Briefing

Enhanced Defense Briefing 

Tonight we are going to review the main components of enhanced defense, outline the problems and threats that this strategy addresses, consider how to address these threats, and then discuss and counter the main objections against this approach.

 

What is enhanced defense?

What are the main components of Enhanced Defense?

1.   Increasing force size

2.   Adding substantially to the defense budget

3.   Decreasing U.S. participation in peacekeeping operations

4.   Refocusing U.S. strategy on winning the war against global terrorism

5.   Deterrence of rogue states

6.   Investing in the technologies of the future (NMD)

 

These six components aim to restore the military to its proper focus on deterrence and war fighting, make investments to insure against future threats, and give our forces what they need to accomplish their mission.  It’s very simple – let the military be the military and give it the tools it needs to succeed.

 

Here are the problems it will address

1.   Our militaries lack of focus.

2.   The hollowing out of our military forces

3.   Obsolescence

 

The situation we find ourselves in is this.  Peacekeeping is requiring our soldiers to be police rather than soldiers.  Restraint, forbearance, caution, and diplomacy combine to form a fundamentally different approach then taking the offensive, seizing ground, and defeating the enemy.  These are not interchangeable missions.  We want our troops to be good at the core strengths that will keep them alive and allow them to win.  We are running our military into the ground by keeping troops on extended deployments, not filling shortages, and reducing the force while maintaining the same level of operations.  Undermanned units don’t train together at full strength, and individuals do not have the crucial advantage of working together as a team. Operations are being funded with maintenance funds and maintenance funds are being pulled out of procurement funds.  And because procurement cycles require so much time, they require long term planning.  In the year 2010, the majority of tanks and planes became older than their operators.  These are problems that must be addressed.

 

Here are the threats it will address

These internal problems are set in an environment where we must tackle certain challenges.

1.   Terrorists with global reach and potential access to weapons of mass destruction

2.   Russia is still far from stable – we have no way of knowing what political infighting might lead to or if economic reforms will be able to provide a successful transition for that nation.   The Cold War is over, but there is still quite a bit which can go wrong.

3.   Similarly, China is going through its own transformation, which may or may not see a turning away from authoritarianism.  There are and will be great powers out there whose interests may conflict with ours.

4.   There are rogue states to be countered – some of whom have shown they support suicide missions as a viable option and who believe they speak directly to God.  Both these factors making them much less open to traditional forms of negotiation.

5.   Tack on to this a world awash in weapons technology, where we have limited controls into whose hands these deadly weapons fall.

 

Now some people will say that some of these threats are “unlikely”, but with the extremely high stakes that we are talking about, “unlikely” is not good enough to bet on.  Accidents happen, coups happen, someone thinks God spoke to him, and not everyone who inherits the decision-making authority is guaranteed to be a rational actor.  People under stress do crazy things.  So we must guard against capability as well as probability.  Probability is always an uncertain science, whereas capability is much easier to define.

 

Here are the threats we are less certain about addressing

At the same time that we look out over all the potential dangers in this world, we have to be asking ourselves where our responsibility begins and ends.  All over the globe there are serious and significant troubles.  Ethnic violence, refugee issues, environmental degradation, overpopulation, insufficient infrastructure, religious hatreds, torture, famine - the list is endless.  And most peacekeeping missions involve many of these issues.  So we can never say something is doomed from the start, but we can look at a situation and say – this is not a place where we can do a whole of good. 

Setting priorities can be an awful task, but our first responsibility is to protect our citizens.

Where we believe we can do some good, we should be relying more on our allies to contribute to these operations.

 

Here is what we are going to do about it

1.   Investments in procurement, people, and modernization, thereby giving our military forces the resources they need

2.   Substantially raise the pay and benefits of our military personnel

3.   Invest in NMD to provide protection from intercontinental ballistic missiles

 

This three-point plan is going to cost us around $500 billion dollars a year, an increase from 3.5 percent of GDP and 16 percent of the Federal Budget to 4 percent of GDP and 20 percent of the Federal Budget.  Enhanced defense will increase authorized personnel from 1.45 million to 1.6 million with 100,000 of this total going toward combat units.  This will give us the margin we need to ease the strain of current operations.

This will provide for today’s needs and tomorrows uncertainties with a prudent margin of safety.

  

What this will provide us with

We are going to get a lot back from our investment.  There are many, many benefits to an appropriately and fully funded military force.

