the President and Congress make the right decisions over the next 10
years, America will have the optimal military to keep the nation safe,
free, and prosperous while responding to the emerging national security
challenges of the 21st century. Achieving the ideal composition and
capabilities of U.S. military forces will require:
- Building a robust complement of capabilities for the spectrum of missions the armed forces will face,
- Ensuring adequate funding for ongoing operations,
- Maintaining a trained and ready all-volunteer force,
- Preparing for the future, and
- Fundamentally reforming manpower and procurement policies.
realize these goals, both the President and Congress must commit to a
program that addresses the most pressing priorities: preparing,
fielding, and sustaining the force.
Any discussion defining the future force should be rooted in the past
and reflect the principles that define the U.S. military's purpose and
responsibilities. The purpose of government is to provide for the
common defense as prescribed by the Constitution, and the armed forces
play an important role in achieving that end. Their primary task is to
protect the nation's vital national interests. These interests have
proven remarkably consistent and enduring over time and despite the
changing threat environment from generation to generation. Heritage
Foundation President Edwin Feulner reflected in 1996:
band of conservative isolationists on the fringe wants America to
withdraw from the world altogether, while a suddenly macho band of
liberal interventionists seeks to remake…the rest of the world in its
own preening self-image….
The real problem, it seems to me, is that
neither group has any conception of America's true vital interests in
the real world today.
12 years—six of which have been spent fighting the long war against
transnational terrorism—Feulner's salient list of America's vital
interests is still applicable:
VITAL INTEREST #1: Safeguard U.S. national security.
VITAL INTEREST #2: Prevent a major power threat to Europe, East Asia, or the Persian Gulf.
VITAL INTEREST #3: Maintain access to foreign trade.
VITAL INTEREST #4: Protect Americans against threats to their lives and well-being.
VITAL INTEREST #5: Maintain access to resources.
first "means, above all, to protect America's territory, borders, and
airspace" as well as sea-lanes, space, and cyberspace. Threats to the
second may range from both state and non-state entities. With respect
to the third, "The greatest danger…comes not from outside U.S. borders
but from inside, from those who fear America cannot compete…."
Defending the fourth means "an obligation whenever possible to protect
American citizens from terrorist and other international criminal
respect to the fifth of these vital interests, maintaining access to
resources is obviously essential both to long-term U.S. national
security and to the country's continuing economic competitiveness. It
is in the vital interest of the United States to uphold the principle
of freedom of the seas and to promote and protect the ways and means of
free trade among nations acting in accordance with the rule of law.
Criteria for U.S. Military Intervention
The best rules for where, when, and how American military force should
be brought to bear have also remained historically consistent. Any U.S.
military intervention that puts America's men and women in uniform in
harm's way should meet the following criteria:
Criterion #1—Military intervention should defend national security interests.
Both the President and Congress must recognize that not all national
interests are equally important.… For America to use its power
effectively, it must prioritize where and how it chooses to defend its
vital, important, and marginal interests, thereby avoiding both
excessive activism that diffuses important resources and isolationism
that eschews important opportunities to shape events.
Criterion #2—Military intervention should not jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to meet more important security commitments….
Huge interventions in areas of marginal security interest have
exacerbated the strain on the U.S. military and made it doubtful that
the military can mobilize the resources necessary to defend vital
national interests and honor current security commitments.
#3—Military intervention should strive to achieve military goals that
are clearly defined, decisive, attainable, and sustainable.
Military interventions should be conducted to accomplish clearly
definable military goals that are militarily achievable, consistent
with overriding political objectives, and supported by enough force to
realize these goals….
Criterion #4—Military intervention should enjoy congressional and public support….
Such decisions should not be made by polls; Americans traditionally are
reluctant to intervene. However, when intervention is required, the
President should mobilize public support…so that American troops abroad
will know that the nation and the Congress support not only the troops,
but the actual goals of the operation.
Criterion #5—The armed forces must be allowed to create the conditions for success. The U.S. armed forces must be allowed the operational freedom to create the conditions within which they can succeed.
Blueprint for the Future Military
principles and criteria help define what the U.S. military is required
to do and how it should be employed. They also serve as the blueprint
for the kind of military that the nation will need in the decades ahead.
The Past Is Prologue.
While U.S. vital national interests have remained consistent, so has
the military. America's military has served the nation well since the
end of the Cold War. This generation of armed forces has proved that
it, too, is the greatest generation. Sustaining the best parts of the
military services—the character of the all-volunteer force, the
capacity to fight and win conventional battles, the ability to work
with friends and allies, and the means to respond in geostrategic
regions that are vital to U.S. interests—is essential to building the
Sustaining the Force. If the U.S.
military had become "hollow" after the Cold War—as it did following
World War II, Korea, and Vietnam—the armed forces would not have been
able to respond as effectively to their many post–Cold War missions.
