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Old 12-07-2018, 01:58 PM
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Arrow Our National Defense Crisis

Our national defense crisis

America military superiority has deteriorated, and we could face a decisive military defeat if our leaders in Washington do not come to grips with the reality of the world we live in.

This is the conclusion of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, a bipartisan, congressionally chartered body, which we co-chaired. Our commission consulted with civilian and military leaders in the Department of Defense, representatives of other U.S. government departments and agencies, allied diplomats and military officials, and independent experts.

Our report makes clear the nation must restore the hard-power strengths at the core of its foreign policy, become more bold and innovative operationally, and put its military budgeting on firmer footing.

We must be ready to compete, deter and win. But unless we change the current trajectory we might actually lose a shooting war down the road.

Global threats

Since World War II, America has led a world of remarkable prosperity, freedom and security because of unmatched U.S. military power. Our strength through the decades has underpinned the freedom of the global commons. Those are the reasons the world has not repeated the devastating global wars of the early 20th century — saving millions of lives, including countless American lives.

However, today we face our worst national security threats in decades.

China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are serious threats to the U.S. and the world it shaped. The U.S. is now in a time of “great power competition” with an aggressive China and revanchist Russia. In the Western Pacific and Eastern Europe, critical regional military balances are shifting dramatically in China’s and Russia’s favor. Today, China, Russia, or North Korea can disrupt the U.S homeland with cyberattacks or the real risk of limited nuclear strikes.

“Gray-zone” aggression — coercion in the space between war and peace — is increasing. And, dangers posed by radical jihadist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda have evolved and intensified.

How do we effectively meet such challenges? The Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy offers an initial blueprint for overcoming such aggression and making the world safer, more peaceful and prosperous. It is also a launching pad for overcoming Chinese and Russian hegemony. Those aims are on target; but a sense of urgency, rigorous analysis, stable funding and broad support are needed — not Washington gridlock and budgetary paralysis. America has weakened its own defense due to partisan politics and short-term budget plays, such as the 2013 sequester mechanism.

Today’s global threats can’t be assumed away and should war occur American forces will face harder fights and suffer far greater losses than at any time since Vietnam — and may lose.

Increasingly, our allies and adversaries question whether America can uphold its defense commitments to allies and partners. This is deeply worrisome and would affect Americans of all walks of life if we are unable to protect our vital interests from adversaries who wish us harm.

Forging a safer world

Our National Defense Strategy calls for unprecedented innovation across all military operational levels. Bolder approaches to surpassing our adversaries’ capabilities are imperative.

For instance, the United States must thoroughly modernize its nuclear deterrent, increase its cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, space and missile defense capabilities, and boost readiness. And the Army, Navy and Air Force must all increase in size.

This takes vision — and stable funding. We cannot shortchange our national defense and expect Americans will be protected for very long against the rising threats to the American way of life.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was a welcome relief from budgetary austerity but it was only a first step. A step in the wrong direction is the national security budget for fiscal 2020, which decreases U.S. military funding from $716 billion to $700 billion. This is a problem if we are to bolster and improve our national defense posture as explained above.

Going forward, as our report describes, the U.S. military needs a 3 to 5 percent increase in annual real budgetary growth for defense over at least five years and perhaps beyond. Most important will be future budget appropriations that are predictable — and ideally multi-year — in order to avoid budgetary havoc wrought by short-term continuing resolutions.

Overall, our country needs a strategic and holistic approach that addresses long-term fiscal challenges, such as runaway entitlement spending, while also generating additional revenues.

The escalating security challenges in Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific demand a strong U.S. response — and Americans must understand that a strong military stares down and prevents such threats from becoming deadly catastrophes of war and conflict.

Failing to address this crisis will be tallied in American lives, American treasure, and American security and prosperity lost. So much depends on whether Washington can support a robust and relevant national defense system that protects us all.

About the writer: Eric Edelman and Gary Roughead are co-chairmen of the National Defense Strategy Commission.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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