Tag Archives: National Security

Ignoring the Issues That Matter, Part 2

What are the most important challenges and issues facing America—and why do politicians and pundits ignore them? We  concludes our review this vital topic.

Consistently, the most important challenges facing the American people are covered inadequately  by most media sources. Yesterday, we examined inaccurate coverage of national defense. Today’s report looks at Social Security, Medicare, health care, education, and the problems facing the middle class. 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. Social Security and Medicare are frequently and mistakenly called “entitlements,” lumping them in with a variety of assistance programs.  That is incorrect.  Working Americans pay for these benefits throughout their working lives, and depend on them when they reach their senior years. But all those dollars taken from paychecks are not put into an account with the workers name on them.  They are simply mingled with all other government income. And, both programs are going broke.

A Time Money report reports: “How worried should you be over Social Security’s future? According to the most recent Annual Report of the Board of the Social Security Trustees…After 2019, Treasury will start spending down the fund; its reserves are estimated to be depleted by 2035.”

Much the same can be said about Medicare. Modern Health Care reports that  “The Medicare trust fund will be insolvent by 2028, according to the 2016 Medicare trustees’ report released [in 2016].”

The fiscal health of both of those programs are vital, but far too many politicians are frightened of doing anything to remedy the problem.

MIDDLE CLASS DESPERATION. As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government recently reported, middle income Americans are losing ground. In December, 2015, Pew Social Trends reported “…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.” Pew Social Trends also reported that “From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally.”

THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS. America’s health care system was demonstrably superior to those of other nations, but it did have flaws. Obamacare, advertised as a means to address those flaws, actually made matters worse. Examples:

  1. Lost plans. Sen. Ben Sasse released a report about Obamacare’s effects on competition among insurers, concluding that outcomes have worsened for most Americans, in terms of choice of insurers and plans. Over the past year, the number of insurers offering plans in exchanges has dropped by nearly 6%.Many states have lost more than 80% of their insurers: Alabama went from 23 to 3, Arkansas went from 24 to 4, and Wyoming from 21 to 1, just to name a few. Only New York did not lose over half of its insurers, going from 28 to 15 insurers, a 46% decline.
  2. Higher premiums. report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust found that, since 2008, average employer family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865. From 2015 to 2016 the most popular exchange family plan, Family Silver, saw a 10% average increase in its premiums. In some states, premiums rose by nearly 40%.In 2015 the average annual family premium was $17,545 per year, and the average premium for a single policy was $6,251. Young men were particularly hard-hit. Average premiums rose by 49% from 2013 to 2014, the year Obamacare was supposed to go into effect.
  3. Higher deductibles. The New York Times, long a cheerleader for Obamacare, reported that many people can’t afford to use the health insurance that they have purchased because of the deductibles .New York Times reporter Robert Pear wrote that the median deductible in Miami was $5,000 in 2015. It was $5,500 in Jackson, Miss., and $4,000 in Phoenix. One Chicago family of four paid $1,200 monthly for coverage yet had an annual deductible of $12,700.
  4. High costs. The Office of the Actuary of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has projected that Obamacare will result in an additional $274 billion in administrative costs alone over the period of 2014 through 2022.

Obamacare is collapsing in a whirlpool of skyrocketing premium costs, vanishing choices, and deductibles so high as to make the coverage more an illusion than a reality.

EDUCATION. Despite spending more pupil than just about every other nation, America’s students have fallen behind their international peers. U.S. employers find that far too many are ill-prepared for the job market. Their lack of knowledge in the basics of science, math, American history and civics bode ill for the future.  The nation stands to lose much if not all of its leadership in technology, economy, and the very essence of its being within just a few short years.  Yet there is little movement to address this fundamental threat to the nations’ future.

There are solutions

None of these issues are insolvable.  In fact, some are readily correctable.

  • The nation’s electrical grid can be protected for less than $10 billion.
  • President Reagan faced a similar defense challenge when he took office. His increased spending on national defense actually discouraged America’s main adversary at the time, the Soviet Union, and commenced several decades of relative peace and prosperity between superpowers. The same can be done again.
  • The policies that have slashed middle class jobs, including favorable treatment for China, tax policies that encouraged corporations to take jobs overseas, and Obamacare policies that actually reward companies for replacing full time jobs with part-time positions are solvable through legislation.
  • Federal spending on anti-poverty programs that have failed to reduce poverty could be redirected to Social Security and Medicare.
  • The authority to determine school curriculum can be removed from the self-interested government bureaucrats, teachers’ unions, and the educational hierarchy and put back to where it belongs—in the hands of parents, organized into appropriate formats.

Ignoring the Issues That Matter

What are the most important challenges and issues facing America—and why do politicians and pundits ignore them? The New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews this vital topic in this two-part review.

The nation needs to distinguish between issues that count, and those of far lesser importance. Inevitably, this will produce rage in advocates of those causes deemed comparatively inconsequential.

The United States faces numerous challenges. Many of the fundamental underpinnings of America’s economy, national security, health, preparation for future generations, and even the very existence of the country’s cultural and ideological underpinnings are threatened as never before.

During recent years, The U.S. endured an armed force weakened by years of disinvestment, wishful thinking replaced blunt realism in foreign affairs, an attempt to improve the nation’s health insurance system failed, the middle class was deeply wounded, public education deteriorated, and the population became more divided than at any time since the Civil War.

Serious attempts to address any of these crises are substantially hampered by the national debt of about $20 trillion, (half of which was accumulated in just the past eight years) the influence of special interests which ignore the harm they have wrought, and a determined effort by many educational, media and political figures to, as Barack Obama promised, “fundamentally change” America.

