America entered the 21st Century as the guarantor of the liberal international order and with the strategic advantage of being the world's leading economic and military power. For decades, preserving this global peace and prosperity required a strong, innovative economy, forward-deployed global military presence, robust military alliances, close intelligence partnerships with allied governments, and active diplomacy.
Today, a mere fifteen years into the 21st Century, this American-led international order is at risk. The U.S. faces a stark choice: rebuild our military, repair our alliances, and restore our leadership in order to preserve this hard-won peace and prosperity or continue to allow our global influence and leverage to erode in the face of growing dangers.
Consequences of Operating in a "Strategy Free Environment"
The global strategic environment today is more dangerous than at any point since the Cold War. The spread of radical Islamist terror groups, the rise of unfriendly regional competitors, the continuing challenges of nuclear proliferation, the ever growing dangers of cyber threats, and the prospect of continuing state failure in key regions of the world are just some of the perils facing the United States, its allies, and friends at the dawn of this new century. What has magnified these dangers is the absence of a coherent U.S. strategy for confronting them these past seven years--a weakness further exacerbated by the diminishing U.S. defense budget, the sorry record of neglecting our alliances, and the loss of credibility resulting from levying empty threats.
Since President Obama took office in 2009, the terrorist threat has only grown, and al Qaeda, ISIS, and other like-minded terrorist groups continue to plot attacks against America, our allies, and our friends, with the horrific attacks just days ago in Paris as the most recent reminder.
Iran -- the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism -- continues its efforts to achieve regional hegemony, support terrorism, destabilize its neighbors, expand its illegal missile programs, threaten Israel, and repress its own population. The reckless nuclear deal with Iran has not thwarted Iran's nuclear ambitions; it has only delayed its path to a bomb.
Multiple states within the Greater Middle East have failed or are failing, notably Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya -- all embroiled in burgeoning violence with no end in sight. These conflicts threaten regional stability, as well as the security of key American allies and partners such as Israel, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt. This violence and radicalism has also spilled out of the Middle East into Europe, and in such an interconnected world may threaten our homeland.
Out of the chaos of Syria and Iraq, ISIS has grown in strength, and in just the past couple years has taken control of vast swaths of territory, destroying state institutions and stoking sectarian violence in countries whose territory they openly occupy.
The return of ambitious competitors confronts us with the challenge of dealing with dangerous states in addition to numerous sub-state threats. Putin's Russia, emboldened by our weakness, intimidates its neighbors, invaded Ukraine, increased its cyberwarfare activities, represses its own citizens, and is pursuing aggressive intervention in the Middle East.
China's dramatic economic development has offered Beijing the opportunity to play a constructive role in promoting regional and global stability. It has also fueled a vastly expanded military strength, which many experts fear emboldens its illegitimate claims of sovereignty over international waters and poses a growing risk to Japan, Southeast Asia, and India. Notwithstanding recent diplomatic initiatives, China's growing military power threatens Taiwan and the ability of its people to choose their own future.
A nuclear-armed North Korea continues to pursue erratic and aggressive policies that could destabilize northeast Asia. The Iranian nuclear program has now been legitimized as a result of Barack Obama's nuclear deal, and it will continue to pose a long-term danger to Israel, our friends in the Arab world, and over time, beyond the Middle East as well. Pakistan's nuclear weapons program is growing rapidly and its delivery systems can now reach Israel as well. Russia's nuclear and missile modernization efforts not only enhance Russia's offensive strike capabilities, but also likely violate its international treaty obligations. China continues its own impressive nuclear weapons modernization effort and the endpoint of that effort is not in sight.
Amidst these growing dangers, the risks to state stability in key regions continue unabated. A resurgent Taliban threatens to undo years of progress and a fragile stability in Afghanistan. Mixed signals and tepid commitment to our Afghan partners have raised questions about America's credibility and commitment to Afghanistan's security, emboldening an insurgency once thought to be on the ropes. Similar dangers are manifest in countries as far apart as Iraq and Nigeria.
