A Unified Security Budget for the United States, 2007

As it is portrayed in the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy doctrine, our military is a co-equal partner with our diplomatic corps, our development agency and our homeland security department. The text speaks of pursuing national security by championing aspirations for human dignity, strengthening alliances, defusing regional conflicts, and expanding development. In the section on “key national security institutions,” the Department of Defense (DOD) is third on the list.

This portrayal is possible because the document makes no mention of budgets. Even excluding what we will spend this year on the wars we are actually fighting, our regular military budget will absorb six times the money we will spend on all non-military security tools–including diplomacy, foreign aid, nonproliferation, and homeland security–put together. When war spending is included, the gap jumps to more than eight to one.

The rhetoric of our national security strategy needs to be connected to its budgetary reality. To this end, this task force of security experts recommends that the federal budget documents presented to Congress include a Unified Security Budget (USB) drawing together in one place all the categories of national security spending, including tools for:

  • Offense (primarily our military forces);
  • Defense (homeland security); and
  • Prevention (primarily international affairs including diplomacy, nonproliferation and foreign aid).

This would provide members of Congress and others with the kind of macro-level comprehensive view that they need in order to make effective decisions concerning our national security priorities.

Voices from across the political spectrum have begun to question the current balance of our security dollars. One of neo-conservatism’s leading theorists, Francis Fukuyama, has now declared that his movement’s problem lies principally with its over-militarized approach to achieving its foreign policy ends. He writes of the enormous “structural imbalance” in global power derived from U.S. “defense spending nearly equal to that of the rest of the world combined.” The principal solution, in his view: “we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments.”

This report shows how this can be done. It identifies nearly $62 billion in cuts to the regular defense budget mostly to weapons systems that have scant relevance to the threats we face, and therefore can be eliminated or scaled back with no sacrifice to our security because the war in Iraq is funded by supplemental appropriations. And it identifies $52 billion to be added to the budgets for the tools of defense and prevention. This shift would partially demilitarize our national security strategy by turning the current six-to-one military-to-non-military balance into a better balance of three to one. That is, it would double the proportional amount our government devotes to its non-military security tools. It would bring our spending more in line with the rhetoric of the president’s own national security strategy.

Key finding: The recent flare-up of concern over foreign management of U.S. ports creates an opening for the real issues of port security to be given the attention they deserve. Though the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that weapons of mass destruction are most likely to enter the United States by sea, we will spend four times more deploying a missile defense system that has failed most of its tests than we will spend on port security.

Key finding: Hurricane Katrina displayed how under-prepared the United States is for protecting critical domestic infrastructure and mitigating the effects of a catastrophic event. Yet remarkably, the administration’s budget decreases funds to cities and states for critical infrastructure protection and first responders by 26 percent.

Key finding: The Sept. 11 commission concluded that “preventing terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction must be elevated above all other problems of national security.” The Bush administration’s budget for threat reduction and nonproliferation, at approximately $1.3 billion, falls far short of this standard.

Key finding: One benchmark for improvement cited in last year’s version of this report has been met. The administration’s budget request funds the account for Diplomatic and Consular Affairs slightly higher than its account for Foreign Military Financing. However, total foreign military assistance–more than $8 billion–outstrips the combined totals for diplomatic affairs and Embassy security, construction and maintenance, at $6.2 billion.

Key finding: Favoring its own programs over collective approaches that coordinate the work of international donors, the administration has cut its contribution to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, while increasing funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Yet the Global Fund delivers assistance to eight times as many countries, including those with the fastest-rising infection rates. PEPFAR also prohibits the use of generic drugs, which means that fewer people will be treated, at higher cost.

Key finding: In one of the rare points of consensus at the UN World Summit in September 2005, member states supported the establishment of a UN Peacebuilding Commission to devise strategies for post-conflict situations, including coordinating the work of international actors and supporting the country’s own recovery planning. The Bush administration expressed support for the concept, but did not include any money for it in this year’s budget request. The Task Force recommends an initial voluntary contribution of $500 million.

