reduced to ten divisions and495,000 personnel, and was then thinned furtherover the decade by another 10,000 personnel,yielding not a hollow force, but one that wasdecidedly undermanned. The Clinton reviewrecommended a fleet of 346 ships, which shrankover the decade, eventually dropping to 316 shipsby 2000. 18Then modernization budgets were cut aswell, leading to what became known as the“procurement holiday.” For example, helicopterprocurement was reduced by 90 percent during the15

1990s in contrast to the 1980s. Ship procurementwas reduced by two-thirds. Air Force fighterprocurement was reduced by about eighty percent.By the late 1990s, the modernization accountsalone were underfunded by $20 billion annually. 19Moreover, the operational tempo of the force —the number and duration of overseas deployments— increased dramatically in the 1990s. The ethnic,regional, and sectarian rivalries suppressed duringthe Cold War rose to the surface. The ClintonAdministration used the military to deal with theconsequences, and so the missions of the armedforces increased substantially even as its sizedeclined and its equipment aged. 20This combination of a smaller force operating ata higher tempo using older equipment inevitablydegraded readiness. In 1998, General HughShelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,compared the decline in our military’s readiness toa plane “in a nose dive that might cause irreparabledamage to the great force we have created, a nosedive that will take years to pull out of." 21By the time Barack Obama tookoffice — after almost twenty years of agrowing mismatch between missionsand resources — the military was in ahighly fragile condition.The incoming Bush Administration in 2001,understanding these stresses, pledged tomodernize the armed forces consistent withwhat was called the Revolution in MilitaryAffairs. Advocates of transformation, as it wassometimes called, subscribed to the belief thatsince the United States did not and would notface any would-be aggressor capable of posing anexistential threat to the U.S. for the next decade, itwould be possible to invest heavily in leap-aheadtechnologies, yielding a smaller, leaner, and morelethal force.The planners were wrong again. An existentialattack on the United States occurred on September11, 2001. That halted the Bush plan to implement itshigh-tech modernization programs with leap-aheadtechnologies. America found itself in exactly thekind of wars its best planners said would not occur:conflicts requiring large numbers of boots on theground for long periods of time. Defense budgetsincreased substantially, but not to rebuild themilitary; the money was eaten up by war costs, thegreater maintenance needs of an aging inventory,higher operating costs, and higher personnel costs.By the time Barack Obama took office — afteralmost twenty years of a growing mismatchbetween missions and resources — the militarywas in a highly fragile condition. The Navy hadfewer ships than at any time since before WorldWar One; the Air Force inventory was smaller, andolder, than at any time since the inception of theservice. 22 And while the size of the Army and theMarine Corps was increased in 2007 to supportthe surge in western Iraq, over most of the warboth services lacked the personnel to conductaggressive combat operations in both Iraq andAfghanistan. This in large part explains why somany units served multiple tours of duty in Iraqand Afghanistan. In addition to the human costof the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the extent ofwhich we do not yet fully understand, nearly allof the equipment used in theater must be rebuilt,replaced, or given or sold to regional allies to avoidthe high cost of shipping it back to the U.S.With military action winding down in Iraq anderoding support for military spending, SecretaryGates identified $400 billion in cost reductionsbeginning in 2009 and an additional $78 billionif realized, beginning in fiscal year 2012. 23 As apractical matter, these reductions meant cancellingmany of the remaining modernization programs,including the C-17 transport and the F-22 fighterprograms. Both terminations will have a negativeimpact on military readiness and capabilities foryears to come. It’s worth briefly discussing both toshow how decisions made to save money in theshort term can both cost more, and undermineAmerican security, in the intermediate and longerterm.Today, the C-17 and the older C-5 Galaxy, whichfirst flew in the mid-1960s, comprise America’sstrategic airlift fleet. Strategic lift is essential to16