While today's force is not hollow, however, chronic underfunding from
an excessive post–Cold War "peace dividend" has placed it under grave
stress. To prevent the future force from quickly becoming hollow,
Congress needs to provide consistent, sustained defense funding,
eliminate wasteful costs, and control spiraling manpower costs.
Thinking About the Unthinkable.In
the post– Cold War era, Washington has taken great risks by neglecting
vital but politically controversial components of defense, such as
missile defense, the nuclear deterrent, and space-based defenses. The
U.S. cannot afford to continue ignoring these needs simply because of
Establishing a military that has the
capabilities and capacity to perform all of the Pentagon missions—from
supporting the home front to intervening overseas and winning the
peace to dealing with a variety of terrorist threats to defending
against ballistic missiles and cyberattacks—requires a President and a
Congress that are willing to prepare, field, and sustain the force to
Preparing the Force
field the appropriate force for the future, the Pentagon must change
how it manages manpower costs and how it acquires goods and services.
cost of maintaining the ranks of the armed forces, including pay and
in-kind benefits, represents the largest portion of the annual defense
Keeping these costs under control and leaving sufficient funds to
modernize the military while maintaining the quality of the force is a
significant challenge. A successful future force will adopt policies
that cap the spiraling increases in manpower costs.
of the all-volunteer military depends on a well-designed compensation
package that attracts highly qualified people to military service. A
generous and attractive compensation package would focus on
compensating military servicemembers in ways that most directly meet
their needs. A tailored approach would also ensure that taxpayers get
the best return on their investment from the military. Such a custom
compensation package would recognize that military personnel, like
their civilian counterparts, are part of a highly mobile national labor
Over the course of his or her career, a typical
servicemember will move from active-duty service to the Reserve
Component and civilian employment. Therefore, a well-designed
compensation package would eliminate artificial barriers to the
efficient transition of servicemembers among different forms of
military service and the civilian sector. The Department of Defense (DOD) refers to this as a "continuum of service" concept for compensation.
all, the military compensation package that best supports the
all-volunteer force in the 21st century will be flexible. In general
terms, this flexibility is best achieved by favoring cash
compensation over in-kind and deferred benefits and designing the
remaining benefits around defined-contribution plans. Labor mobility
makes trying to design benefit packages to meet the unique needs of
every uniformed individual difficult and inefficient. Cash compensation
would provide servicemembers and their families more freedom in
deciding how best to utilize or allocate their benefits.
cash compensation would also likely boost morale in the military
because servicemembers tend to compare their pay levels with their
civilian counterparts on this basis. The current system, which is
biased toward in-kind and deferred benefits, leaves uniformed personnel
with the impression that they are undercompensated compared with their
civilian peers. This impression lingers even though the Government
Accountability Office noted that in 2002, a study "showed that
servicemembers generally earn more cash compensation alone than 70
percent of like-educated civilians."
Increased cash compensation would therefore help to alleviate a source
of resentment in military ranks. Defined-contribution plans would also
allow all of the servicemember's employers, including government and
private employers, to contribute toward meeting servicemembers' health
care and retirement needs.
Congress should continue to provide
annual pay increases to military servicemembers over the next 10 years.
However, these annual pay increases should be combined with more
efficient ways of providing benefits beyond paychecks, particularly in
retirement and health care.
The military should reform its
current retirement system by adopting, on a transitional basis, a new
structure in which the military contributes to each servicemember's
retirement account. The plan should also permit the member and civilian
government and private employers to make contributions. Finally, the
plan should allow the servicemember to bequeath the assets to the
servicemember's heirs upon his or her death without paying estate or
death taxes. By the end of the 10-year period, all new military
recruits would be covered under this new retirement system.
military also needs to reform the military health care system, which
covers servicemembers and their dependents. The military should seek
congressional authorization to move health care coverage for dependents
to the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) system on terms
consistent with what is available to federal civilian employees. This
would permit the military health care system to focus on serving
military personnel and meeting the unique requirements of military
For future military retirees, the military should seek
congressional authorization to create a system of defined-contribution
plans with individual accounts for military members. The funds in these
accounts should be used to pay private health insurance premiums,
deductibles, and out-of-pocket medical expenses. As with the proposed
retirement system, servicemembers, retirees, civilian government
employers, and private employers should be permitted to contribute to
these accounts. By the end of the 10-year period, all military
dependents should be covered under the FEHB system, and all new
recruits should be enrolled in the defined-contribution plan for
Exploiting Cutting-Edge Capabilities.Today,
the private sector, not the government, conducts most scientific
research and development. In addition, industry is pioneering many of
the most cutting-edge technologies (e.g., information technology,
biotechnology, nanotechnology, and robotics). In many areas, from
information management to logistics, it is business—not the armed
forces—that has mastered the most effective practices and developed the
capability to deliver the greatest service at the lowest cost. Much of
the challenge that the Defense Department faces is the mandate to
become more adept at leveraging the private sector's capacity. Part of
building a better military over the next decade must include making the
military a better customer of private-sector services.