The former president was never seriously questioned as to what he sought to change America into.  Those agreeing with his political views fail to explain how the government-dominated economic system he sought to bring about, and in the case of health care, actually did establish, would succeed in the U.S. after failing in almost every other nation in which it has been tried.  Countries as diverse as the former Soviet Union and modern-day Venezuela have tried and failed.  Some point to Europe, but the nations of that continent essentially established their government-heavy economic systems by relying on Washington to take over most of their defense spending. Even China, ostensibly a Communist regime, employs a form of capitalism, and, not incidentally, relies heavily on the American consumer to keep its economy moving.

As profound and existential threats to America remain unaddressed, much of our national conversation pretends they don’t exist and focuses instead on issues of, at best, secondary importance—or no importance at all. Much of the blame for the failure to successfully confront, or even acknowledge, the nation’s real challenges falls on the traditional media. In its fevered attempt to assist progressive candidates, America’s premiere news sources have chosen to gloss over the extraordinary problems that plague the nation.

These are the under-emphasized issues that should be the centerpiece of national attention:

NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS. The national discussion about foreign affairs and defense planning has borne little relation to reality, probably because the actual facts are sufficiently distressing to make pundits and politicians alike worry that an honest narrative, and an accurate description of the costs that need to be afforded to ensure America’s safety, are sufficiently unpleasant that audiences and constituents alike would turn away.

Bluntly: Russia, China, and Iran constitute a singular and unified threat against the west.  Their geographical size and population make them the largest foe the United States has ever encountered. Russia, for the first time in history, has a greater nuclear arsenal than the U.S. China will soon have a larger navy. As a unit, they are America’s equal in technology, conventional and strategic military strength, and industrial capacity.

Their belligerent goals are manifestly clear through their actions in Ukraine, the South China Sea, the Middle East, and their dramatic armaments buildup. As America slashed its defense budget, these nations hiked theirs.  Washington, over the past eight years, gave peace a chance; it didn’t work.

Rather than confront the facts and take the necessary steps to protect the nation, politicians see more benefit on spending for more popular domestic programs. Reporters and analysts allow that irresponsibility to continue, citing irrelevant statistics such as comparisons of how much larger Washington’s budget is than Moscow, China, and Tehran.  But that comparison is inaccurate. Those axis powers don’t have to worry about paying a profit to private companies to the extent the U.S. does, nor do they disclose all their spending, or include many personnel costs. Since they constitute a contiguous land mass, they also don’t have to worry about extensive lines of supply, as the Pentagon does.

A related issue:  America’s electrical grid is very vulnerable to attack by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could be triggered by a single well-placed nuclear blast, (North Korea has implied its ability and willingness to do this) or even a naturally occurring solar event, such as that which occurred in the 1850’s.

The Report concludes tomorrow with a look at Social Security, Medicare, Public Education, and Healthcare.

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the danger posed by inadequate defense budgets.

During its tenure, the Obama Administration engaged in policies which were breathtaking in their scope and in the extraordinary danger they posed. Among  these actions were slashing the defense budget, preventing the development of  an adequate anti-missile shield, proposing unilateral reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, withdrawing all US tanks from Europe, (some have since been returned) cutting benefits to active duty service members, alienating  regional allies such as Israel, betraying key nuclear defense secrets of the United Kingdom to Moscow, prematurely withdrawing U.S. forces from key hot spots, not responding to Chinese aggression towards allies Japan and the Philippines, ignoring Russian, Chinese, and Iranian military growth in Latin America, softening sanctions against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, and taking no viable steps in response to North Korea’s imminent deployment of nuclear ICBMs.

These actions occur in the face of a US military that was already sharply reduced from its strength in the recent past.  The navy has shrunk from 600 ships to 284, the Army is down from 17 divisions to ten, the Air Force from 37 fighter commands to 20.

This diminished force must contend with a Russia that has returned to cold war strength, possesses a 10 to 1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, has invaded two neighboring nations in the past ten years, has returned to cold war bases around the world, assisted in the shooting down of a civilian airliner, and has allied itself with China.

China has engaged in unprecedented espionage against civilian, governmental and military targets in the U.S., and has increased its nuclear and conventional military strength at a pace faster than either the Soviet Union or the United States did at the height of the cold war. It is a full-fledged military superpower on land, sea, air, and space, with technology every bit as capable as Washington’s.  It unabashedly asserts hegemony over a vast swath of seas that it has no legitimate right to, and has brazenly stolen resources from the Philippines. It makes no secret that it views the United States as an adversary, and its extraordinarily powerful armed forces are precisely structured to fight what is left of the American military.

The oft-cited clichés about the amount the U.S. spends on defense, and its comparison with potential enemies, serve to cloud the debate.  Defense spending as a percent of GDP, at about 3.3%, is at a near post-World War 2 low, and represents less than 16% of the federal budget.

Comparisons with the publicly stated budgets of Russia and China, which those opposed to adequate American defense spending often point to, is deceptive.  The non-transparent governments of those nations hide substantial portions of their military spending. They also do not include within their stated figures many items that their U.S. counterpart does.  Additionally, within their essentially command economies, manufacturers are not taking the type of profit American companies do, making the purchase of weapons exceptionally less costly.

The Trump Administration has called for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, although some estimates indicate that the actual figure may be closer to $30 billion. After the Obama disinvestment years, either figure represents merely treading water.

A True Pundit review of the request notes that “The Trump administration claimed that the proposal increases defense spending by 10 percent (approximately $54 billion), however, that number is based on unfounded estimations from 2011. The increase may actually represent a 3 percent increase, when based on the number former President Barack Obama said he would have liked to have seen last year.[Defense Secretary] Mattis said…while the $30 billion is necessary, it is only enough to fill current gaps, and not enough to improve capabilities in the future.”

Writing for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Mackenzie Eaglen explains: “The current outlook for the U.S. defense budget is middling with a chance of disappointment. When Trump’s first budget is eventually signed into law, it will likely just be a more muscular version of the status quo, increasing defense spending only a few percentage points above last year’s enacted levels… On the campaign trail, Trump set a fairly nebulous goal of growing the military to 350 navy ships, 540,000 active-duty army soldiers, 200,000 marines, and more than 1,200 combat-capable air force fighters. Such growth would cost an estimated $60 billion per year more than what Obama planned for in his five-year budget from 2017, or about $90 billion per year more than the levels prescribed by the Budget Control Act.”