the capabilities of the military, especially since theUnited States has closed so many bases abroad.A smaller force, largely based in the UnitedStates, must have adequate lift to carry out itsglobal missions. Yet the C-5 has a long-standingoperational readiness rate — the percentage oftimes a piece of equipment is mission capablewhen needed — of just over 50 percent. 24 Soinstead of building additional C-17s, our aircrewswill fly C-5s for decades longer, with much highermaintenance costs than new aircraft wouldexperience.The F-22 air-superiority fighter, whilecontroversial due to its development and per-unitcosts, represents the cutting edge of aerospacetechnology. Its termination will have a potentiallydevastating impact on the force and on the defenseindustrial base. With the program terminated,F-22 production ended at 187 aircraft, an entirelybudget-driven number unsupported by anyobjective analysis of our fighter requirements. Atthe same time, both China and Russia are heavilyinvesting in advanced technology fighters. 25 It willtake the United States many years to develop a newaircraft and begin production.In 2009, while Secretary Gates was engaged inhis initial round of cuts, Congress created aNational Defense Panel to review the plans ofthe Department of Defense and the conditionof the military. The Panel was chaired by formerSecretary of Defense Bill Perry and formerNational Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. It had20 members appointed on a bipartisan basis. ThePanel reviewed the history related above andissued a unanimous report in the spring of 2010in which it recommended substantial additionalfunding for the military, primarily to increase thesize of the Navy and recapitalize the inventories ofall of the services.The Panel thought that the fragile condition ofthe military at the time warranted an explicit andhighly unusual warning:The issues raised in the body of this Reportare sufficiently serious that we believe anexplicit warning is appropriate. The aging ofthe inventories and equipment used by theservices, the decline in the size of the Navy,escalating personnel entitlements, overheadand procurement costs, and the growing17

stress on the force means that a train wreck iscoming in the areas of personnel, acquisitionand force structure. 26In the spring of 2011, Secretary Gates respondedto the Panel’s warning and recommendations byoffering, on behalf of the administration, a tenyearproposed budget with modest increases inAll of this happened, and threeyears later is still happening, whilethe threats to the United States aregrowing everywhere, and whileAmericans are still fighting and dyingon the field of battle in Afghanistan.the then-current budget baseline. The proposedincreases were not as large as the Perry/HadleyPanel had recommended, but they would havepermitted the Department to begin increasing thesize of the Navy and modernizing the inventoriesof the services. 27What happened thereafter is unprecedented.Within two months after Secretary Gates made hisrecommendations, President Obama announcedhis intention to reduce the Gates-proposed budget— his own administration’s defense budget — byapproximately $40 billion per year. The presidentessentially junked his own defense budget in aspeech and pulled a new number for defensespending out of thin air; there was no analysis ofthe impact of the new funding levels on the armedforces or American national security. 28The president’s proposal was codified in the 2011Budget Control Act. That was followed by thesequestration law, which had the effect of cuttinganother $500 billion from the defense budget overthe next ten years. 29In the course of less than one year, the analyticalprocess by which the Department of Defensehad established its funding priorities, proposedby a highly respected secretary of defense, wasjettisoned in favor of an ad hoc and entirelypolitically driven budget reduction process. Thenet result is that planned defense spending hasbeen reduced by approximately $1 trillion over thenext decade — again, all without the benefit of anyanalysis or threat assessment.All of this happened, and three years later is stillhappening, while the threats to the United Statesare growing everywhere, and while Americansare still fighting and dying on the field of battle inAfghanistan.Here are just a few of the devastating consequencesfor America’s national security:1. The Navy will shrink to between 240-260ships. 30 At that size America will not havea global Navy, and will be almost 100 shipssmaller than the Chinese navy.2. The Army will shrink to about 420,000troops or to pre-World War Two levels. 31 Inaddition, most of the Army will not conductfield training in units above the companylevel.3. The Air Force will shrink dramatically,and its inventory will continue to age. Forexample, the KC-135 tanker, which throughmidair refueling greatly extends the rangeand time on station of our Air Force andNavy aircraft, first joined the fleet in thesecond Eisenhower Administration. Undercurrent procurement plans, many KC-135s,already over 50 years old, will continueflying into the 2030s, when they will be over70 years old. 32 No modern air force retainssuch a critical portion of its inventory forseven decades. It’s not an isolated example.Our B-52 bombers, already 50 years old, willremain in the fleet at least into the 2020s.4. The Marines are also suffering. Almost twothirdsof non-deployed units have shortfallsin equipment and have lost readiness toperform even core missions. More than athird of non-deployed units are short ofpersonnel who were reassigned to unitsscheduled to deploy. 3318