Closer to home, corruption, narcotics trafficking, trans-national organized crime, and growing violence threaten stability in Central America and the Western Hemisphere, undermining economic opportunities, spurring mass migration and extending the reach of narco-traffickers and violent criminal networks into our own cities.
It is clear that America's next President must have a new strategy to provide for the common defense in the face of an increasingly insecure and dangerous global environment.
Governor Bush's Four-Part Strategy
The first and most sacred obligation of the U.S. Government is to provide for the common defense, an enumerated responsibility in the Constitution. It requires, among other things, the development of a national security strategy that reaffirms the importance of active U.S. global leadership; the reversal of the massive military cuts enacted by both President Obama and Congress; and the reform of the Defense Department for the more effective implementation of U.S. military modernization. To advance these objectives, Governor Bush will pursue a four-part strategy.
1. Restore International Order & Promote International Stability
2. Rebuild the Military to Defend American Interests & Values
3. Reform the Pentagon
4. Defend the Homeland
These four objectives are described below along with a specific plan to successfully achieve each.
1. Restore International Order & Promote International Stability
U.S. leadership is required to repair key alliances and partnerships that are essential for restoring the post-World War II international security system so critical for creating a stable and secure environment. This means renewed attention to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has been weakened by shrinking defense budgets and strategic incoherence, and bilateral alliances and partnerships from the Western Hemisphere to the Indo-Pacific, where allies fear diminishing American military capability and will to confront aggression. It means a revitalized U.S. military presence in regions of strategic interest to the United States. And it means the United States and its allies will hold accountable aggressors who threaten international peace and stability.
The task of safeguarding international peace and security does not fall on the United States alone, but without U.S. leadership it will not happen.
Restore Alliances. America's alliance system is a source of national strength and a crucial means by which we promote our economic and security interests, as well as our values abroad. Yet many allies and friends question American commitments and resolve today. Whether by failing to enforce our red line after Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, or responding tepidly when Russia invaded Ukraine, or when ISIS overran large swaths of Iraq, America's reliability is questioned. So too is our credibility in Asia, where a much touted "pivot" or "rebalance" seems increasingly hollow.
As president, Governor Bush will repair these alliances and restore military readiness. Governor Bush will also exercise diplomatic and economic tools against those who threaten international peace and stability, and he will uphold America's commitments to support our allies and partners. These treaty obligations must be supported by force deployments, a greater overseas presence, and stronger surge capabilities.
Bolster U.S. commitment to Europe, particularly in the Baltics and Poland. Governor Bush would pursue a more robust presence on NATO's eastern frontier to more credibly deter growing threats to those allies. We should also lead consultations within NATO on how to realign NATO forces to meet the growing security challenges we face as an alliance. In light of growing dangers from Russia in the East and terrorism from North Africa and the Middle East, Governor Bush believes the Trans-Atlantic alliance is more important than ever for U.S. national security.
To address the unconventional threats Russia poses, we should return a U.S. Army Special Forces Group to Europe. U.S. Special Forces should focus on improving the local defenses and popular resistance forces of NATO frontline states, especially the Baltic states threatened by Russian aggression. The U.S. and its allies should more frequently conduct naval exercises in the Black and Baltic Seas to signal U.S. and allied resolve and presence in the face of further Russian provocations.
Increase our presence, restore alliances, and build partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. For nearly 70 years, a forward-deployed U.S. presence in support of our long-standing alliances has kept the peace in the Asia-Pacific. The United States military has played an integral role in ensuring the world's most heavily trafficked waterways remain open and free to international commerce. This stability and security has helped to make this region an engine of global economic growth whose continued development is key to our own economic growth.
In light of the growing challenge posed to U.S. and allied interests in the region by China's military buildup and increased assertiveness, the United States will strengthen ties among our allies and partners to deter aggression and threats to stability or freedom of navigation.