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its exposure of the defense budgeting errors that endanger the U.S. 

In his recommendations for the 2018—2022 budget periods, Senator McCain states:

“We are now at a tipping point…We now face, at once, a persistent war against terrorist enemies and a new era of great power competition. The wide margin for error that America once enjoyed is gone. This deterioration of America’s global position has accelerated in recent years, in part, because the Obama administration’s defense strategy was built on a series of flawed assumptions. It assumed the United States could pull back from the Middle East and contain the threat of violent Islamist extremism. It assumed that ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea would improve conditions for negotiations and not exacerbate the threat. It assumed that a nuclear deal with Iran would moderate its regional ambitions and malign behavior. It assumed that U.S.-Russia relations could be “reset” into a partnership and that American forces in Europe could be reduced. It assumed that a minimal “rebalance” of efforts could deter China from using its rising power to coerce American partners and revise the regional order. “And it assumed with the Budget Control Act of 2011 that defense spending could be cut significantly for a decade. Though all of these assumptions have been overtaken by events, [President Obama] and many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have nonetheless failed to invest sufficiently in our nation’s defense. Indeed, for most of the past eight years, including this one, Congress has forced the Department of Defense to start the year locked into the previous year’s budget and priorities, which in practice is a budget cut.

“As a result, our military is caught in a downward spiral of depleted readiness and deferred modernization. Readiness is suffering, in part, because the force is too small and being asked to do more with less. This, in turn, harms modernization, as future defense investments are delayed and mortgaged to pay for present operations. That helps to explain why all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have stated that our military cannot accomplish the nation’s strategic objectives at acceptable risk to the force and the mission. Reversing this budget-driven damage to our military must be a top priority for national leaders…

“Donald Trump has pledged to ‘fully eliminate the defense sequester’ and ‘submit a new budget to rebuild our military.’ This cannot happen soon enough. The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year. Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter…

“Our adversaries are modernizing their militaries to exploit our vulnerabilities…The cost of further inaction…is worse: We will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict. Indeed, as General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, has said: “The only thing more expensive than deterrence is actually fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is fighting one and losing one.

“For many years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. defense planning and budgeting were guided by what was called a “two major regional contingency” force sizing construct. This required the U.S. military to be sized, shaped, and postured to fight and win two major wars in different regions of the world more or less at the same time. In 2012, the Obama administration departed from this construct…it stoked a perception of American weakness and created power vacuums that adversaries have exploited.

“A better defense strategy must acknowledge the reality that we have entered a new era of great power competitions. China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests. They maintain large, survivable nuclear arsenals. They are modernizing their militaries in order to counter our ability to project power. And they are making rapid progress…the United States must have the will and military capability to deter and, if necessary, defeat these competitors in order to maintain peace through strength. Without sufficient hard power, which is our leverage, our diplomacy will be ineffective.

“A better defense strategy must also account for the threats posed by North Korea and Iran…But these dangers are serious and growing. North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is rapidly developing a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the U.S. homeland. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons has been postponed but not halted. And it seeks to use its malign influence to remake the Middle East in its image. If left unchecked, these threats will grow, to the detriment of American interests, allies, and partners. Finally, a better defense strategy must recognize that violent Islamist extremist groups will continue to pose a direct threat to American lives, and that U.S. forces will be conducting counterterrorism operations at varying levels of intensity, for the foreseeable future. … the scale of our defense challenges are clear: Major improvements can be made in the next five years, but we will not be able to rebuild and reshape our military to the degree necessary in that timeframe. In this way, the goal of the next five years is more digging out than building up—halting the accumulated damage done during the Obama administration through decreasing force size, depleted readiness, deferred modernization, and sustained high operational tempo.”

A professional opinion on the need for even greater increases in defense spending comes from the Military Officers Association .: “While many in Congress, especially the defense hawks, have applauded [President Trump’s] defense increase, several in key leadership positions on the Armed Services committees say it is not nearly enough. The administration termed the $603 billion budget request, which is an increase of $18.5 billion over what the Obama administration had proposed for FY 2018, as an increase of 10 percent, but that number is only in comparison to sequestration levels of $549 billion. So in reality, says Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, ‘That’s really only a 3-percent increase and is fake budgeting’.”

The Report concludes Monday

The Budget Mistakes that Endanger America

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part exposure of the danger caused by the disinvestment in America’s National Security

Two dangerously mistaken assumptions have guided American defense planning since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The first, made by successive administrations, was that there would no longer be a substantial military threat following the end of the USSR, and that the only true danger remaining would be regional conflicts. China’s extraordinary increases in spending on armaments, and its development of a highly advanced and sophisticated force with worldwide reach, has proven that theory wrong, as has President Putin’s dramatic reconstruction of Soviet power and strategy. Both nations have engaged in aggressive actions, confident that their armed strength shields them from repercussions.

Russia has twice invaded neighboring nations, and engages in intimidating actions towards its European neighbors and the North American coastline. China has illegally occupied a resource-rich maritime area belonging to the Philippines. It is now claiming domination over vital sea lanes in contradiction of all international law.  North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have reached an extremely dangerous point, and the Taliban is preparing for a major return to power in Afghanistan. If they do so, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may be within their grasp.

Nikita vladimirov, in an article in The Hill.reports that “Russia and China are increasingly challenging the military superiority that the United States has held since the early 1990s…[they]…are spending heavily on ‘modernization’ to improve their militaries’ quality, efficiency and overall performance…According to the experts, China’s military advancement is most noticeable in its new naval and ballistic capabilities…Researchers at the International Institute for Strategic Studies noted the rapid development of China’s new air-to-air weapons that will ‘make the air environment more difficult for the F-35 and supporting aircraft.’…Moscow, meanwhile, is seeking to develop new technologies that would undermine U.S. capabilities in Europe and Asia.