access to cutting-edge defense technology is essential to fielding a
U.S. military force that outmatches any potential enemy. This will
require an acquisition system that neither slows the fielding of
advanced technology nor encourages risk-averse behavior by the defense
acquisition bureaucracy. Further, the military needs access to
cutting-edge technology in a climate where private sector investments
in science and technology far exceed military investment, unlike during
the Cold War.
Ultimately, providing advanced technology to the
military requires a defense market that is both open and dynamic.
Regrettably, the defense acquisition system has become so complex and
so regulated in the attempt to prevent acquisition failures that the
defense market has become largely closed and stagnant. Consolidation of
prime DOD contractors during the 1990s had the unintended consequence
of discouraging new players from entering the defense supplier network.
Without new contractors with non-defense backgrounds, the security
sector will lack the creativity necessary to keep the U.S. military
technology at the cutting edge.
The remedy is to adopt a broad
program for deregulating the defense acquisition system. While this
deregulation program should address narrow issues such as curtailing
"buy America" provisions and reforming arms export control policies, it
should concentrate on removing redundant acquisition review procedures
that are designed to prevent acquisition failures. As part of this
effort, Congress should reform how it oversees defense procurement and
stop using defense legislation to micromanage acquisition programs.
Rather, the deregulated system should encourage the Defense Department
and DOD contractors to take calculated risks in exploring new defense
technologies and not punish either program managers or defense
contractors for taking these risks.
The relatively large share
of national science and technology investments coming from outside the
defense sector means that some of the most promising technologies will
originate in the civilian sector. The defense acquisition system must
adjust to this reality. The DOD should therefore focus its attention
on technological developments in the civilian sector and "spinning in"
such technologies to the defense realm.
Congress and the DOD should set goals for the next 10 years to achieve real defense acquisition reform.
to increase the number of new defense contractors entering the market,
Congress and the DOD should deregulate the market to encourage new
contractors to enter voluntarily. They should not impose a new layer of
contractor diversity rules, which will likely have the opposite effect.
Congress and the DOD should create a specialized arm of the defense
acquisition system to search the civilian sector for new technologies
that can be used for defense.
Third, Congress should
adopt annual defense authorization and appropriations bills that are
less intricate and provide greater discretion to DOD program managers
to pursue advanced weapons.
Finally, the military needs to master contracting for war.
single greatest shortfall in contracting practices in Iraq and
Afghanistan was that Washington lacked the capacity to oversee the
unexpected massive volume of new defense contracts. For instance, the
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction "found that the
shortage of personnel (and the widespread lack of required skill and
experience among those available) affected all facets of
When the Iraq war started, only 3 percent of the Army's contracting
personnel were on active duty, and the Army did not have even one
career Army contracting general officer position. The commission found
that only about half of the contracting officials were certified to do
their jobs. At the same time, since the long war against terrorism
began, the Army has experienced a sevenfold increase in work.
resolution of these shortfalls is simple: All of the services must
increase the size and quality of their contracting forces, and they
need the capacity to expand their forces to meet large-scale
To address these varied practical problems, the
services—the Army in particular—should begin by reading and
implementing their own reports. For example, in October 2007, a
commission established by the Secretary of the Army found that almost
every component of the institutional Army—from financial management to
personnel and contracting systems to training, education, doctrine,
and regulations—needed to be bolstered to handle the volume of work
experienced by military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
more robust contracting force would include a corps of contracting
officers specifically prepared for and trained in "expeditionary"
contracting. In other words, unlike writing a contract to provide
lawn-mowing services at Fort Sill or buying new headgear, the
military's contingency contracting corps must be prepared and ready to
deploy overseas. There must also be a clear chain of command for
contracting and contractor support for forward-deployed forces on the
battlefield and those back at the Pentagon. Not only will this make
contracting more responsive; it will also ensure that individuals are
held responsible for conducting the people's business.
contracting force will require institutional support to ensure its
effectiveness. This means restructuring organizations so that personnel
receive the training, education, practical experience, and support
tools that they need (e.g., up-to-date information systems) and the
lines of responsibility are clear.
When Washington gets contracting in combat right, there will be experienced and capable contracting officers at all
deployed locations. This cadre of professionals will have support tools
and requisite authorities required to do their job and will work
closely with military forces and other interagency representatives in
their areas of responsibility. These managers will supervise contracts
awarded under a contingency contracting process that is capable of
matching available resources to the military's needs.