Last year, Congress authorized a second NationalDefense Panel and charged it with reviewing thecurrent condition of the force and the futureplans of the Pentagon. That Panel was co-chairedby former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry andformer Centcom Commander General JohnAbizaid. In total, it was comprised of ten membersappointed on a bipartisan basis. The Panel issued aunanimous Report in August of this year. 34The Report was in form and fact a rebuke of thegovernment’s defense policy, especially over thelast three years. We agree with the warning that thePanel issued:The upshot is that twenty years ago the armedforces were reduced to a size that was insufficientto deal even with the relatively peacefulenvironment that prevailed in the immediateaftermath of the Cold War. Over the next 15 years,and despite the attacks of 9-11 and the emergenceof new and serious threats in North Korea, theWestern Pacific, Eastern Europe, and the MiddleEast, the military was further reduced and thegovernment failed to recapitalize its inventorieswith modern equipment. Three years ago, afteralmost a decade of hard fighting in Iraq andAfghanistan, Secretary Gates proposed a ten-yeardefense budget which would have allowed thearmed forces to begin rebuilding their strength.At that point the government cut a trillion dollarsfrom those proposed budgets, without any analysiswhatsoever of the impact on national security.That impact has been devastating, and will getmuch worse in the future, absent a fundamentalchange in the direction of defense budgeting andpolicies.As our report shows, the defense budgetcuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of2011, coupled with the additional cuts andconstraints on defense management underthe law’s sequestration provisions whichcommenced in March 2013, have createdsignificant investment shortfalls in militaryreadiness and both present and futurecapabilities. Unless reversed, these shortfallswill lead to greater risk to our forces, postureand security in the near future. In fact, andthis bears emphasis — we believe that unlessrecommendations of the kind we make inthe Report are adopted, the Armed Forces ofthe United States will in the near future be athigh risk of not being able to accomplish theNational Defense Strategy. 35That impact has beendevastating, and will getmuch worse in the future,absent a fundamental changein the direction of defensebudgeting and policies.19

The Path ForwardIn the last five years, Congress created twoNational Defense Panels to review the conditionof the armed forces. Both Panels were bipartisan,and both Panel reports were unanimous. The firstReport, in 2010, warned that the military was in afragile condition and recommended a number ofsteps to strengthen it, including increasing the sizeof the Navy and investing substantial additionalfunding in the modernization programs of theservices. The President and Congress not onlyignored that warning, they went in the oppositedirection, following the irresponsible courseoutlined above that has brought our armed forcesto the brink of disaster.Our servicemen and women arethe finest in the world. But if theydo not have the training theyneed, or if their equipment is notmaintained, it means that theyare at risk either of failing in theirmissions or succeeding only aftertaking unnecessary casualties.The second Panel Report, issued in August,documented the declining condition of themilitary and outlined a path forward to restoreAmerica’s military power. We believe that theadmonitions of this second Panel, particularlyits most important recommendations, should bequickly adopted:1. The actions of the last three years haveseriously degraded the “current readiness”of the force — the day-to-day ability of thearmed forces to carry out their missions.This more than anything else shows theirresponsibility of recent policy. The lastthing our military should have to sacrificeis readiness. Our servicemen and womenare the finest in the world. But if they donot have the training they need, or if theirequipment is not maintained, it meansthat they are at risk either of failing in theirmissions or succeeding only after takingunnecessary casualties.No American serviceman or woman shouldbe put at such unnecessary risk. The Presidentshould direct the Pentagon to prepare a list ofsteps which must be taken to restore currentreadiness. Those steps should be funded onan emergency basis. The longer this action ispostponed, the greater will be the cost whenit is finally taken. Readiness is much morecostly to recover than to maintain.2. Three years ago, the current budget baselinewas imposed on the Department of Defensewith no analysis