We will also need to repair our alliances and restore our credibility, including by increasing our capabilities and presence in the region to compensate for the hollowness of the Obama/Clinton "rebalance." To do so, we must provide our forces with the budgets, equipment, and stockpiles they need to do their job whether deterring adversaries, training partners, or responding to major national disasters.
We must sustain a sufficiently robust maritime capability and presence in the region so that, in concert with key allies such as Japan and Australia and with partners such as India, we can ensure the entire Indo-Pacific remains a peaceful international waterway and a region of strong economic growth.
Counter Iranian Aggression, Hasten Assad's exit in Syria, Defeat ISIS, and Restore stability in Iraq and Syria. The United States must have a comprehensive strategy not merely to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, but also to confront Iranian aggression, terrorism, and malign activities that have stoked such sectarian violence and destabilized the region. To accomplish this, the U.S. will have to repair broken alliances and partnerships, above all with Israel.
To defeat ISIS and stabilize Iraq and Syria, as Governor Bush advocated in a speech at the Reagan Library, the U.S. should deploy U.S. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) and other special operations forces to work with Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribes, Syrian moderate rebels, and Kurdish forces to ensure their ability to call in U.S. airstrikes in support of local forces' ground operations. He would also implement a no-fly zone to stop Assad's barrel bombings that are fueling the conflict and creating a humanitarian catastrophe, and he would work with partners to establish safe zones in Syria to alleviate the pressure mass migrations have imposed on neighboring countries like Jordan.
Governor Bush would strengthen cooperation between U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council special operations forces. And he would affirm America's commitment to maintain a sufficient military force in Afghanistan to advise and support Afghan security forces until the Taliban is defeated.
Governor Bush also believes that for the duration of the war against radical Islamic terrorism, we will require a secure place to detain captured battle-hardened terrorists so they do not return to the fight. We have such a facility, and the President should end his political obsession with closing Guantanamo Bay and instead focus on winning the war. Governor Bush would keep the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open unless and until a suitable alternative is found.
Improve America's Efforts to Build Partner Capacity and Train Foreign Militaries and Security Services. Despite bipartisan agreement that it is preferable to empower local forces to provide security so that large numbers of American forces need not be deployed far from our shores, our record in training foreign security forces to provide stability is not a good one. If we are to help our friends provide for their own security, we're going to need to do better than the Syria train and equip program that fielded 50 fighters at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Whether in the Western Hemisphere, the Sahel, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, or Southeast Asia, we must improve our capacity to train, mentor, and build long-term relationships with foreign security forces so that we do have trusted, moderate, and effective partners on the ground.
2. Rebuild the Military to Defend American Interests & Values
Rebuilding the military means putting an end to senseless military cuts in the Budget Control Act and sequestration. Governor Bush would make certain our warfighters are prepared to go into battle at any time and with every advantage. We must maintain America's crucial edge in power projection, strike capabilities, and logistics. As Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the large Florida national guard --and a state with an enormous military presence-- he understands the benefits of a strong national defense and the unique needs of those who keep us safe. Restoring our Armed Forces and rebuilding faith with our troops starts with reversing defense cuts enacted by President Obama and Congress.
Reverse Reductions in U.S. Army End-Strength, Fully Fund Readiness, and Invest in Needed Future Capabilities. No service's soldiers have carried a heavier burden recently than the Army, who have borne the most casualties in war over the past fifteen years. The Army has also been hit with the deepest budget cuts by far. The Army is headed toward an Active Duty force of 450,000 by 2018, which is simply too small to protect our interests. Governor Bush's plan would grow Army Active Component end-strength back to 490,000.
Ensure a Marine Corps Ready to Respond to Crises. Governor Bush's plan would increase Active end-strength back to 186,000 Marines to generate sufficient forces to meet crisis response requirements. The plan would end the recent situation in which nearly 50 percent of USMC non-deployed units are not prepared to fight.