Fielding the Force
the right mix of military capabilities will be the military's greatest
challenge in the years ahead. The Pentagon needs to reconstitute its
forces because equipment and personnel have been worn out by six years
engaged in a long war. The armed forces also need to prepare for the
future without the luxury of focusing on a single enemy or particular
type of conflict.
Building Four Quadrants of Military Capability.The
Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review rightly argued that America
does not have the luxury of planning for one war alone. Enemies may
challenge the U.S. through irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive
means—or a combination of these— to deny or degrade traditional U.S.
military advantages. The military's future challenges range from
defeating terrorist networks to preventing the acquisition or use of
weapons of mass destruction to preventing failed states.
same time, the United States cannot sacrifice its capacity to fight
conventional conflicts. Indeed, unpreparedness makes conventional
conflicts more, not less, likely. A great power that lacks the
capacity to defend itself is not a great power. It is instead a
target—an invitation to aggression.
Nor can America afford to
ignore the classic components of deterrence. The age when only a great
power could bring another great power to its knees is over. Any state
and some non-state entities with a modicum of resources could field
weapons, such as nuclear bombs, that could inflict heavy casualties
and/or devastate the U.S. economy. The United States needs to maintain
the means to limit all of these dangers.
just to add more ground troops will not suffice. Indeed, no single
capability—whether "boots on the ground" or satellites in space—will
address all future challenges. A successful 10-year modernization of
the military requires a comprehensive plan that demonstrates how the
Pentagon will maintain adequate means to deal with threats across all
four quadrants of conflict.
The military must not only be the
right size for the long war against terrorism but also be capable of
performing the appropriate tasks. The old adage that "every problem
looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer" sums up many
policymakers' approach to conflict. The Cold War military was a hammer,
but a long war demands many more tools.
Expanding the toolbox
will be difficult. "Transformation" was the Pentagon's popular
exhortation after the Cold War. Few actually agreed on what the effort
meant, but every general and admiral seemed to want some.
An elementary definition of the term meant providing a new set of
military capabilities fundamentally different from those used during
the Cold War. The difficulty was deciding exactly what those
capabilities would look like. Too often, the answers from the services
were that many of the systems and platforms already under development
to meet Cold War objectives were transformational and should therefore
probably be paid for at the expense of some other service's budget.
than a decade after the Cold War ended, the transformation rhetoric in
the halls of the Pentagon finally appears to be shifting. Talk is
moving away from change for the sake of change to transforming the
military so that it can carry out the many missions that will be
required in the 21st century. Appropriately, much effort is being
spent on things that do not fit a single-service paradigm, such as
ballistic missile defense, space operations, better information
systems, more special operations forces, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
These are the hallmarks of the new military coming out of the Pentagon,
and the services should continue these important efforts.
10 years of progress would include an integrated approach to
modernization rather than ceaseless competition among the services to
promote particular forces or hardware.
Taking the High Ground.
The U.S. defense portfolio has clearly become unbalanced in many
respects. A successful 10-year modernization effort will require
increasing investments in certain accounts while decreasing efforts to
reform and revitalize other defense capabilities. Yet no part of the
military requires more urgent attention than U.S. strategic forces.
By 2018, the U.S. missile defense forces should be more balanced than
they are today. The Bush Administration's vision for missile defense is
the correct one: a layered defense that can protect against missile
attack worldwide. This layered defense would exploit opportunities to
counter ballistic missiles in the boost, midcourse, and terminal
phases of flight in order to counter missiles of all ranges. It would
protect U.S. military forces in the field and U.S. allies, as well as
U.S. territory. Finally, it would use the full panoply of basing modes:
ground-based, sea-based, air-based, and space-based. The major problem
with today's initial missile defense capability is that is extremely
unbalanced in these areas.
Listing the missile defense
interceptors that are available now or will be available in the near
future reveals the lack of balance in the U.S. missile defense posture.
These interceptors include roughly 750 Patriot Advanced Capability-3
(PAC-3) interceptors, which are ground-based, terminal defense
interceptors for countering shorter-range missiles. Their primary
purpose is to defend U.S. forces in the field and U.S. friends and
allies in distant regions.
By the end of 2009, the Navy is
projected to have over 50 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) sea-based
interceptors and somewhat fewer than 100 SM-2 Block IV interceptors.