“In summer of 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the country’s military progress, asserting that Russia had achieved ‘substantial success’ in modernizing its forces… Tony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said improvements to Russia’s nuclear weapons and precision cruise missiles should be a major concern for the Pentagon…Another highlight of Russia’s push toward military innovation is its lethal T-14 tank…the International Institute for Strategic Studies said the ‘revolutionary’ tank will feature new technologies that will ‘change battlefield dynamics’ in the future.”

The second assumption, solely the work of the Obama Administration, was that significantly scaling back American defense spending and activities would induce hostile nations to do the same.  In essence, President Obama “Gave peace a chance,” to quote the rock song.  It didn’t work. Instead, it had the reverse effect: aggressive nations saw U.S. weakness as an opportunity, and took advantage.

The errors of judgement and the rise of dire threats should have been headline news. But the prevailing leftist ideology within the American media has kept the overwhelming danger out of the headlines.  It is a mantra of Progressive politics that any penny spent on defense is a penny taken away from social welfare programs. Therefore, dependent on ever increasing benefits for support at the ballot box, left-leaning politicians have ignored the hazardous reality and continued their transfer of funds from the military to the programs that get them re-elected.

Former Defense Secretary  Ashton B. Carter noted  that “DoD’s [Department of Defense] 10-year budget projections have absorbed more than $750 billion in cuts, …DoD’s fiscal year 2016 budget is at a near-historic low, representing about 14 percent of total federal discretionary and nondiscretionary outlays.”

In 2010, the total defense budget was $757 billion.  The 2016 budget was approximately $585 billion.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) noted “Russia has challenged the postwar order in Europe by invading and annexing the territory of another sovereign nation…China has stepped up its coercive behavior in Asia, backed by its rapid military modernization…Military spending is not to blame for out-of-control deficits and debt.  It is now [at] the lowest [share of federal spending] since before World War 2.”

The Report continues tomorrow

America’s Defense Crisis

Following eight years of reduced budgetary support for the U.S. military, at a time when threats have increased dramatically from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists, the ability of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to defend the nation has reached a near-crisis level.

The warning signs have been apparent for some time. In 2015, General Martin Dempsey, who was serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. military, noted that funding for the armed forces was at the “lower ragged edge” of what was necessary to keep the nation safe. The latest assessments of American strength confirm that the ability of the nation to protect itself is only marginal. Even more troubling, according to another report, is that the infrastructure necessary to rebuild the military to a more acceptable level is itself below par.

The Defense Budget

At the start of 2016r, Senator John McCain   displayed consternation at the inadequate budget proposed by President Obama.  “…the Senate Armed Services Committee received testimony from the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said that he cannot recall a more diverse array of challenges and crises in his more than fifty years of service to the nation…at a time when U.S. military deployments are increasing to confront growing global threats, the President’s budget request is actually less, in real dollars, than what Congress enacted last year…rather than request an increase in defense spending that reflects what our military really needs, the President’s request [will cut] important defense needs – cutting 15,000 current Army soldiers and 4,000 sailors, reducing major modernization programs, and proposing a pay increase for service members much lower than what is needed to compete with private sector wages.”

Contrary to popular misconception, the U.S. defense budget, notes the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is a relatively small percentage of the federal budget, and a minor part of America’s GDP. “…the FY 2017 Department of Defense budget [prepared as instructed by the Obama White House] … would be 3 percent of GDP, and 14.2 percent of overall federal spending. Overall, the share of defense spending as a percentage of GDP has declined steadily since the end of the Korean War. What makes the Obama drawdown of the Pentagon unique is that, unlike the aftermath of prior wars or the Cold War, the potential threat to the U.S. is rising, not diminishing.”

“Woefully Inadequate”

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes the state of U.S. defenses as “a force-planning construct that is woefully inadequate for the global and everyday demands of wartime and peacetime… Gone is any plan that foresees conflict taking longer than one year in duration or any contingency with a whiff of stability operations, long-term counterinsurgency or counter-insurrection, or nation building of the type seen in Iraq and Afghanistan… After six years of budget cuts and operational shifts, hard choices have in many cases turned into stupid or bad ones. Fewer resources and the lack of bipartisan consensus in favor of a strong defense have forced commanders and planners across services to accept previously unthinkable risks as they pick and choose which portions of the national defense strategy to implement… Unmentioned is that the risk to the force grows each passing year. It is now at crisis levels and promises unnecessarily longer wars, higher numbers of wounded or killed in action, and outright potential for mission failure.”

Defense One  notes that it’s not just manpower and hardware that’s the problem. America is losing its lead in technology as well.  “The Pentagon is worried that rivals are developing their capabilities faster than the U.S. is rolling out new ones. The edge is shrinking.”

The Heritage Foundation’s report on U.S. military strength presents a worrisome picture of an understrength military. “The common theme across the services and the U.S. nuclear enterprise is one of force degradation resulting from many years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity. While the military has been heavily engaged in operations, primarily in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, since September 11, 2001, experience is both ephemeral and context-sensitive. Valuable combat experience is lost over time as the service members who individually gained experience leave the force, and it maintains direct relevance only for future operations of a similar type (e.g., counterinsurgency operations in Iraq are fundamentally different from major conventional operations against a state like Iran or China). Thus, although the current Joint Force is experienced in some types of operations, it is still aged and shrinking in its capacity for operations.”