Increase Naval Firepower and Readiness. The Chief of Naval Operations has testified that the size of the Navy is inadequate to meet current threats. Many sailors are spending far more time at sea than normal, due to backlogs in maintenance and shortage of ships. Governor Bush will seek to increase the fleet size based on national security needs and priorities, taking into account the evolving threat, in order to maintain existing U.S. force projection advantages. He would commit to building two Virginia-class submarines annually. He would halt the mothballing of certain ships, such as cruisers, slated for premature retirement due to budget cuts. And rather than put airmen and sailors in range of advanced radar and missile systems, Governor Bush will explore new longer range conventional strike options.
Increasing the Striking Power of the Air Force. After several decades of relative neglect, the Air Force's bomber fleet is now the smallest and oldest it has ever been. Only 20 B-2 stealth bombers are capable of penetrating integrated air defense systems being fielded and exported by countries like Russia and China. Even today's most advanced fighter aircraft lack the range needed to operate from bases located beyond the reach of enemy missiles and lack the payload to deliver sufficient weapons.
Governor Bush's plan would increase the planned production rate of the next generation stealth bombers, a cornerstone of America's ability to fight and win, to ensure a force of at minimum 100 bombers.
As the Air Force is suffering from a shortage of deliverable offensive power, his plan would study the feasibility of a high-altitude, medium-to-long endurance persistent ISR/strike system to complement the new long range bomber. An exportable version of this system could provide needed deterrent power to allies like Israel, Japan, and Australia.
Governor Bush believes that it is wrong to send pilots into harm's way flying aircraft that are several decades old. He would increase the combat fleet by continuing with the F-35 program, but also would explore other options for air supremacy. This could include restoring the F-22 line or accelerating development of a new air superiority combat system. It has been decades since an American rifleman was attacked by an enemy aircraft. Air supremacy is vital. His plan would reverse the recent atrophy in air superiority capabilities.
A Safe, Secure, Reliable Nuclear Deterrent. After more than six years pursuing an approach to nuclear weapons that seeks major near-term reductions in U.S. nuclear forces and their eventual elimination, the Obama Administration has weakened U.S. strategic nuclear forces at a time when other nuclear states are modernizing their nuclear forces and when the number of nuclear-armed states may expand in the coming decades.
For several decades, the U.S. has delayed modernization of the nuclear triad. These decisions have caught up to us, with a wave of equipment reaching the end of its service life. Governor Bush recognizes that nuclear deterrence is the backbone of U.S. national security, and will take the necessary steps to rebuild a safe, secure, and modern nuclear deterrent.
3. Reform the Pentagon
The Defense Department's process for buying weapons and services is broken. It is bloated with bureaucratic clutter. There are too many managers and not enough doers. The number of headquarter staffs and civilian personnel have exploded. Irrelevant requirements drive up costs and create an environment that is so regulatory-heavy, it is prohibitive to small businesses. Competition is lacking. And many new weapons the Pentagon fields have come in billions of dollars over-budget, years later than scheduled, and without the combat capability that our troops actually need. Many have been outright canceled, wasting billions of dollars in the process.
Clear Lines of Accountability in Acquisitions. One example of this problem can be seen in how the Pentagon has abandoned clear lines of authority and accountability for managing major procurement programs. The size and layers of civilian offices, agencies, and military staffs has steadily grown, resulting in severe bureaucratic bloat. That has slowed down the process, eroded accountability, and frustrated the system's participants. Most critically, it has delayed the delivery of vital equipment to American forces who are in harm's way, or are operating weapons that are straining under decades of age.
To correct this, the Pentagon must provide clear decision-making authority and personal accountability to manage major programs. The service secretary, who has the essential levers of control (including power over assignments, promotions, retirements, and expenditures) should have ultimate authority, with the service chiefs providing military advice and having a role sufficient to ensure that these programs provide needed combat capability.
