President Obama On the Issues
A Hutchinson Report News Special Series
This is the first in a week long Hutchinson Report News special series on President Obama's position and actions on the major foreign and domestic policy issues. The issue spotlighted today is defense. Monday we will spotlight energy.
"Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values. And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world."
The Obama Administration is investing in a strong, agile, well-trained, and well-equipped U.S. military that can fight and win the nation’s wars. U.S. Armed Forces must be able to prevail in current operations and the missions they are most likely to face, while developing capabilities to deter potential adversaries and provide a hedge against other risks and contingencies. Our policies will incorporate lessons from our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. First and foremost, we will ensure that our troops have the training, equipment and support that they need when they are deployed, and the care that they and their families need and deserve.
The National Security Strategy, released May 27, 2010, lays out a strategic approach for advancing American interests, including the security of the American people, a growing U.S. economy, support for our values, and an international order that can address 21st century challenges.
Take Care of Our Troops, Military Families, and Veterans
On August 5, 2011 President Obama announced new commitments to servicemembers and veterans that will provide a comprehensive plan to lower veteran unemployment and ensure that servicemembers leave the military career-ready through hiring tax credits, private sector commitments, and reforms that improve the way we prepare, train, and educate servicemembers for life after the military. The commitment to America's veterans includes:
- Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits: A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans (maximum credit of $2,400 for every short-term unemployed hire and $4,800 for every long-term unemployed hire) and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit which will increase the existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed long-term (maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran) and continue the existing credit for all other veterans with a service-connected disability (maximum credit of $4,800).
- A Challenge to the Private Sector to Hire or Train 100,000 Unemployed Veterans or Their Spouses by the End of 2013: The President challenged businesses to commit to hire or provide training to unemployed veterans or their spouses. In August of 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Joining Forces initiative had blown past that goal -- 2,000 private sector businesses had already hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses.
- Presidential Call for a Career-Ready Military: The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, working closely with other agencies and the President’s economic and domestic policy teams, will lead a new task force to develop reforms to ensure that every member of the service receives the training, education, and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or to pursue higher education. These reforms will include the design of a “reverse bootcamp,” which will extend the transition period to give service members more counseling and guidance and leave them career-ready.
- Transition to the Private Sector: President Obama worked with Congress to create tax credits to help put veterans back to work. New online tools are available to aid their search for jobs, and the Administration has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and the private sector to make it easier to connect our veterans with companies that want to hire them. The President has also proposed the Veterans Jobs Corps, with a goal of putting 20,000 servicemembers to work rebuilding American infrastructure and serving as cops and firefighters.
- Expand Ground Forces to Meet Military Needs and Improve Quality of Life: Increasing end strength in the Army and Marine Corps will help units retrain and re-equip properly between deployments, reduce the strain on military families, and help put an end to stop loss. We also plan to halt end strength reductions in the Air Force and Navy.
Lighten Burdens on Our Brave Troops and Their Families: Those in uniform are not the only ones who serve; military families are a top priority for this Administration. The President has announced plans to raise military pay and continue providing quality child-care, job-training for spouses, and expanded counseling and outreach to families that have known the separation and stress of war. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have launched the Joining Forces initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
Rebalance Defense Capabilities for the 21st Century
- Institutionalize Irregular Warfare Capabilities: We must ensure our troops have the equipment they need to prevail in current operations, including assets that provide critical information, protection, and mobility. We will increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support for troops in the field and research and development. We will increase spending on helicopters and crews and grow U.S. Special Operations capabilities.
- Preserve Air Supremacy: We must preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, quickly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces. We intend to make a greater investment in advanced technology and essential systems like fifth-generation F-35 fighters.
- Maintain Dominance at Sea: We must recapitalize our naval forces, replacing aging ships and modernizing existing platforms, while adapting them to the 21st century. We will focus on increasing naval capabilities that support presence, stability and counterinsurgency operations in coastal regions.
- Missile Defense: To better protect our forces and those of our allies, we intend to field more of our most capable theater missile defense systems, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System and Standard Missile 3 programs, and convert additional Aegis ships to increase ballistic missile defense capabilities.
- Space: The full spectrum of U.S. military capabilities depends on our space systems. To maintain our technological edge and protect assets in this domain, we will continue to invest in next-generation capabilities such as operationally responsive space and global positioning systems. We will cooperate with our allies and the private sector to identify and protect against intentional and unintentional threats to U.S. and allied space capabilities.
- Cyberspace: U.S. national security also depends on a functioning and resilient cyber domain. The United States will lead international and domestic efforts to ensure the security of the global information infrastructures continue to invest in cyberspace, and increase collaboration with the private sector and allies to protect this critical domain.
Reform Procurement, Acquisition, and Contracting
Our economic circumstances require a change in the way we acquire military equipment and services. The Administration intends to stop programs that are not performing and significantly exceed their budget or that spend limited taxpayer dollars to buy more capability than the nation needs. We will ensure that requirements are reasonable and technology is available to affordably meet programs’ cost and schedule goals. We intend to realistically estimate program costs, provide budget stability for the programs we initiate, adequately staff the government acquisition team, and provide disciplined and effective oversight.
Develop and Resource Strategies to Succeed in Current Conflicts
- Afghanistan: The President’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will ensure that all elements of national power are engaged and integrated in an effort to defeat al Qaeda to prevent attacks on the homeland and on our Allies and partners. We are asking our friends and allies to join us with a renewed commitment. We also will regularly assess the progress of our efforts and those of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan through clear measurements to ensure ongoing informed accountability.
- Iraq: Because of the skilled efforts of our troops and commitment of the Iraqi people to building a better life through a peaceful political process, violence in Iraq has reduced substantially. Because of this, the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.
- Communicate the Full Costs of Our Operations: The American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations. We will move away from ad hoc funding of long-term commitments through supplemental and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending.
Strengthen Our Alliances and Partnerships
We are committed to strengthening existing alliances and partnerships and building new ones to confront current challenges. Additionally, to boost global partnership capacity, we will support funding to allow the increased training and equipping of foreign militaries to undertake counter terrorism and stability operations. As the threat posed by al Qaeda is international in scope; the response should also be international.
Use All Elements of American Power
To meet today’s challenges, the United States must harness our military, diplomatic, economic, information, legal, and moral strength in an integrated and balanced fashion. The President is committed to building our civilian national security capacity so that the burden for stability operations is not disproportionately absorbed by our military. In Afghanistan, in particular, we will employ the necessary civilian resources to build Afghan governance capacity and self-sufficiency.