The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute analyses of each branch of the military reveals the following deficiencies:

Army: The U.S. Army should have 50 brigade combat teams (BCTs); Currently, it has only 32.   The force is rated as weak in capacity, readiness, and marginal in capability.“The Army has continued to trade end strength and modernization for improved readiness for current operations. However, accepting risks in these areas has enabled the Army to keep only one-third of its force at acceptable levels of readiness, and even for units deployed abroad, the Army has had to increase its reliance on contracted support to meet maintenance requirements. Budget cuts have affected combat units disproportionately: A 16 percent reduction in total end strength has led to a 32 percent reduction in the number of brigade combat teams and similar reductions in the number of combat aviation brigades. In summary, the Army is smaller, older, and weaker, a condition that is unlikely to change in the near future.”

What would this mean in the event of a major conflict? According to AEI “…a recent RAND war game found that U.S. European Command could not prevent Russian occupation of Baltic capitals within three days, leaving follow-on forces to fight through the Russian Kaliningrad exclave, which bristles with weapons and troops.”

Navy: The U.S. Navy should have 346 surface combatants; currently, it has only 273, and only one-third of those are considered mission-capable.  The force is rated as weak in capability, and marginal in capacity and readiness. “While the Navy is maintaining a moderate global presence, it has little ability to surge to meet wartime demands. Deferred maintenance has kept ships at sea but is also beginning to affect the Navy’s ability to deploy. With scores of ‘weak’ in capability (due largely to old platforms and troubled modernization programs) and ‘marginal’ in capacity, the Navy is currently just able to meet operational requirements. Continuing budget shortfalls in its shipbuilding account will hinder the Navy’s ability to improve its situation, both materially and quantitatively, for the next several years.

According to AEI combatant commanders have only 62 percent of the attack submarines they need. It also is short of fighter planes. One example: Defense One  reports “The U.S. Navy says it needs about 30 new Super Hornets, but it has only funded two in the Pentagon’s 2017 war budget. It has listed 14 planes as “unfunded priorities” and money would be needed for an additional 14 planes in 2018.”

Air Force: The U.S. Air Force requires 1,200 fighter/ground-attack aircraft, but has only 1,113, many of which are overaged. The force is rated as marginal in capability and readiness, but strong in capacity. “the USAF’s accumulating shortage of pilots (700) and maintenance personnel (4,000) has begun to affect its ability to generate combat power. The Air Force … lack of ability to fly and maintain its tactical aircraft, especially in a high-tempo/threat combat environment, means that its usable inventory of such aircraft is actually much smaller. This reduced ability is a result of funding deficiencies that also result in a lack of spare parts, fewer flying hours, and compromised modernization programs.”

According to AEI, budget contractions have resulted in the current Air Force’s dubious honor of being the smallest and oldest in its history…as F-15/F-16 retirements outpace F-35 production. Another recent RAND war game showed it would require more fighter air wings than the Air Force currently fields in total to defeat a surge of Chinese aircraft over Taiwan.

Marine Corps: The USMC needs 36 battalions; it has only 24. It’s rated as weak in capacity marginal in capability and readiness. “The Corps continues to deal with readiness challenges driven by the combined effects of high operational tempo and low levels of funding. At times during 2016, less than one-third of its F/A-18s, a little more than a quarter of its heavy-lift helicopters, and only 43 percent of its overall aviation fleet were available for operational employment. Pilots not already in a deployed status were getting less than half of needed flight hours. The Corps’ modernization programs are generally in good shape, but it will take several years for the new equipment to be produced and fielded…the Corps has only two-thirds of the combat units that it actually needs, especially when accounting for expanded requirements that include cyber units and more crisis-response forces.”

The Nuclear Deterrent: [As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government has previously noted, Russia, for the first time in history, leads the world in nuclear weaponry.] The American nuclear arsenal is rated as weak in warhead modernization, delivery system modernization, and nuclear weapons complex, and marginal in readiness  and lab talent  It is only ranked strong in warhead surety and delivery reliability.  “Modernization, testing, and investment in intellectual and talent underpinnings continue to be the chief problems facing America’s nuclear enterprise. Delivery platforms are good, but the force depends on a very limited set of weapons (in number of designs) and models that are quite old, in stark contrast to the aggressive programs of competitor states. Of growing concern is the “marginal” score for ‘Allied Assurance’ at a time when Russia has rattled its nuclear saber in a number of recent provocative exercises; China has been more aggressive in militarily pressing its claims to the South and East China Seas; North Korea is heavily investing in a submarine-launched ballistic missile capability; and Iran has achieved a nuclear deal with the West that effectively preserves its nuclear capabilities development program for the foreseeable future.”

Russia has a larger nuclear capability than the U.S. China has more submarines and will soon have a larger navy. Both nations pose key threats to the U.S. Air Force, Notes the American Enterprise Institute. (AEI).  “…the [U.S.] Air Force has weakened relative to its adversaries. As China and Russia produce and export advanced air defense and counter-stealth systems alongside fifth-generation stealth fighters, the [U.S.] Air Force treads water, buying small numbers of F-35s while spending ever-larger sums on keeping F-15s and F-16s operational – though those aircraft cannot survive on the first-day front lines of modern air combat…Simply put, the armed forces are not large enough, modern enough and ready enough to meet today’s or tomorrow’s mission requirements. This is the outcome not only of fewer dollars, but of the reduced purchasing power of those investments, rising unbudgeted costs for politically difficult reforms continuously deferred, and a now-absent bipartisan consensus on U.S. national security that existed for generations.

In prior times of military crisis, the once-mighty U.S. industrial infrastructure was capable of rapidly turning out new ships, tanks, and aircraft. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, (AAM) that may no longer be the case. “U.S. national security is at-risk due to our military’s reliance on foreign nations for the raw materials, parts, and products used to defend the American people…With the closing of factories across the United States and the mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and other nations over the past 30 years, the United States’ critically important defense industrial base has deteriorated dramatically. As a result, the United States now relies heavily on imports to keep our armed forces equipped and ready. Compounding this rising reliance on foreign suppliers, the United States also depends increasingly on foreign financing arrangements. In addition, the United States is not mining enough of the critical metals and other raw materials needed to produce important weapons systems and military supplies. These products include the night-vision devices (made with a rare earth element) that enabled Navy SEALs to hunt down Osama bin Laden. Consequently, the health of the United States’ defense industrial base—and our national security—is in jeopardy. We are vulnerable to major disruptions in foreign supplies that could make it impossible for U.S. warriors, warships, tanks, aircraft, and missiles to operate effectively.”