One person must have clear responsibility for each major program and authority to manage it--with his tenure aligned with major "milestone" investment decisions.
Another problem is that large acquisition programs tend to be supported by poorly defined operational requirements and unrealistic performance expectations. Under those circumstances, the "requirements generation process" for many systems has not been traceable, defensible or repeatable as they should be, subjecting them to a high risk of "requirements creep" or "gold-plating." Governor Bush would direct the Pentagon to simplify their requirements for new weapons in order to get them into the hands of the warfighter in a timely manner.
Create More Competition among Defense Suppliers. Because of the gradual contraction in the industrial base, the Pentagon lacks a fundamental tool to drive affordability and ensure the availability of the latest advances in technology. After the end of the Cold War, with its 70% reduction in procurement funding, the Pentagon encouraged consolidation among top-tier contractors. That process went much too far, with some 50 prime contractors merging into only a handful of large companies.
To address this, the Pentagon must aggressively introduce competition into its efforts to develop and manufacture major weapon systems wherever possible. Competition is the key to affordability and innovation.
Also, regulatory barriers that discourage cutting-edge technology companies from doing business with the Pentagon must be reconsidered and, where necessary, removed. For example, the Navy requires that all new purchases be certified resistant to saltwater. As a result, even their software purchases must meet this irrelevant certification requirement.
Reform Management at the Department of Defense. The United States is facing increasing dangers from emerging and existing threats around the world but is allowing its military capabilities to be restrained due to self-imposed budget pressures. Congress, outside observers, and multiple Secretaries of Defense identified numerous opportunities to address this issue by improving management and processes at the Department of Defense. Yet progress has been modest, at best.
There are many sacred cows in the Pentagon, and in an era of political gridlock, it often seems too hard to accomplish what is necessary. Yet there is hope. In the 1990s, the Pentagon civilian workforce was cut by 38% and numerous reforms were introduced. This shows what is possible.
Cut Administrative Costs. Despite the fact that the Department of Defense spends more than $100 billion a year on clerical, administrative, and management costs, there are useful comparisons to the private sector where implementing best practices can result in substantial productivity gains. This would result in savings that could invigorate neglected defense capabilities.
Reduce the Civilian Workforce. DoD should focus on the civilian workforce and the outside contractor base. There are approximately 720,000 civilian personnel in the workforce. This reflects a dramatic increase in manpower that has outpaced the growth in military personnel. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report found the Army Staff rose more than 60% since 2001, while uniformed military decreased. The Pentagon should begin to address this overgrowth by trimming redundant agencies as well as by enacting a program consisting of early retirements and voluntary separation packages that can free up money for uniformed military and combat operations.
Reduce DOD Spending on Headquarters. The Department of Defense will spend over $40 billion on high-level headquarters. These include Combatant Commands and their Service component commands, the military department headquarters (e.g. Army or Navy), and staffs supporting the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These are costly enterprises with many senior people, elaborate facilities and extensive support (e.g. cars and planes). This cost is nearly as large as or greater than the entire military budgets of some of our NATO allies.
Deep cuts in these headquarters' staffs and their associated facilities and support would free up billions of dollars to help modernize our forces and enhance readiness. It would also speed decision processes and enhance the agility and responsiveness of our forces by eliminating needless layers and reviews.
The new Secretary of Defense should establish a small task force of experienced business people and retired senior military officers to review and recommend actions to cut and reconfigure bloated headquarters. Leaders of industrial companies have experience in making deep cuts in overhead expenses when dictated by business conditions. Retired senior military officers can assess the impact of change and ensure critical functions are spared and new structures will work effectively, supporting the Secretary of Defense and the President.
The goal would be a 20% reduction, freeing up billions to support critical defense programs. The effort would be short and intense. Final recommendations would be made within 6 months, with implementation complete one year later.