II. Introduction

Ever since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, security has consistently polled at the top of the American public’s list of concerns. Reasons for concern include terrorism, the spread of nuclear and biological weapons, and global contagious diseases such as avian flu. Despite the enduring presence of “United We Stand” signs on American bumper stickers and billboards, however, there is no unity about how greater security is to be achieved. Most divisive of all is the invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq, which the administration has defined as the centerpiece of its war on terrorism, ignoring the fact that its invasion made it a central front.

The closest Americans have come to a bipartisan consensus on strengthening U.S. national security has been their widespread admiration for the Sept. 11 commission and its best-selling book of recommendations. The commission recommended “a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military,” and admonished the President and the Congress to fund the “full range” of non-military as well as military security tools.

Unlike most commissions, this one persisted in tracking the implementation phase. This past December, a subgroup of the commission issued its final report card, assigning a collection of dismal grades. The National Journal analyzed the common threads in the cited reasons for failure, and found mostly issues of process: number one, “a Congress resistant to institutional change.” Congress had for example rejected the commission’s proposal to give a single bicameral committee the power to fund the intelligence budget. Too many congressmen, in charge of too many committees, according to this analysis, saw such a change as a threat to their power.

The mismatch between House and Senate subcommittees only serves to further complicate an already inefficient legislative process. And it does nothing to limit Congress’ ability to burden national security appropriations bills with spending for special interest projects that do not advance national security. Two years ago our task force of security experts identified one possible catalyst for change: a Unified Security Budget pulling together all the spending categories comprising the “full range” of military and non-military security tools:

  • Offense (primarily our military forces);
  • Defense (homeland security); and
  • Prevention (primarily international affairs including diplomacy, nonproliferation and foreign aid).

This budget would give Congress a look at the big picture, and provide the basis for a better debate over this nation’s security priorities. It would be a tool of decision-making about cost-effective trade-offs across agency lines. For example, the administration’s budget allocates more money to the deployment of national missile defense interceptors than to the Coast Guard’s entire budget. Security experts agree that among the possible forms of a terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction on the United States, the ballistic missile is the least likely. Among the most likely is through cargo coming into our ports. A Congress seriously examining our overall security priorities should consider whether the money going to deploy interceptors that have shown little sign of working might be better spent strengthening port security. A Unified Security Budget would facilitate that discussion.

We offer here, with the help of an expanded task force, our third iteration of the proposal.

Key Developments in Security Spending

The President submitted a budget that increases spending for non-military as well as military tools. While domestic discretionary spending is cut nearly across the board, international affairs and homeland security and the military all receive spending increases. Indeed, while in absolute terms the increase in spending on offense greatly exceeds the increases to defense and prevention, proportionally the gap has narrowed: last year the proportion of military to non-military tools was 7:1; this year it is 6:1. Yet this is the first budget request since the Sept. 11 attacks in which homeland security received a smaller percentage increase than the Pentagon.

Recent history also suggests that some of these increases are more likely to survive the appropriations process than others. While many weapons systems are protected by a web of subcontracts carefully laid across as many congressional districts as possible, diplomacy, foreign aid and the institutions of international cooperation enjoy no such protections. When Congress finally settled its fiscal affairs for 2006, the international affairs budget had been cut by $2.3 billion below the request level, with Diplomatic and Consular Programs and Contributions to International Organizations taking especially big hits. The administration accepted these cuts with little resistance and no veto threats.

More importantly, the increases in the budget request leave in place the central fact about this president’s foreign affairs spending portfolio: it remains overwhelmingly dominated by a military approach to security. Eighty-three percent of its resources are allocated to the military; about 11 percent to homeland security; and about 6 percent to international affairs.

Breakdown of National Security Spending

Moreover, the administration has planned a trajectory for spending in future years that will widen the gap: following a modest dip through fiscal year (FY) 2008, the defense budget will rise by more than $50 billion through 2011. The budget for non-military security tools, however, stays largely constant during this period.