of the relationship betweenthe amount of funding allowed and theactual needs of the armed forces. That is theopposite of the traditional, common-senseprocess of defense planning, according towhich the Department analyzes threats,determines the capabilities it believesnecessary to deter those threats, and thenbudgets as it believes necessary to deterthose threats.Of course, neither the President norCongress should rubber stamp thePentagon’s plans, and cost must always bea consideration. But budgets should not bethe primary driver where national securityis concerned, and funding levels shouldcertainly not be imposed without regardto their impact on the capabilities neededto defend the United States and her vitalnational interests.The Department of Defense should bedirected to conduct a real review of itsneeds going forward. As it does so, therising power of China should be a priorityconsideration. Since China is becominga peer military competitor of the UnitedStates, it should be considered the “pacingthreat” that drives defense planning.20

The primary objective of America’s militaryis to deter aggression, and if required to fight,to defeat our enemies. For that reason, theDepartment should plan for a force that wouldbe dominant in any plausible military scenario.America should never deliberately plan to havejust enough strength to win. The way to preventwar is to make clear to any potential adversarythat if they commit aggression against Americaor her vital national interests, they will losedecisively.Pending the outcome of that review, thegovernment should plan on returning to atleast the baseline budget proposed by then-Secretary Gates in 2011. That was the lasttime the Department was allowed to engagein real planning, and since then the globalthreat environment has gotten much worsethan the Department could have anticipatedat the time. Among other things, China hasincreased its coercive actions against itsneighbors, the threat level in Eastern Europehas gone up, and the United States has beguna war against ISIS insurgents. In addition, thereadiness and preparedness of the force hasdeclined considerably since the Gates budgetswere proposed and in a way that he could nothave contemplated when he proposed them. Itis highly unlikely that any reasonable reviewcould conclude that less funding is needed thanSecretary Gates thought necessary three yearsago. By any standard, funding defense at theGates baseline, and without a tax increase, isfully affordable, given the following:• The first priority of the federal governmentis the nation’s defense, not only as a matterof prudence but constitutionally. In fact,defending the country is the only powerwhich the Constitution requires thefederal government to exercise. ArticleFour, Section 2 of the Constitution statesthat the “United States shall protectthem (the States) from invasion….” Thefirst constitutional responsibility of thegovernment is always affordable, becauseit should be funded before anything else.• The current baseline for defense amountsto only 2.9% of the nation’s GDP — thelowest percentage of the nation’s wealthspent on defense since World War II.Even the Gates baseline budget wouldconstitute only 3.5% of GDP — still ahistorically low figure. 36 Most Americanswould be shocked to learn that at a timewhen the government is consumingmore of the nation’s total wealth thanever before during peacetime, it is usinga smaller percentage of that wealth todefend the country than at any time in thelast 70 years.The first priority of the federalgovernment is the nation’sdefense, not only as a matter ofprudence but constitutionally.• As the National Defense Panel noted, italways costs more to rebuild militaryreadiness than it would have cost tosustain it in the first place. For example,the Army is now shedding trainedpersonnel to meet the artificially lowbudget constraints under which itis operating. When the governmenteventually concedes, as it must, that forcestructure is being cut too much, the shortterm savings produced by the defense cutswill evaporate; the Pentagon spends moreto recruit and retrain new personnel thanit would have spent retaining the people ithad.• In 2009, the government spent $830billion — not including debt servicecosts — on the “stimulus” bill. 37 In 2010,it passed Obamacare, which by 2024 willspend $235 billion per year on its coverageexpansions alone. 38 If the governmentcould afford these programs, it canafford the funding which is so manifestlynecessary to protect the nation’s security.• The federal government has grown solarge that it tries to do everything. Thisresults in our exploding national debt, and21