The SM-3 is a midcourse interceptor that is designed to counter
short-range and intermediate-range missiles. It provides theater-area
defense to U.S. forces abroad and U.S. allies. The SM-2 Block IV
interceptor is being adapted as a terminal defense to counter
Finally, the Missile Defense Agency is in
the process fielding some 44 ground-based midcourse defense
interceptors in Alaska and California and 10 missiles in Poland in the
The current missile defense posture, which is
dominated by the PAC-3 system, overwhelmingly favors terminal defenses
over boost-phase and midcourse-phase defenses. Indeed, the posture
includes no boost-phase interceptors whatsoever. PAC-3 dominance, along
with the SM-2 Block IV, also means that the overall posture is much
more robust for countering short-range missiles than for countering
intermediate-range and long-range missiles. As a result, it offers
greater protection to U.S. forces in the field and U.S. allies than to
the American people. Ground-based interceptors greatly outnumber
sea-based interceptors, and the U.S. has no air-based or space-based
Over the next 10 years, the U.S. should deploy a
balanced missile defense system by concentrating on fielding additional
interceptors at sea, in the air, and in space. Using these basing modes
should overcome current deficiencies in countering long-range missiles
and intercepting missiles in the boost and ascent phases.
Department of Defense can achieve this balance by fielding these
systems and by concurrently following the acquisition strategy proposed
by the Independent Working Group in 2006. This strategy includes:
future generations of the SM-3 missile smaller and lighter kill
vehicles to make them capable of countering long-range missiles and
intercepting missiles in the boost phase.
- Testing and fielding
space-based interceptors based on Brilliant Pebbles technology
developed under the Strategic Defense Initiative. The goal should be to
deploy 1,000 Brilliant Pebbles interceptors in space within 10 years.
sensor, tracking, and command and control systems that cover the globe
and can accommodate both greater numbers of interceptors and newly
- Maintaining a robust science and
technology base to explore the opportunities to field directed-energy
weapons, distributed satellite networks, and air-based defenses among
In 10 years, the U.S. military needs a robust set of space capabilities
to execute the national security provisions in President Bush's 2006
Space Policy Directive.
The directive tasks the Secretary of Defense and the Director of
National Intelligence with the primary responsibilities for protecting
vital U.S. national security interests in space.
important space capabilities can be divided into three general areas:
achieving space situational awareness, fielding an operationally
responsive array of space systems for national security, and
protecting U.S. space assets and countering the exploitation of space
by hostile forces.
The first step in preserving U.S. national
security interests in space is to acquire space situational
awareness—understanding which satellites are in orbit and for what
purposes. Until the U.S. achieves such awareness, it will not
understand the threats to its own space assets and capabilities that
may be faced in the future. Within 10 years, the U.S. should deploy an
array of satellites and ground-based telescopes to catalogue and
monitor all but the very smallest objects in Earth orbit. A portion of
the satellite array may be derived from NASA programs for observing
asteroids in the solar system.
In the event that U.S. space
assets are disabled or destroyed, the military and the intelligence
community need to have backup plans and replacement systems to restore
the lost capabilities. This combination of plans and systems is called
operationally responsive space. One aspect of the plan is to use
distributed networks of small satellites as opposed to a small number
of large satellites. A distributed network of satellites would be more
survivable against certain kinds of attacks.
The first step is
to construct these networks of small satellites and place them in
orbit. The second step is to maintain readily available and inexpensive
launch systems to replace satellites that are lost in any attack. A
shift toward distributed networks of small satellites means that most
of the launch systems could be designed to carry smaller and lighter
payloads. Within 10 years, the plans should be in place, and the U.S.
should have made significant progress toward obtaining necessary
The Space Policy Directive calls for the U.S. to
protect its access to space and deny adversaries the use of space for
hostile purposes. The policies, plans, and capabilities to fulfill
these goals are referred to collectively as defensive and offensive
counterspace. The requirements for an effective program of defensive
and offensive counterspace are derived from war games and tabletop
exercises that are drawn in part from real-world experiences in space
operations. The problem is that past war games and exercises may not
have been based on realistic assumptions about enemy capabilities. Much
of this is because many of the past war games and exercises are
Given the lack of transparency, the first step in
attaining effective defensive and offensive counterspace capabilities
is to establish an outside group of experts to review the design of
these war games and exercises and to consider opportunities for
improving defensive and offensive counterspace capabilities that may
have been overlooked. This review could be completed by the end of
2008. To the greatest extent permitted by national security concerns,
the review and its supporting documents should be declassified. Within
10 years, substantial progress should be made toward fielding, as
recommended by this group, a comprehensive array of capabilities to
preserve U.S. access to space in the face of hostile actions and to
hold enemy space assets at risk. The President in 2018 should have a
wide variety of military options for protecting U.S. vital interests in
Nuclear Forces. Today, the nation's nuclear
weapons infrastructure is atrophying. This is not what was envisioned
by the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, which effectively established a
The damage-limitation strategy is designed to lessen the incentives for
other states to acquire nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; to
reduce the likelihood that such weapons will be used in attacks on the
U.S. and its friends and allies; and to limit the impact of such
The source of the problem with the atrophying nuclear
infrastructure is an erroneous assumption that U.S. nuclear forces
fielded during the Cold War, including the delivery systems, are
inherently capable of meeting today's strategic needs. While the number
of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal is being reduced from Cold War
levels, the U.S. needs to modernize its smaller nuclear arsenal.