This trajectory is both unwise and unsustainable. It is unwise because it fails to invest enough in the non-military components of U.S. national security strategy that are essential to fight and prevent terrorism, prevent the spread of nuclear and biological weapons, stabilize weak and failing states, among other key priorities. It is unsustainable because the nation faces record budget deficits. The United States simply cannot afford to waste increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars on unnecessary and underperforming components of American military forces at the expense of the nation’s non-military national security tools.

The preview was different…

In their rhetoric, the Bush administration seems to recognize this reality. In late December, Defense Department officials held briefings for military contractors warning them to brace for cuts to major weapons systems. The Boeing CEO spoke nostalgically about the Pentagon budget as “a great ride for the last five years.”

The budget that DOD released just one month later, in tandem with the four-year blueprint for defense strategy and planning, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) tells a different story. While the QDR speaks in broad and ambitious terms about refocusing defense strategy on unconventional threats, it cuts no major conventional systems; this “transformational” plan continues to include all three new short-range fighter jets, although no challenge to U.S. air superiority is being mounted by anyone, including China. And these weapons that deal with threats from a bygone era continue to absorb the lion’s share of the procurement budget.

The result is a budget that at $439 billion has increased by approximately 27 percent in real terms since Sept. 11. This figure does not include $21.8 billion for Energy Department spending on nuclear weapons activities. Nor does it include spending on the wars we are actually fighting. When these costs are added in, military spending for the coming year will exceed $600 billion–a figure that would exceed both the heights of the Reagan military buildup and the Vietnam War, in inflation-adjusted terms.

Post-WW II U.S. Military Spending

Trend unsustainable

This trend cannot be sustained. The United States now has an annual budget deficit of $427 billion just five years after the country ran a surplus. Congress has just voted to raise the debt ceiling for the fourth time in five years. In the past five years, the Bush administration has increased the national debt by $1.1 trillion. This means that more of our budget is going to pay the interest on that debt every year–an estimated $220 billion in this fiscal year alone. Foreign governments such as China are financing this debt.

Senate testimony from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in November 2005 described the “vast difference between DOD’s budgeting plans and the reality of the cost of its systems,” and the enduring failure of the department to correct the conditions of “fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement” in the acquisitions process.

In December, the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) analyzed Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of the long-term implications of this failure. CSBA concluded that funding the current defense plan may cost $735 billion more over the next 10 years than the budget projects. Adding in the interest costs of $185 billion on this debt, and the gap between these projections and actual costs would amount to an estimated $920 billion. CBSA’s Steven Kosiak noted one possible solution to this budgetary train wreck: the QDR might narrow the gap by scaling down the defense plan. This didn’t happen; numerous budget analysts called attention to the failure of even the 7 percent increase in nominal military spending to cover the cost of the plan laid out by the QDR.

Military power projection and security

The United States needs its military to deter threats and defeat its military adversaries. But the overwhelming majority of the threats facing the country today do not have military solutions. Countering these threats instead requires the United States to marshal the non-military components of the country’s national security toolkit. For instance, while the United States must have the military capability to destroy terrorist training camps, military power will not erode the appeal of terrorism, roll back financial support for terrorists, or deny terrorists access to fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons, or win the war of ideas against the radical jihadists.

Unveiling his department’s budget in early February, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld argued that the increases are necessary to avoid losing superiority over other military powers. The danger of that may be judged by the following measure of U.S. spending relative to those other powers:

Comparative Military Spending

The question is whether the current mix of military and non-military spending makes the best use of taxpayer dollars to make the U.S. and the world more secure. This study argues that it does not.

In particular, this study finds that the DOD’s dogged pursuit of several unnecessary and/or underperforming weapons systems imposes a severe opportunity cost on funding for the non-military tools that the Sept. 11 commission identified as critical to the security of the country.

There is also evidence that some uses of U.S. military power projection have made us less safe. In February 2005, the administration’s newly appointed CIA Director Porter Goss reported to Congress on the result of the United States’ first exercise of its doctrine of preventive war. “Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists,” he said, and those “who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism.”