in failure to do those things which areabsolutely necessary. We must abandonany sense of moral equivalence whenit comes to our budget priorities. Thesimple fact is that military preparednessand defending our nation must be the toppriorities of our federal government. If wefail to defend ourselves, all else is indeedlost. So the question is not — how muchcan we afford when it comes to ensuringour security and defending America?The question must be, how much will itrequire for us to do so.• The United States is a wealthy nationwith interests around the world onwhich its economy and way of lifedepend. Moreover, given the availabilityof asymmetric weaponry, Americansare now more vulnerable to a direct anddevastating attack on their homeland —their families and communities — thanat any time in recent history. As isexplained in this paper, global risk isaccumulating in part because America istoo weak to effectively reduce it. If thatrisk should continue accumulating, it willresult in unnecessary conflict, or reducedeconomic growth, and the costs of eitherwould dwarf any savings the defense cutswill achieve. In that sense, the defensecuts are self-defeating; they will make itimpossible to sustain the kind of stabilityon which American prosperity depends,and without prosperity we cannot hopeto solve the budget challenges facing thegovernment.For that reason, the governmentshould adopt a guidelinefor defense budgeting atapproximately 4% of GDP.The most recent defense cuts are the worstexample of a trend regarding defensefunding that should be corrected. In timeswhen the world is relatively peaceful, thegovernment tends to raid the defensebudget so that it can spend more onother programs; then when global riskaccumulates, the government rushes tobuild up the military in response. The upand down nature of defense budgeting isnot only dangerous but inefficient; it makesplanning difficult and usually costs morethan if a consistent funding level had beenmaintained in the first place.For that reason, the government shouldadopt a guideline for defense budgetingat approximately 4% of GDP. The UnitedStates has urged the same principle onits NATO partners — that they peg theirdefense spending to a percentage of theirGDP — and for the same reason: to keepthose countries from reducing their defensebudgets in the mistaken belief that the endof the Cold War meant the end of threatsto which NATO should be capable ofresponding.Such a guideline would not mean themilitary should always be funded at 4% ofGDP regardless of need; the proper wayto budget is to analyze threats, determinethe capabilities that are needed to deteror defeat those threats, and then budgetaccordingly. But if Department of Defense(DOD) funding drops consistently below 4%of GDP, it should be a taken as a warningthat another cycle of inefficient, up anddown budgeting is impending. How manytimes does our government have to makethe same mistakes before it learns fromthem?3. The Department of Defense needs toredouble its efforts to eliminate waste, bothto provide extra funding and to increaseefficiency. One promising area is reductionof the number of civilian personnel andcontractors. As the National Defense Panelnoted, the number of civilian employees inthe DOD grew by 15% from 2001 to 2012,while the number of active duty militarypersonnel grew by only 3.4%. The number ofcivilian contractors in the Department grewto 670,000 in the same period. 3922

But the area where reform is most neededis acquisition. The DOD has been trying toreform how our nation procures its ships,planes and tanks for 60 years. Over 200studies and reports have been written onacquisition reform. Yet the services continueto experience huge cost overruns in crucialprograms. Two recent examples:• The Army estimated that the FutureCombat Systems (FCS) program wouldcost $4 billion a year for three brigadesets of FCS equipment per year. The totalprogram cost grew to an estimated $160.9billion for 14 brigade sets by 2008. 40 Ayear later the program was cancelled. Noequipment had been produced nor fielded.• The Navy’s new DDG-1000 destroyer wassupposed to cost $1 billion per ship. Theservice planned to procure 32 of them, butwhen the per-ship cost grew to $4.3 billion,the program was capped at three ships. 41Rebuilding the military will require that newweapons programs stay on schedule and withinbudget. This point is nonnegotiable.The following steps should be taken:First, the requirements process — the processby which each service determines the need andjustification for new weapons and other equipment— should be streamlined. Today, over 100 meetingsare required within the Pentagon bureaucracybefore a major acquisition program can progressto the next milestone or stage in the developmentprocess. Program managers must be focused ontheir programs, not on briefing literally hundredsof Pentagon officials.The chain of command within the acquisitionprocess should be simplified and consolidated,with major programs overseen by the serviceSecretaries and Chiefs of Staff of each service,reporting to the Undersecretary for Acquisition,Logistics, and Technology, all ultimatelyresponsible to the Secretary of Defense. Atpresent, there are countless officials and agenciesthat possess, in effect, a veto authority over theprogress of a major weapon development program.Authority and responsibility must be vested withthe program manager and the immediate chain ofcommand, not dissipated across the Pentagon’s vastbureaucracy.23