4. Defend the Homeland
Protecting the homeland, advancing U.S. interests abroad, and protecting American allies in the face of 21st Century threats and a globalized economy will require more than erecting walls and policing our shores. It requires restoring our intelligence capabilities, securing our national infrastructure, defending our borders, and combatting radical Islamic extremism at home and abroad. At the Reagan Library in August 2015, Governor Bush laid out his vision for defeating ISIS and combatting radical Islamic terrorism.
Governor Bush's Plan to Protect the Homeland
Secure the Border. Securing the border is possible, but it will require Washington to move beyond divisive rhetoric. Governor Bush's plan for securing the border and enforcing our immigration laws includes the following six steps.
1. Establish an effective, forward-leaning Border Patrol with the flexibility to deploy resources to meet threats.
2. Use new technologies to achieve continuous surveillance of the border.
3. Bolster border infrastructure -- including physical barriers -- and improve access to federal lands.
4. Require electronic verification of employment eligibility (E-Verify).
5. Identify and expatriate those overstaying their visas or otherwise violating the terms of their admission.
6. Crack down on sanctuary cities that undermine efforts to enforce immigration laws. Finding a practical solution to the status of the people who are here illegally today is a nonstarter if our borders are not secure against future illegal immigration.
Protect Vital Infrastructure. An important element of the federal response strategy to disasters or attack is working with federal, state, local, and private sector partners to ensure our infrastructure is ready and able to recover quickly when an event occurs.
A key barrier to investing now is that many decision makers, both those in federal office as well as at state and local community level, struggle to apply the time and resources to fully protect critical infrastructure when the benefits and return on investment cannot be clearly realized in the foreseeable future. In order to have the right attention and focus on critical infrastructure resilience, Governor Bush would foster greater cooperation and coordination between the private sector and government officials across critical infrastructure sectors. The purpose would be to connect those in government whose mission involves strategic leadership with CEOs who have the ability to set priorities, motivate action, and achieve results. This will also help identify additional critical resources and interdependencies across sectors that must be taken into consideration.
The focus would be on survivability and the continuation of the American way of life. This may include aerostats with communication systems, water purification systems, and solar powered command centers -- which can contribute to the quick response and recovery of an emergency situation.
Restore the Intelligence Community. Our intelligence agencies are increasingly overburdened, underfunded, and struggling to respond to technological advances by adversaries and leaks of sensitive information. This is an enormous challenge.
The cornerstone of any effective military or counterterrorism strategy is ensuring accurate, timely, and actionable intelligence. Neither special operators in the field nor law enforcement at home can protect America against the growing terrorist threat without adequate intelligence capabilities. The backbone of U.S. intelligence is its talented corps of professionals, who work tirelessly in the shadows to support the warfighter and protect our safety and security. They do not deserve to be demonized by politicians, but rather must be provided with the capabilities needed to keep America safe. These cutting-edge technologies can be found in our commercial industry and the defense industrial base, where the world's best research and development reside. Governor Bush would be committed to ensuring these professionals have everything they need to get the job done.
Fully Reauthorize the Patriot Act. Giving our intelligence community the tools they need to protect the homeland is of vital importance. As he called for months ago, Governor Bush would restore Section 215 of the Patriot Act to ensure that we have a technological ability to connect the dots between known foreign terrorists and potential operatives here in the United States. This important and carefully overseen program appropriately protected privacy and civil liberties, and if we give up our advantages over our enemies, we risk putting the freedoms we hold most dear at risk.
Cyber Security for the 21st Century. Governor Bush recognizes that the cyber realm is the new frontier of U.S. security, communications, and prosperity. Cybersecurity should be a critical element of our national defense, economic wellbeing, and national resilience. Governor Bush will mobilize public and private resources to ensure our critical infrastructure, networks, and communications remain secure. These efforts will help guarantee America remains on top throughout the ongoing technological and communications revolutions that will transform fundamental aspects of our world, economy, and society. In September, Governor Bush laid out a detailed cyber security plan that would help the United States protect our critical information systems and preserve the freedom and security of the internet.