The United States’ resort to war in defiance of most of the rest of the world has created anti-American sentiment of historically unprecedented scope and intensity. According to Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, National Security Council counterterrorism experts during William Clinton’s administration, our resultant political isolation has obstructed our ability to catalyze international cooperation in law enforcement and intelligence cooperation based on unified, shared commitments to combat terrorism.

III. A Rebalanced and Unified Security Budget

In his State of the Union message this year, the president opposed isolationism as the road to “danger and decline.”The members of this task force agree.

The question is not whether to engage the world, but how. We recommend a rebalancing of our security portfolio to put more emphasis on non-military security tools.

A key factor behind the mismatch between resources and threats is that there is no single budget for national security. Each of the many federal agencies that bear some responsibility for protecting the American people–the departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Treasury–prepares its own budget according to its own assessment of its requirements, in light of the threats and opportunities it perceives. As a result, it is enormously challenging for lawmakers to scrutinize spending requests to identify tradeoffs across programs and identify critical resource gaps and imbalances.

This report is an attempt to remedy this defect.

The budget proposed below is based on the assessment that in order to meet future security requirements the United States must implement a fundamental shift in how it allocates resources. The proposal identifies nearly $62 billion worth of unnecessary or unproductive spending in the Department of Defense. There is never any justification for wasting taxpayer dollars; at a time of mounting budget deficits and unprecedented security challenges, however, wasteful defense spending is reckless and unpatriotic. The report identifies major gaps in national security spending, and recommends redirecting $52 billion towards closing these gaps. This modest change to a $461 billion military budget would shift the balance of military and non-military tools from the current ratio of 6:1 to 3:1. That is, it would double the proportional amount that our government devotes to its non-military security tools.

Military and Nonmilitary Security Funding

As in last year’s version of this report, the programmatic changes outlined in our security portfolio do not quite present a zero sum equation. By leaving a small remainder–this year about $9 billion–the task force intends to acknowledge a number of other critical national priorities. The soaring budget deficit is one. The domestic discretionary budget is another. The programs in this budget cross the spectrum of public services that Americans depend on to safeguard their way of life, including education, environmental protection, transportation, veterans’ health care, medical research, law enforcement, and food and drug safety inspection. Cuts in the FY 07 budget to these programs include a 7 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 14 percent cut in environmental protection spending to state and local governments, a $200 million reduction in nutritional assistance to women, infants and children, and a 9 percent cut in the Department of Education’s budget.

Last year this list of alternative domestic priorities included funding for alternative energy sources. This year’s report reflects a new strong, bipartisan consensus that an energy transition is one of our security imperatives. Funding for this priority has therefore been incorporated into our framework for a rebalanced security portfolio.

With this realignment of resources, this Unified Security Budget reflects a set of priorities that more closely resemble the “comprehensive” approach to security that we need. The remainder of this report documents the case for these priorities.

Realigning Forces

The speed with which our military was able to depose the Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes demonstrates that the United States is capable of using its conventional military forces globally and rapidly. But these conflicts have stretched the U.S. military, particularly U.S. ground forces, to its breaking point. As a result, the United States is currently unprepared to rapidly and decisively respond to unforeseen, additional threats against the homeland or abroad.

The United States faces a diversity of threats to its national security, including terrorists with global reach, extreme regimes such as Iran and North Korea, and the potential spread of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. These threats cannot be ignored, and military options are extremely limited. These threats must be addressed first by diplomatic means.

According to the most reliable estimates, the United States spends twenty-two times more on its military than Russia and more than seven times that of China. These countries are modernizing their militaries, but show no desire to match U.S. conventional military power. Even if one of these countries wanted to match U.S. conventional power, it is by no means certain that it could–at a minimum, it would take a decade or more of significantly higher defense spending just to match U.S. defense budgets, not to mention the difficulty of closing the technological gap with the United States.