first step in remedying the problem of nuclear weapon atrophy is to
establish a plan for modernizing the U.S. nuclear forces in accordance
with the Nuclear Posture Review. The President should issue a directive
on strategic targeting policy requiring that such a plan should be
drafted within a matter of months. It should also direct Strategic
Forces Command to identify a worldwide list of targets the U.S.
military needs to hold at risk as part of the damage-limitation
strategy and to determine how best to hold these targets at risk,
whether by defensive systems, conventional strategic strike systems,
or nuclear strategic strike systems, including a sufficient level of
The nuclear weapons component of the total strategic
force needs to meet the requirements of the targeting directive. The
Department of Defense should spend the remainder the next 10 years
designing, testing, building, and fielding a new generation of nuclear
weapons. This effort should extend both to the weapons themselves and
to their delivery systems. This modernized force should be optimized to
hold at risk the identified targets assigned to the nuclear component
of the overall strategic force.
Control the Commons.Getting
to the battlefield is half of the fight. To reach future front lines,
U.S. forces must be free to transit sea-lanes, control airspace,
exploit cyberspace, and thwart enemy attempts to deny U.S. access to
potential theaters of conflict. As the National Intelligence Council
has aptly noted, "The international order will be in greater flux in
the period out to 2020 than at any point since the end of the Second
World War." It is generally agreed that:
adversaries are developing and fielding…military capabilities that will
place US forces operating from large, fixed forward bases, and in the
littoral regions, at increasing risk. Consequently, the Pentagon faces
new challenges to the operations of air and land forces from overseas
bases, as well as how best to structure its maritime forces to operate
in the littoral.
commerce is becoming an increasingly important component of the global
economy. This trend both increases the number of potential targets for
an adversary and could provide cover for an enemy trying to approach
U.S. coastlines undetected. State and non-state groups could launch
attacks from U.S. waters using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),
short-range ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles, possibly armed
with weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists could also use small
boats packed with explosives or naval mines to attack commercial
shipping in U.S. waters or overseas ports.
In early February,
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, starkly
warned Congress that the military's current strategic risk is
"significant." The military's inability to defeat cruise missiles or
naval mines, provide persistent surveillance, project power quickly,
or operate within a defined "battlespace" (including in the air) places
the U.S. military at even greater risk in future conflicts. Defense
budgets have to consider the investments needed for tomorrow based on
national security requirements. Whether the country needs more Coast
Guard cutters, attack submarines, or long-range bombers, military and
civilian authorities should carefully and rigorously assess future
requirements and hedge accordingly with the right force structures and
platforms—many of which will require investment today so that they can
enter the force by 2020.
The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review
highlighted the need to create military capabilities to shape and
defend cyberspace while maintaining command and control capabilities
that can survive cyberattacks. The U.S. government, and the military
in particular, remains extremely vulnerable in cyberspace and needs to
improve its defensive and offensive capabilities quickly. Congress and
the President should fully support the effort to thwart America's
adversaries in cyberspace as military success in the 21st century will
require the ability to deter and defend against cyberattacks and strike
at enemies in cyberspace.
Building Reserve Forces for Future Missions.
The need for U.S. forces will likely wax and wane in the coming years.
In this dynamic environment, Reserve Component forces will remain
vital. They provide the flexibility to expand the operational force
quickly and efficiently when the demand for troops suddenly increases.
In addition, they play a vital role in protecting the homeland and
responding to natural and manmade disasters in the United States.
stress on members of the Reserve Component reflects the lack of
adequate investment in the total force after years of chronic
underfunding and the lack of effective personnel policies to manage,
train, sustain, and reconstitute Reserve forces. Most disasters,
including terrorist attacks, can and should be handled by emergency
responders. However, catastrophic disasters—events that overwhelm the
capacity of state and local governments— require a large-scale
response. Having the military play a prominent role in the immediate
response to catastrophic disasters is prudent.
achieve this mission set, America's reserve ground forces must be large
enough to maintain some units on active duty at all times for rapid
response and sufficient to support missions at home and abroad. For
catastrophic response, the medical, security, critical infrastructure,
and oversight components would need to be particularly robust.
homeland security forces should be self-deployable, self-sustaining,
and capable of operating in austere environments where critical
infrastructure is significantly degraded. For example, the Air Force's
efforts to enhance its expeditionary airfield capability overseas will
be well suited to domestic security in the United States. America's
Reserve forces must promptly be freed of less-than-essential homeland
defense missions to meet these domestic requirements. This includes
current missions such as U.S. Air Force air patrols or U.S. Army
supplementation of Customs and Border Protection agents.
rapidly changing maritime threat environment and the utility of
maritime forces in responding to many catastrophic disasters also
argue for an organizational structure that better utilizes the Navy's
capacity to support homeland security operations. Several states with
maritime interests already have state naval militias. Creating a Navy
Guard that includes all coastal areas would provide these states with
more resources and allow the Navy Guard to focus on state needs when
not on active duty. This would also provide a suitable partner for the
U.S. Coast Guard to facilitate integration of daily DOD and homeland
security maritime operations.