One example cited by AAM: “The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company for the chemical needed to produce the solid rocket fuel used to propel HELLFIRE missiles. As current U.S. supplies diminish, our military will be reliant on the Chinese supplier to provide this critical chemical—butanetriol—in the quantities needed to maintain this missile system. HELLFIRE missiles are a widely used, reliable, and effective weapon launched from attack helicopters and unmanned drones. They are a critical component in America’s arsenal.”

The reduction in defense preparedness has been a factor in the continuing shortage of middle-income level jobs. The cuts continue to defense-related employment continues. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Boeing Co. said [on Nov.15 that] it would cut another 500 jobs over the next four years from its defense and space business by shrinking work at its Huntington Beach facility in California and closing two smaller plants in Texas and Virginia…Boeing’s defense arm has cut thousands of jobs over the past five years, a faster pace than reductions at a commercial airplane arm that have climbed in recent months as it faced tougher competition from Airbus Group SE.”

National Review summarized the condition of the U.S. military by quoting U.S. service chiefs at budgetary hearings earlier this year: “General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff at the time, reported that ‘readiness has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years. . . . Today we only have 33 percent of our brigades ready to the extent we would expect them to be if asked to fight.’ The chief of naval operations at the time, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, said, ‘Our contingency response force, that’s what’s on call from the United States, is one-third of what it should be and what it needs to be.’ The Air Force chief of staff, General Mark Welsh, said that if his airplanes were cars, ‘we currently have twelve fleets — twelve fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia. We must modernize our Air Force.”

President-elect Trump has pledged to increase the U.S. military and modernize the nuclear arsenal. According to the Washington Post “Trump’s win is good news for the defense industry, especially when coupled with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,’ said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who advises many of the nation’s top-tier contractors.”

What Washington Must Do Now

The Presidential marathon is finally over. Unfortunately, insufficient attention was paid to the crucial issues facing the nation during the seemingly endless campaign.

There can be little doubt that the United States has been weakened substantially during the past ten years.  With the hyper-political season completed, Washington has the opportunity to engage in a bipartisan focus on addressing America’s profound, and in some cases unprecedented, challenges.

There are numerous areas that require immediate attention.  In today’s summary, we begin by surveying three of the top problem areas.

Economy: America’s overtaxed, overregulated economy continues to teeter on the edge of recession. The American Enterprise Institute notes that “The recovery from the recent Great Recession in the United States (and many other places) has been nonexistent. The US per capita growth rate for 2009–15 was 1.3 percent per year, below the long-run rate of 2.1 percent per year. The growth rate during a recovery has to exceed its average to restore at least part of the cumulative loss in the level of GDP during the downturn.”

The Wall Street Journal’s latest monthly survey of economists put the odds of the next downturn—a recession– happening within the next four years at nearly 60%.

Middle income Americans have suffered most of all.  Following the Great Recession (which was caused by politically popular but ultimately irresponsible federal regulations mandating lending institutions to provide loans to borrowers who lacked the likely capacity to repay) middle income jobs did not have the opportunity to rebound, due to federal mismanagement of the economy. This added to the problems caused by the disastrous trade agreement by President Clinton with China in 2000 that encouraged the move of manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to Asia, which was directly responsible for the loss of 5.1 million jobs and the departure of 65,000 manufacturing plants.

Independent of the elected administration, the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep interest rates artificially low helped mask the effects of the economies mismanagement.

 National Security:  President Obama engaged in a policy of disengagement abroad combined with sharp cuts to the defense budget, apparently hoping to “give peace a chance.”  The move failed totally. Where America retreated, aggressive nations took advantage.

As the U.S. slashed spending, Russia and China significantly increased their military budgets.

The President’s premature withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq led to the empowerment and massive growth of ISIS. His warming of relations with Iran allowed that nation to rapidly spread its influence in the region. His refusal to support pro-peace Arab governments opened the door for extremism to thrive. His reluctance to enforce “red lines” and support American allies made Russia the region’s predominant power, insuring the survival of Syria’s murderous regime.

The White House’s refusal to respond to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in any substantive way—diplomatic or economic—encouraged Putin to lay the groundwork for further aggression. Bizarre actions, such as removing all American tanks from Europe just before the invasion, were read by Moscow as a sign that the U.S. had lost interest in insuring peace on the continent.

A similar pattern took place in the Pacific.  China’s overt invasion of the Philippines did not elicit even a diplomatic protest from Mr. Obama, encouraging further adventurism by Beijing.  Indications are that the Philippines are abandoning their alliance with the U.S. and moving towards China.

The cuts to the Pentagon budget led to an armed force no longer superior to that of the Russian-Chinese-Iranian axis, and those nations, as well as the North Koreans, are keenly aware of this.

 Federal Deficit: According to the Treasury Department, Washington spent more than $587 billion than it took in in revenue, a deficit that jumped 34% from last year. The government spent $3.9 trillion dollars, but took in “only” $3.3 trillion, a record high amount.  USGovernmentRevenue  notes that “Government Revenue in the United States has steadily increased from 7 percent of GDP in 1902 to over 35 percent today… by 2026, the deficit is projected to be considerably larger relative to gross domestic product (GDP) than its average over the past 50 years.” The US Debt Clock notes that as of the time this report was being prepared, the federal debt was $19,703,158,000,000. In 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration, the debt was $10,024,724,896,912.49, as recorded by Polidiotic.  As a sign of the weakening economy, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009.

