Issue Position: National Security
* I supported the invasion of Afghanistan and believe we should commit the resources and troops necessary to finish the job of securing our homeland, eliminating the Al-Qaeda terrorist network wherever it operates, and capturing, or killing Osama bin Laden.
* I also believe that we must be careful not to sacrifice our civil liberties or undermine the Constitution even as we wage a struggle against Islamic extremism abroad and enhance our homeland security infrastructure at home. That is why I voted against the USA Patriot Act when it was hurriedly rushed through Congress right after 9-11. That is also why I have fought for improved homeland security measures, including our airports, harbors, ports and bordersconsistent with the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission.
* While it was not popular with some in my own party or with the Bush Administration at the time, I authored legislation to increase the troop-strength and division size of our Army because I recognize that we must have a larger and better equipped Army to meet our national security needs.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and from my trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, I know that the threat of terrorism is real and that, six years after 9/11, we still have a lot of work to do to make sure America is safe. I also know that our national security is too important to become a partisan issue. Every American, regardless of their political affiliation or ideology, has a stake in keeping our country strong militarily and safe from attack.
I sought a seat on the Armed Services Committee to help address our national security challenges, focusing specifically on our military preparedness, diplomatic efforts, the security of our borders, civil defense, and energy security.
First and foremost, our national security is dependent on the strength and preparedness of our military. One of the tragic consequences of the Bush Administration's failed leadership in Iraq has been that, after five years of war, our Army has come to a breaking point in terms of recruitment and readiness. In Congress, I have been working to improve the combat readiness of our forces.
It is no secret that our armed forces are stretched thin and are in need of reinforcement. That is why I authored legislation to increase the end-strength of the Army by 80,000 troops. This effort was initially resisted by the Bush Administration when I first suggested it in 2005, but after Donald Rumsfeld was replaced as Secretary of Defense by Robert Gates at the end of 2006, the Administration embraced my position. An expanded Army will relieve our active duty troops as well as our National Guard and Reserve, and enable them to rebuild their capacity.
I believe in a strong and smart defense policy. That means equipping our soldiers with the very best and maintaining superiority in material and training. But it also means that we must be strategic in our deployment of troops, using military force when it is critical to preserve and respond to threats to our national security.
Second, we must reinvigorate our diplomatic efforts throughout the world. The reputation of the U.S. among our allies and enemies is at an all-time low. The strain on our international relationships continues to impair our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, our ability to confront the nuclear threat posed by Iran, and our overall efforts to fight terrorism. Terrorism cannot be fought using military power alone. In Iraq, I have long advocated a 'diplomatic surge' to match our military 'surge', as recommended by the Baker-Hamilton Commission in its Iraq Study Group (ISG) report. I introduced legislation to make the report's recommendations U.S. policy, and also coauthored the New Diplomatic Offensive for Iraq Act (H.R. 3797), which would draw from the ISG recommendations to establish a regional diplomatic plan for Iraq.
Third, our national security depends on enhanced border security and improved systems for identifying unauthorized workers in the U.S. workforce and those entering the United States. In Congress, I have supported legislation to direct more resources toward law enforcement and border security. I support the idea of barriers and fencing where the Department of Homeland Security and immigration enforcement authorities believe it will be effective, but the reality is that we cannot build a wall around the whole country. Effective border security also will require additional border personnel and the application of new technologies that support border and port surveillance.
Fourth, we need to invest in the nation's civil defense. I supported the effort to turn the 9/11 Commission's recommendations into law. The legislation, which was signed by the President in August 2007, will enhance our civil defense through improvement of the communication systems used by first responders and will increase security at our borders and ports. The legislation also requires law enforcement agencies to share intelligence more effectively.
Fifth, we must address the problem of nuclear proliferation. It is not in our national security interest to see more countries around the world acquiring nuclear weapons. That is why I have been a consistent advocate of the so-called "Nunn-Lugar" program that is designed to prevent nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union and other unstable countries from falling into the hands of dangerous dictators or terrorists. The "nuclear club" now includes some very unstable nations, including North Korea and Pakistan. Our national security strategy in the 21st Century must be aimed at preventing these countries from exporting nuclear weapons and preventing others (like Iran) from acquiring them in the first place.
Finally, our dependence on foreign oil is a significant threat to our national security. Nearly 25 percent of the world's oil flows through the uncertain and perilous waters of the Persian Gulf. The oil used to fuel our economy is controlled by unstable and unfriendly governments. Our reliance on oil has created a situation in which the nation's economy and our national security are vulnerable to forces outside our control. Clearly, we will never break free from this dependency until we forge a new energy policy. In Congress, as Co-chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I have consistently fought for policies that will diversify our nation's energy portfolio, increase the use of renewable energy sources, and reduce our dangerous over-reliance on foreign oil.
Colorado contributes a great deal to our national security. Since first being elected to Congress in 1999, I have built a strong relationship with the men and women serving at Colorado's military installations at Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, NORTHCOM/NORAD, Schriever Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, and the Air Force Academy, as well as with Colorado's National Guard. I have also developed deep ties to the Air Force Academy while serving as a member of the Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors. I am proud of the strong contacts I've made among Colorado's military community, and as your United States Senator, I will continue to support the needs of our men and women in uniform.