The National Guard needs an
equipment modernization program that is specifically designed to meet
its unique needs and capabilities. While not ideal, the lack of a
modernization program was acceptable when the National Guard was
primarily an adjunct to active units, for use typically in the later
stages of conflict. Over the past six years, however, the Army
National Guard has contributed almost half of all Army troops on the
ground in Iraq in certain years and has assumed an increased role in
homeland defense missions.
The next Administration will need to
restock severely depleted domestic equipment supplies, rethink
mobilization policies, update benefit plans for the reserves to allow a
continuum of service, and restructure the force size to meet the needs
of anticipated future missions.
eserve Component forces should
be updated and adapted to better fulfill the tasks of the 21st century:
supporting homeland security activities, theater support operations,
and post-conflict missions.
The Future Force
exact composition of the future armed forces—how many Army brigade
combat teams, vehicles, ships, aircraft, and Marines—will depend on a
number of considerations, including progress in the long war against
terrorism, the rise of competing regional powers, and the prospects of
U.S. alliances such as NATO. Furthermore, given the evolving threat
environment, the right force structure will likely be dynamic, not
However, some milestones for force structure choices can
be laid out now based on experience from current conflict and impending
fiscal and structural challenges. To achieve the needed force
structure, the United States, at a minimum, should:
- Rebuild ground forces.
The Clinton-era cuts in manpower were imprudent. Ground forces should
be restored to pre-1998 levels. Additional ground force needs should
be based on balancing strategic requirements and manpower costs. In
most cases, additional manpower needs should be met affordably by
expanding the Reserve Components into a more sustainable and flexible
- Preserve the all-volunteer force.
All future military manpower requirements should be met by expanding
the all-volunteer force. Conscription and any form of national service
should be used only as a last resort in the most dire national
- Expand the capabilities-based force.
The armed forces should increase their capacity to respond to a wide
range of missions, including post-conflict operations,
counterinsurgency, and homeland defense, but not at the expense of the
services' capacity to wage conventional warfare.
- Revitalize the strategic forces. The military should develop robust capabilities in missile defense, space-based operations, and cyber warfare.
- Develop next-generation platforms. The services should develop and field next-generation systems, such land vehicles, cruisers, and bombers.
- Exploit cutting-edge technology.
The military will need new technologies (e.g., directed-energy
weapons, unmanned combat aerial vehicles, and other robotic systems)
that give it a significant competitive advantage over future
- Maintain air supremacy. The U.S. military must retain the capability to dominate airspace in any theater, including space and cyberspace.
- Maintain the capacity to control sea-lanes and defeat anti-access strategies.
Naval and Marine forces should concentrate on these core missions,
while other maritime "constabulary" missions should increasingly be
assigned to the Coast Guard.
Sustaining the Force
third and likely greatest challenge for Congress and the
Administration over the next 10 years will be providing the resources
to sustain a military that is capable of carrying out the national
military strategy within an acceptable margin of risk over the next
Spending at Least 4 Percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on Defense.Americans
are often surprised to learn that, by historical standards, federal
defense spending is relatively modest, particularly given that the
United States has been at war since September 11, 2001, and is
conducting major military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed,
members of America's military have made well over 2 million individual
deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
While Americans are firmly
committed to maintaining a strong national defense, they often defer
to their leaders in Congress to reflect their views and take
appropriate action. Regrettably, some Members of Congress are already
predicting a post-Iraq peace dividend and procurement holiday. Some
Members are already posturing to accept, if not encourage, a
significant drawdown of the defense budget within as little as two
years even though America's service chiefs have told them that
war-related bills will continue to come due for at least three years
after major combat operations subside.
Even though the recently
passed fiscal year (FY) 2008 defense budget provides about $460 billion
to the baseline Pentagon budget, it fails to answer the question of
whether or not this commitment to national defense will be sustained
for the next four years of the five-year budget period. The current
Administration has deferred cost estimates of ongoing operations in
the war on terrorism because projections are impossible this far in
advance. This omission, however, shows defense budgets declining after
FY 2008 to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by FY 2012.
significantly less than 4 percent of GDP on defense for the next five
to 10 years would shortchange the military. Such underfunding would
ultimately produce a hollow force that is either too small, unable to
sustain current operational demands, not ready, or at a technological
disadvantage on the battlefield.