1.   Protection at home

2.   The ability to deter, pre-empt, or defeat global threats by projecting and sustaining power in distant theaters

3.   Deny enemies sanctuary where they can hide and function

4.   Protect U.S. information networks from attack

5.   Allows joint service interoperability

6.   Protect U.S. space capabilities from attack

7.   Allow us to protect the global systems we rely on, such as sea lanes

8.   Handle major regional contingencies in which the U.S. national interest is at stake

9.   Provide us with a margin of error against unexpected threats

10. Provide forces robust enough to win any conflict with the minimum loss of life

11. Allow us to both deal with today’s known threats and future threats in a measured way, which allows us to keep our options open and does not tie our hands

12. Accepts the reality that as much as we might wish it, we cannot do a great deal to solve the problems of other states.  It allows us to properly refocus our military

13. Sufficient funding to maintain technological superiority allowing for the immediate purchase of hardware, greater R&D investment, and development of the transformation in military affairs

14. Allow us to develop NMD, a system that could protect us against accidental launches, protect us from blackmail or attack from rogue states or terrorists, and help us protect our allies

15. Allow the military to operate at a reasonable operational pace

16. Enhance the quality of life for our service personnel

 

Disadvantages

- Requires substantial increase in defense spending at a time when there are many competing claims on the federal budget that is already in deficit.

There is never going to be a time when there are not many competing claims on the federal budget.  We would prefer not to be running a deficit, but security for our citizens is a non-negotiable element of citizenship.  Furthermore, this is a pay now versus pay later proposition. Estimates of the economic damage from the one attack on 9/11 range from a minimum of $170 billion to upwards of $250 billion per year. And this is a relatively small attack to what we could be looking at in the future. 

No one will suggest that by spending more money we guarantee that we will not face attacks in the future, but the standard we have to use in this case is – what would a prudent person expect to spend?  Intuitively we know that when someone tells us we can get more for less, that there is probably a catch.  You generally get what you pay for.

- If we eliminate our role in peacekeeping operations, our influence in these matters will decrease.

Again, it is a matter of our priorities.  We are an idealistic nation, and mostly that is a positive attribute.  However, it leads us to think that we can and should have influence in every part and corner of the globe. We don’t need to be involved in everything.  For example, there is an Economist cover that came out recently.  It said (slide). Our continued willingness to take up the slack is allowing other nations to pass the buck to us. In another briefing, the suggestion was put forward that maybe leaving the issue of North Korea to the Chinese was a viable one.  To say – they’re your neighbors, they’ve got a nuclear program, their refugees are going to be streaming across your border – see you later and good luck.  Now this may or may not be our answer to this particular question, but we need to be more willing to let other countries take up their share of the responsibility for international trouble spots. We need to focus on our core missions, because focus is what allows you to become great in any endeavor.  And it is particularly important that the military be great at being the military.  It is practical and reasonable to admit that we cannot do everything and allow our war-fighters to regain focus.

- Makes non-traditional threats such as ethnic violence or international crime a lesser priority.

Setting priorities is a sign of sound resource management.  It is seductive to think you can avoid the difficult task of setting priorities, because it allows you to pass the decision down the line.  But this is simply shirking responsibility.

- Possibly misses the potential and comparative advantage of achieving major technological breakthroughs at lower cost, since modernization will be incremental and, as a result, could cost more in the long run.

There is at least an equal chance that rushing ahead with technological programs because we hope they will work the first time out will lose us massive amounts of money.  Just because software companies think its appropriate to dump products on the market before they are fully tested, does not give us the right to dump untested systems on our military.

By way of closing, I want to focus on one of the main advantages to enhanced defense – the substantial increase in pay and benefits.

And I want to start by asking this question - Why are we so uncomfortable with making the military a well-paid profession?  We have no problem compensating our doctors, our lawyers, our executives - and being in the military is at least as important as these professions.  These people are not our indentured servants, and yet with the hours they put in and the conditions under which they live, we are sending a message to them which is not one we should be proud of – and that message is – we don’t walk our talk.  We get all weepy at parades, but that is the extent of it.  Another slogan we’re fond of is – theirs is a debt that can never be repaid.  And whenever I hear that I think – try.  There is no harm in trying to repay that debt.  Enhanced defense will not compensate them at the levels we compensate doctors, lawyers, and people who peddle sugar water or video games, but it will attempt to close the gap between military and private sector pay.  This is a little enough thing to ask.

Now from a practical standpoint, this is certainly a retention issue.  People want to serve their country, but eventually they will get the message that we don’t really appreciate them – not enough to stand behind the rhetoric.  And then people will stop signing on the dotted line.

But when we start bandying around excuses about pay and benefits, we should be reminding ourselves of what is often missing from the discussion.  What’s the right thing to do?  What is right, and decent, and honorable? Because when you’re discussing someone who is willing to die for you, who volunteers to end their life for the sake of yours, you better be discussing what is right and decent and honorable.

Enhanced defense allows the military be the military, and gives it the tools it needs to succeed.  That is why it should be our strategy of choice.