Obama/Clinton Nuclear Policies Endanger America, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government’s two-part overview of Russia’s relatively  little-reported national security challenges to the United States concludes today.  

It is stunning how, in the hotly contested American presidential contest, little mention is made about former secretary Hillary Clinton’s sale of massive interests in uranium (the basic ingredient of nuclear weapons) to Russia.

Robert Monroe, a former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency writes in The Wall Street Journal  that “… one of the most important issues in the 2016 election should be the precarious decline of America’s nuclear forces…Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military strategy focuses on early use of these weapons in conflicts large and small. China is in the midst of an immense strategic modernization. India and Pakistan are expanding and improving their nuclear arsenals. North Korea issues nuclear threats almost weekly. The Mideast is dissolving into chaos, and Iran’s advanced nuclear-weapons program has been on the front pages for two years.” He notes that “Since the dawn of the nuclear era, 12 U.S. presidents—six Democrats and six Republicans—have specifically stated nuclear superiority as U.S. policy. Mr. Obama reversed it upon taking office and has accelerated the deterioration of America’s nuclear arsenal.”

Monroe advocates a return to realism in the setting of our nuclear defense strategy, a sharp reversal of the Obama/Clinton naïve policies. To address these multiplying threats, “U.S. nuclear policy must undergo radical changes.”

He notes that “Since the dawn of the nuclear era, 12 U.S. presidents—six Democrats and six Republicans—have specifically stated nuclear superiority as U.S. policy. Mr. Obama reversed it upon taking office and has accelerated the deterioration of America’s nuclear arsenal.” He includes in his recommendations the modernization of America’s increasingly obsolescent nuclear arsenal. “President Obama’s policy doesn’t permit research, design, testing or production of new, advanced nuclear weapons. Our current nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical—were designed and built decades ago to meet different threats, and have gone untested for decades.” Monroe also calls for a refutation of the essentially pacifist Obama/Clinton policies and a “• A return to legitimate deterrence in U.S. foreign policy.”

The Center for Security Policy quotes  General Kevin P. Chilton,  who served as Commander of the United States Strategic Command: “Other declared nuclear powers continue to modernize their nuclear weapons, delivery platforms, and infrastructure. Conversely, the US has effectively eliminated its nuclear weapons production capacity and allowed its infrastructure to atrophy. We no longer produce successive generations of nuclear weapons and we have discontinued underground testing.”

The Heritage Foundation’s analysisof the health of the dwindling U.S. nuclear arsenal found it to be only “marginal,” and notes further worries, as well.

“The National Nuclear Laboratories are beset by talent and recruitment challenges of their own. Thomas D’Agostino, former Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), stated that in about five years, the United States will not have a single active engineer who had ‘a key hand in the design of a warhead that’s in the existing stockpile and who was responsible for that particular design when it was tested back in the early 1990s.’ This is a significant problem because for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, the U.S. will have to rely on the scientific judgment of people who were not directly involved in nuclear tests of weapons that they had designed and developed and were certifying… our ability to reconstitute nuclear forces will probably decline with the passage of time…Fiscal uncertainty and a steady decline in resources for the nuclear weapons enterprise have [also] negatively affected U.S. nuclear weapons readiness… Certain negative trends could undermine U.S. nuclear deterrence if problems are not addressed. From an aging nuclear weapons infrastructure and workforce, to the need to recapitalize all three legs of the nuclear triad, to the need to conduct life extension programs while maintaining a self-imposed nuclear weapons test moratorium, to limiting the spread of nuclear know-how and the means to deliver nuclear weapons, to adversaries who are modernizing their nuclear forces, there is no shortage of challenges on the horizon.”

Dire military threats, and urgent national security challenges are apparently far too trivial for the media to cover.

 

 

National Security is a Real, Not Just Political, Issue

“Third Way,” a Democrat think tank that currently attempts to soft-pedal the extreme leftist perspective on national security brought about by the Obama/Clinton wing of their party, views the national security challenges facing the United States not in terms of the very real threat facing the safety of the American people but as a political issue that has arisen due to a psychological attitude of the citizenry.

Its recently published a report entitled the National Security Debate Book, opens with this analysis:

“In the 2016 election cycle, Democrats are facing a challenge they haven’t seen since the Vietnam War. National security, specifically terrorism, is now among voters’ most important public policy concerns, and they overwhelmingly trust Republicans more than Democrats to keep them safe. If handled ineffectively, this yawning gap between the parties on security poses a serious political risk to Democrats and continues to undermine public faith in government.”

Rather than discuss the reality that, during the past eight years, terrorist forces have reached an unprecedented level of strength and influence, Russia has become the most powerful nuclear force on Earth, and China has risen to military superpower status, the report notes:

“Following a terrorist attack on the West, the acute symptoms of fear may fade quickly, but there is evidence that heightened levels of anxiety in the general population can linger for years. Now, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the public is going through this psychological response to terrorism to a degree not seen since 9/11. For example, a Gallup poll from December 8-9, 2015, found that 51% of Americans are worried that they or a family member will be the victim of a terrorist attack,7 a higher percentage than at any time since 2001. Moreover, the survey found a widespread sense of hopelessness: confidence in the government’s ability to protect citizens from terrorism was at an all-time low of 55%. By comparison, immediately after 9/11, [when Republicans controlled the White House] 88% said the government could protect them…Beyond public opinion data, there are deep psychological reasons that security has such an outsized effect on voters. Research on the psychology of terrorism shows that, unsurprisingly, populations experience heightened levels of fear following terrorist attacks…The problem with this extremely heightened level of concern for terrorism is that, all too often, Democrats seek to minimize the threat of terrorism. Instead of empathizing with voter fears, Democrats frequently dismiss them…”

Perhaps the authors of the Report need to discuss among themselves or with their psychologists the inability of the elected officials they support to deal with the reality of the dangers that have arisen from their refusal to acknowledge reality.  Nothing illustrates this blindness more than President Obama’s State of the Union comment that “The shadow of the crisis of terrorism has passed,” unless, of course, one counts Hillary Clinton’s opposition to at least maintaining America’s diminished and rapidly obsolescing nuclear arsenal.