Congress can provide
adequately for national security by making a firm commitment to fund
the national defense at no less than 4 percent of GDP for the next 10
years. This commitment would require Congress to add roughly $400
billion to the defense budget for from FY 2009 to FY 2012, which it
could do in the 2009 budget resolution. A portion of this money would
be allocated to ongoing operations, while the remainder should go to
the core defense program, with a special emphasis on developing and
deploying the next generation of weapons and equipment.
current and future budget projections, the services are scheduled to
field new platforms that will anchor U.S. security for the next
generation. America can afford the necessary upgrades. Over the long
term, federal spending should be reformed to provide adequate funding
for current defense needs, and the shape of the U.S. military should
continue to evolve to reflect future threats. Rather than reduce
defense spending, the next President and future Congresses should
commit to providing for the nation's defense by spending at least 4
percent of GDP on defense and ensuring that those resources are spent
Adopting Fiscally Responsible Policies.The
United States has a $13 trillion economy. As a result, modest economic
upticks and downturns, such as a mild recession or modest inflation,
are unlikely to affect defense spending significantly. However,
inadequate long-term fiscal policies from Washington could cripple the
economy, placing the overall competitiveness of the United States—and
defense spending—at risk.
Economic productivity and growth are
essential to providing for the common defense. To foster economic
growth, Washington policymakers should:
- Restrain non-defense discretionary spending.
Spending not related to defense and post-9/11 operations has increased
by 49 percent since 2001, or 5.9 percent annually compared to 4.2
percent growth under President Bill Clinton. Since 2001, spending on
education has grown by 7.5 percent per year, health research by 7.3
percent, and international affairs by 8.0 percent. At a time when
defense and homeland security priorities require especially tight
non-security budgets, Members of Congress have not made necessary
trade-offs. Instead, they have accelerated the growth of non-security spending.
- Bring entitlement spending under control.
Taxpayers cannot afford the massive intergenerational transfer of
wealth that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will soon require.
European economies are already being crushed under the weight of their
expensive social insurance programs, and the United States must take
steps now or meet a similar fate. This means modernizing these social
insurance programs to make them sustainable.
As baby boomers
shift into retirement, they are living longer, more productive lives.
Congress should gradually raise the retirement age to reflect this
change. It should also target benefits by reducing premium subsidies
for higher-income retirees and tying benefits to income. Over the
long-term, Congress should reform Medicare into a market-based system
that provides seniors with the right to choose better coverage if
they wish to do so. Seniors would also benefit from the intense
competition that private health plans would bring.
- Repair the budget process.
Lawmakers still cling to an antiquated budget process created in 1974.
During the past 30 years, successive Congresses have punched this
process full of holes, and federal spending has tripled. The current
budget process provides no workable tools to limit spending, no
restrictions on passing massive costs onto future generations, and no
incentive to bring all parties to the table early in the budget
process to set a framework.
America's budget priorities have
changed, and so should its budget process. Congress should ensure that
the long-term costs of entitlements are built into the budget process
and considered along with other priorities during the annual budget
debate. Congress should also put all programs, including entitlements,
on a more level playing field. It should do this by creating a
long-term budget framework for entitlements that is revisited every
five years along with "triggers" to make automatic adjustments if
spending grows above budgeted levels.
- Reform the tax code and permanently reduce the tax burden.
Today's tax system is an obstacle to economic growth. Taxing capital
through capital gain and dividend taxes, the death tax, and corporate
tax reduces economic growth and has a dampening effect on income
investment, jobs, and wage growth. High marginal personal income tax
rates also deter growth by disincentives to work, save, and invest.
The United States has the second-highest corporate tax burden (35
percent federal tax rate plus an average of 5 percent at the state
level) in the industrialized world, which reduces U.S. competitiveness
in the global economy. Economists estimate that the current tax system
imposes mammoth costs on the U.S. economy, suppressing economic output
by as much as 15 percent.
Annual growth rates could be much more impressive if the tax system did
not punish productive behavior. To create an environment that better
fosters growth, Congress should make the tax code flatter and simpler,
reduce or eliminate taxes on capital, and ensure that U.S. tax policies
are internationally competitive. The more competitive the United
States is economically, the better able it will be to provide for its
for the common defense is Washington's responsibility, and meeting
that responsibility is an achievable goal. Congress and the next
President need to make the right choices over the next 10 years to
prepare, field, and sustain an all-volunteer force that is trained,
equipped, and ready for the tasks of the 21st century. The American
people deserve nothing less.