As the first National Defense Panel found in 2010,The Panel believes that the fundamentalreason for the continued underperformancein acquisition activities is fragmentation ofauthority and accountability for performance,or lack of clarity regarding such authorityand accountability. Fragmented authorityand accountability exist at all levels ofthe process, including identifying needs,defining alternative solutions to meeting theneed, choosing and resourcing the solution,and delivering the defined capability withdiscipline on the agreed schedule and withinthe agreed cost. In the current system, thecomplex set of processes and authoritiesso diffuses the accountability for definingexecutable programs intended to providethe needed increment of capability thatneither objective is achievable — either rapidresponse to the demands of today’s wars ormeeting tomorrow’s challenges. 42Second, the Department should commit todesigning and procuring new programs in nomore than a five to seven year window, and thenew inventory should be engineered so that,after it is deployed, it can be upgraded with newtechnologies as they are developed. Shorteningthe design/build cycle will minimize changes inrequirements, reduce delays, and control costs.The primary need now is for new equipmentwith reasonable capability in the field as soon aspossible. Technology older than seven years islikely to be obsolete upon delivery anyway.This kind of “spiral development” was commonduring the Reagan buildup of the 1980s. As anexample, the F-16 fighter aircraft was designedin the mid-1970s and first deployed in 1980. Theaircraft was continually upgraded over time andwill be operationally relevant for another decade.The Department has procured over 4,000 F-16s.In contrast, it took 14 years to design the F-22,the technology was obsolete by the time it wasdeployed, and the cost overruns were a factor in itscancellation after only 187 were procured.Finally, programs should be competed wheneverpossible, not just in the design phase but also inproduction. The Department should make everyeffort to ensure that key parts of key programsare dual sourced, both to hold down costs and toensure the vitality of the defense industrial base.The Department should make much greater useof multi-year procurement contracts. Membersof Congress will resist that, because it diminishestheir year-to-year control over programs, butbuying in volume over time, when a programhas a stable design, will produce savings for theDepartment and the American taxpayer.The Department should make every effort to ensure that key parts of keyprograms are dual sourced, both to hold down costs and to ensure thevitality of the defense industrial base.24

ConclusionThe United States maintains a robust militaryas part of a national security architecture bywhich, for the past 60 years, the United Stateshas defended its homeland and interests, andin the process brought a significant measure ofstability and freedom to a world which alwayshas and always will contain enemies of both. It isno accident that the threats to America are nowgrowing. They are growing because the ObamaAdministration has repudiated all the operatingprinciples of an effective global strategy, by“leading from behind,” abandoning our long-timeallies, failing to effectively use the tools of “softpower,” and cutting the size and capabilities of ourarmed forces.This paper has focused on military readinessnot because the armed forces are or should bethe primary means by which America dealswith the world, but because it is their strengththat gives efficacy to the other tools at America’sdisposal. The purpose of military power is not inthe first instance to defeat aggressors, but to deterthem while the United States and her allies usediplomatic and economic tools, and the powerof their ideals, to protect themselves without war.For that reason, the stronger America is, the lesslikely it is that America will have to fight, or eventhreaten to use military force.That is the lesson of history. As Ronald Reagan wasfond of saying, “of the four wars that occurred inmy lifetime, none happened because America wastoo strong.” During his administration, the UnitedStates reached the apex of its strength, but actuallydeployed its military less than at any time before orsince in the last 60 years. 43At a fundamental level, defense policy is foreignpolicy. The best thing America could do now toreduce the level of global risk — the safest andthe surest thing — would be to move decisivelyto rebuild the tools of power. Even the signal thatAmerica was prepared to do so would give pause toour enemies and adversaries and rally the forces offreedom around the world.Nations can afford to walk softly when they carry abig stick."...of the four wars that occurredin my lifetime, none happenedbecause America was too strong."— Ronald Reagan25