The Russians now have a ten to one advantage in tactical nuclear weapons and, for the first time in history, an advantage in strategic nuclear weapons as well. The Report notes this, stating:

“Russia maintains the world’s largest nuclear arsenal … Its …military has undergone significant modernization, outmatching U.S. forces in some areas.” The Report’s short term strategy to deal with this? “…in the short-term, we must avoid giving Russia a pretext to escalate tensions.”

China not only has a rapidly growing advantage in numbers of submarines and, within less than three years, ships, it has closed the overall military gap in quality and technological sophistication as well. It’s modern, capable military received a major upgrade in quality following President Bill Clinton’s sale of a Cray supercomputer to them in the 1990’s.  The report recognizes Beijing’s superpower status:

“China is in many respects the second most powerful country in the world. A nuclear power with the second largest military… The Chinese military wants to be able to win a potential conflict with the United States in the western Pacific Ocean, and is modernizing to meet that goal. Together with China’s aggressive territorial claims, its military expansion has alarmed its smaller neighbors, such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia, who look to the United States for protection.”

The Report suggests that America “Maintain a strong U.S. military presence in Asia and strengthen the capabilities of regional allies;” but fails to endorse the necessary steps to allow that to happen. For example, the U.S. defense industrial base is a mere shadow of what it once was. A prime example: there is only one plant in America capable of building tanks, and the President has repeatedly attempted to close it down.

There was a time following the Second World War when, all sides, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, believed that insuring America’s role as the world’s strongest military power was absolutely essential.  That philosophy prevented a third world war from starting. It’s time to stop thinking of national security as a political or psychological problem and return to viewing it for what it truly is: national survival.

Global Threats Continue to Rise

The New York Analysis continues with its review of the vital study by the Congressional Research Service on the military challenges facing the United States.  The report, which directly contradicts President Obama’s assertion that America is safe and strong, examined evidence that overwhelmingly points to an era of exceptional, indeed, unprecedented danger facing both the U.S. and its allies across the globe.

The June 2015 National Military Strategy released by the Department of Defense (DOD) states: Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups—all taking advantage of rapid technological change. Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. They will have increasing implications to the U.S. homeland….

Complexity and rapid change characterize today’s strategic environment, driven by globalization, the diffusion of technology, and demographic shifts…. Despite these changes, states remain the international system’s dominant actors. They are preeminent in their capability to harness power, focus human endeavors, and provide security.

Most states today — led by the United States, its allies, and partners — support the established institutions and processes dedicated to preventing conflict, respecting sovereignty, and furthering human rights. Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests…Russia … has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms, including the UN Charter, Helsinki Accords, Russia-NATO Founding Act, Budapest Memorandum, and the IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Iran also poses strategic challenges to the international community. It is pursuing nuclear and missile delivery technologies despite repeated United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease such efforts. It is a state-sponsor of terrorism that has undermined stability in many nations, including Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Iran’s actions have destabilized the region and brought misery to countless people while denying the Iranian people the prospect of a prosperous future.

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies also contradicts repeated demands by the international community to cease such efforts. These capabilities directly threaten its neighbors, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan. In time, they will threaten the U.S. homeland as well. North Korea also has conducted cyber attacks, including causing major damage to a U.S. corporation…

China’s actions are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region. For example, its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea are inconsistent with international law. The international community continues to call on China to settle such issues cooperatively and without coercion. China has responded with aggressive land reclamation efforts that will allow it to position military forces astride vital international sea lanes…For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. and NATO Military Capabilities in Europe

Russia’s seizure and annexation of Ukraine and Russia’s subsequent actions in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe have led to a renewed focus among policymakers on U.S. and NATO military capabilities in Europe…. In December 2014, Russia issued a new military doctrine that, among other things, calls for a more assertive approach toward NATO. In June 2015, Russia stated that it would respond to the placement of additional U.S. military equipment in Eastern Europe by deploying additional forces along its own western border…

New Forms of Aggression and Assertiveness

Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, as well as subsequent Russian actions in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, have already led to a renewed focus among policymakers on how to counter Russia’s hybrid warfare or ambiguous warfare tactics.

China’s actions in the East and South China Seas have prompted a focus among policymakers on how to counter China’s so-called salami-slicing tactics in those areas.

Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Deterrence

Russia’s reassertion of its status as a major world power has included, among other things, references by Russian officials to nuclear weapons and Russia’s status as a major nuclear weapon power. This has led to an increased emphasis in discussions of U.S. defense and security on nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence…

Maintaining Technological Superiority in Conventional Weapons

DOD officials have expressed concern that the technological and qualitative edge that U.S. military forces have had relative to the military forces of other countries is being narrowed by improving military capabilities in other countries, particularly China and (in some respects) Russia. To arrest and reverse the decline in the U.S. technological and qualitative edge…

Defense Acquisition Policy

DOD officials and other observers have argued that staying ahead of improving military capabilities in countries such as China in coming years will require adjusting U.S. defense acquisition policy to place a greater emphasis on speed of development, experimentation, risk-taking, and tolerance of failure during development.

Reliance on Components and Materials from Russia and China

Increased tensions with Russia have led to an interest in eliminating instances of being dependent on Russian-made military systems and components for U.S. military systems. A current case in point concerns the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine, which is incorporated into U.S. space launch rockets, including rockets used by DOD to put military payloads into orbit. Concerns over Chinese cyber activities or potential Chinese actions to limit exports of certain materials (such as rare earth elements) might similarly lead to concerns over the use of certain Chinese-made components (such as electronic components) or Chinese-origin materials (such as rare earth elements) for U.S. military systems.