Endnotes1. The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass DestructionProliferation and Terrorism, otherwise known as the Graham-TalentWMD Commission, found that an individual with the scientificknowledge of an undergraduate biology major could create andweaponize a biological weapon using equipment readily available onthe internet for about $10,000. Former Senator Talent served as Vice-Chairman of the Commission.2. William J. Perry and Stephen J. Hadley et al., “The QDR in Perspective:Meeting America’s National Security Needs in the 21st Century, FinalReport of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, 2010,” p.28 (corrected advance copy) ( Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, DoD News, September3, 2014, “Hagel: Clear Mission to Degrade, Destroy ISIL Capability,”( Agence France Presse, “CIA says number of Islamic State fighters inIraq and Syria has swelled to between 20,000 and 31,500,” September12, 2014 ( Sam Frizell, “Former Defense Secretary: U.S. Should Have Kept Troopsin Iraq,” Time September 20, 2014 ( International Atomic Energy Agency, “Implementation of the NPTSafeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Councilresolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” report by the DirectorGeneral, August 28, 2013, Report GOV/2013/40, pp. 4, 6 in particular( also the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control’s report “Iran’sNuclear Timetable,” September 10, 2014 ( Perry and Hadley et al., “The QDR in Perspective,” p. 7.8. William J. Perry and John Abizaid et al., “Ensuring a Strong U.S.Defense for the Future, The National Defense Panel Review of the 2014Quadrennial Defense Review, 2014,” p. 17 (advance copy) ( U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 2013 AnnualReport to Congress, November 20, 2013, pp. 213-220 ( “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republicof China, 2014,” pp. 7-9. China will deploy its JIN-class nuclear ballisticmissile submarine (SSBN) with the nuclear-armed JL-2 ICBM for thefirst time in 2014. China is expected to commence its own sea-basednuclear deterrent patrols in 2014, is expected to deploy 5 such JIN-classSSBNs, then transition to a newer Type 096 SSBN. The JL-2 is believedto have a range of 7,400 km, making it capable of striking the UnitedStates from the Western Pacific ( “Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republicof China, 2014.” pp. 5, 7.12. “Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republicof China, 2014.” pp. 9, 31, 36.13. The PLA AF has approximately 1,900 fighter aircraft. “The PLA AF ispursuing modernization on an unprecedented scale,” and “...[will] likelybecome a 4th-generational [air] force within the next several years,” in“Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic ofChina, 2014.” pp. 9-10, 36, 67, 78.14. “Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republicof China, 2014,” pp. 9, 65 regarding ISR programs.15. “Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat, January2013,” Defense Science Board, pp. 1-6 ( The Obama Administration’s rebalancing of forces to the Pacific isinadequate. For example, the Chief of Naval Operation’s plan through2020 calls for the assignment of one to two additional ships to thePacific region each year through 2020, increasing the size of the U.S.fleet from 51 vessels to about 65. In contrast, China’s PLA Navy isincreasing the size of its fleet by approximately 8-10 vessels each year.“Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republicof China, 2014,” pp. 30-31 regarding China's anti-satellite capabilities.See also “China's Military Space Strategy,” Ashley J. Tellis, Survival,Autumn 2007, pp. 41-72.17. Lorna S. Jaffa, “The Development of the Base Force, 1989-1992,” JointHistory Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July1993 ( Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, “Report on the Bottom-UpReview,” September 1993, p. 28, Figure 7 ( Congressional Budget Office, “Budgeting for Defense: MaintainingToday’s Forces,” September 2000, p. 20, Table 4 ( “America's Armed Forces: A Perspective,” Gen. John M. Shalikashvili,USA, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a speech to the Councilon Foreign Relations, Nov 7, 1996, “...we would have to increaseprocurement spending by approximately $15 to $20 billion annually.”See also CBO, “Budgeting for Defense: Maintaining Today's Forces,”September 2000, p. xii, which states that procurement funding wasshort by $37 billion annually.21. General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, intestimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, September29, 1998.22. General Mark A. Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, “Fiscal Year2015 Air Force Posture Statement,” Senate Armed Services Committeehearing on “Posture of the Department of the Air Force,” April 10, 2014,“…Since 1990, the aircraft inventory has declined from 9,000 to 5,400aircraft, and the average age has increased from 17 to 27 years.” ( Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, “Defense Budget RecommendationStatement,” April 6, 2009, ( See also Secretary of Defense Robert Gates,“Eisenhower Library Speech,” May 8, 2010 (; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates,“Statement on Department Efficiencies Initiative,” August 9, 2010 ( and Secretaryof Defense Robert Gates, “Statement on Department Budget andEfficiencies,” January 6, 2011 ( Government Accountability Office, “Defense Acquisitions: StrategicAirlift Gap Has Been Addressed, But Tactical Airlift Plans AreEvolving as Key Issues Have Not Been Resolved,” GAO-NSIAD-10-67,November 12, 2009, p. 27, Figure 2 states that the C-5 fleet’s peacetimemission capable rate averaged 52 percent over the previous severalyears. Several previous GAO reports dating to the mid-1990s depict thepeacetime C-5 mission capable rate hovering just above and below 60percent. ( “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic ofChina, 2014,” p. 9. China is developing its J-20 and J-31 stealth fighters.Russia continues to improve its T-50.26. Perry and Hadley et al., “The QDR in Perspective,” p. vi.27. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, “Statement on Department Budgetand Efficiencies,” United States Department of Defense, January 6, 2011,( See alsothe Secretary’s commencement address at Notre Dame, May 22, 2011( “Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy,” delivered at GeorgeWashington University, April 13, 2011 ( S. 365, the Budget Control Act of 2011, signed on August 2, 2011,Public Law 112-25.30. Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, “Impact ofSequestration on the National Defense,” before the Senate Committeeon Armed Services, November 7, 2013. See also Admiral Greenert’s“American Military Strategy in a Time of Declining Budgets,” givenSeptember 5, 2013 at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington,D.C. (

31. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, “If sequestration-level cuts arereimposed in 2016, the active-duty Army will have to downsize to anend strength of 420,000,” in “FY 15 Budget Preview,” February 24, 2014( General Mark A. Welsh, “Fiscal Year 2015 Air Force Posture Statement,”before Senate Committee on Armed Services,” April 10, 2014, “TheKC-46A will begin to replace our aging tanker fleet in 2016, but eventhen when the program is completed in 2028 we will have replaced lessthan half of the current tanker fleet and will still be flying over 200 KC-135s,” which date to the Eisenhower era.33. Perry and Abizaid et al., “Ensuring a Strong U.S. Defense for theFuture,” p. 36.34. Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent served on both the 2010 and 2014National Defense Panels.35. Perry and Abizaid et al., “Ensuring a Strong U.S. Defense for theFuture,” p. 8.36. The baseline defense budget proposed by Secretary Gates for fiscal year2012 was $554 billion. In relation to U.S. GDP for 2012, determinedby the Bureau of Economic Analysis to be $15.86 trillion, whichwould have resulted in a 3.4 percent of GDP allocation for defense. Incontrast, the fiscal year 2014 baseline budget of $496 billion requestedby Secretary Hagel, in relation to the BEA’s 2014-2Q GDP estimate of$17.31T yields a 2.86 percent allocation of GDP for defense. See CBOreport “Long-Term Implications of the 2012 Future Years DefenseProgram,” June 30, 2011, p. 6, Table 1-3 (www.cbo.govs/sites/default/files/cbofiles;ftpdocs/122xx/doc12264/06-30-11_fydp.pdf) and ( Congressional Budget Office, “Estimated Impact of the AmericanRecovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and EconomicOutput in 2013,” February 21, 2014, p. 1 ( Congressional Budget Office, “Insurance Coverage Provisions of theAffordable Care Act — April 2014 Baseline,” April 14, 2014, Table 1( Perry and Abizaid et al., “Ensuring a Strong U.S. Defense for theFuture,” p. 35.40. CBO report, “The Long-Term Implications of Current DefensePlans,” January 2003, p. 50, ( See also GAOstatement by Paul L. Francis in “Defense Acquisition, 2009 Review ofFCS is Critical to Program’s Direction,” April 10, 2008, p. 10, GAO-08-638T ( The Honorable Jim Talent and the Honorable Jon Kyl, “A Strong andFocused National Security Strategy,” special report from The HeritageFoundation and the American Enterprise Institute, October 31, 2013, p.19 ( Perry and Hadley et al., “The QDR in Perspective,” p. 85.43. CBO report, “Making Peace While Staying Ready for War: TheChallenges of U.S. Military Participation in Peacekeeping Operations,”December 1999, p. xi, Summary Figure 1 provides a stark graphicrepresentation of the ramp-up in the number of personnel deployedannually during the Reagan years, through Bush administration, andacross most of the Clinton years. (

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