Nevertheless, the U.S. national security budget is dominated by weapons systems designed to fight a military peer, and fails to devote sufficient resources to the capabilities that are essential to countering 21st century threats. Although the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review delineates that the two highest priorities for the military are defeating terrorist networks and defending the homeland, at least $22 billion of the current defense budget goes for research, development or procurement of weapons systems that are better designed to defeat a military peer competitor rather than conduct operations against terrorist organizations and extreme regimes. According to Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, the price tag for the Pentagon’s top five procurement programs grew 46 percent over the last four years. These weapons, although technologically advanced, are excessive and uneconomical for the task at hand, or grossly underperforming to a degree that they are unlikely to be effective in combat.

By contrast, it is clear from more than four years of experience in Afghanistan and nearly three years of experience in Iraq that the United States lacks adequate personnel, organizational structure, and expertise to wage a counterinsurgency campaign, extended peacekeeping, or post-conflict reconstruction. The effectiveness with which the Iraqi insurgency has hampered stability operations illustrates that the enemy will exploit this weaknesses to his advantage to discredit U.S. intentions and military image worldwide. Restructuring our force in a manner more responsive to small- and medium-scale interventions and equipping them with weapons and training relevant to counterterrorism, peacekeeping, counterinsurgency, and stability operations will prepare our forces for the challenges that lie ahead.

The United States must restructure the force to deal with 21st century threats. It must:

  • eliminate or scale back poorly performing or economically inefficient weapons systems;
  • restructure the size and composition of force in a manner relevant to current operational demands, and adjust personnel policies to sustain the readiness of the all-volunteer military;
  • control spending for earmarks and manage the weapons systems acquisition process more effectively; and
  • reduce the escalating spending on research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) to historical levels.

Neglected security tools

As the costs of its “preventive war” in Iraq mount–in dollars, lives, and in spurring the growth of terrorism–the Bush administration has now begun speaking in terms of “transformative diplomacy.” For the moment at least, this has meant expressing a willingness to negotiate rather than use military force to address threats of nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea. But so far, the administration hasn’t backed up its rhetoric with resources: the gap between spending on diplomacy, foreign assistance, and other non-military tools of security and the nation’s $461 billion regular military budget is continuing to increase. Increased investments in non-military tools of foreign policy are urgently needed.

This view is now finding new proponents across the political spectrum. Even some conservative evangelicals have begun calling for increases in foreign aid, increased U.S. support for international peacekeeping forces in Darfur, and an alternative energy policy that breaks the stranglehold of repressive regimes over U.S. foreign policy.

And one of neo-conservatism’s leading theorists, Francis Fukuyama notes that the movement’s problem lies principally with its over-militarized approach to achieving its foreign policy ends. He writes of the enormous “structural imbalance” in global power derived from U.S. “defense spending nearly equal to that of the rest of the world combined.” The principal solution, he says: “we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments.

Our Unified Security Budget (USB) provides a blueprint for such a shift, putting new emphasis on cost-effective preventive medicine reducing the need for expensive military cures. As the examples that follow will show, the USB provides a comprehensive approach to the process of budgeting for national security. From securing our ports, to protecting chemical and nuclear plants, to investing in effective foreign assistance, to spending what is needed to secure “loose nukes” as quickly as possible, there are numerous non-military investments that will make us far more secure than primarily relying on military force as the tool for protecting the United States and its allies around the world.

These investments fall into two categories: conflict prevention and homeland defense.

Conflict Prevention

Despite a great deal of rhetoric pouring forth from the administration on the virtues of international cooperation, there has not been much concrete action during the past year to bridge the deep divide between the United States and the rest of the world. The damage done by the administration’s disregard of the post-World War II architecture of universally-binding treaties, norms and institutions to prevent conflict and deter aggression, has not been repaired. There is no progress to report on a reengagement with the International Criminal Court, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Treaty to Ban Landmines, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or a verifiable Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty, to name a few. There is continued stonewalling on the global negotiations on climate change, despite the surge of evidence during the past year arguing for the urgency of doing so. The security problems arising from droughts, food shortages and disease that are forecast if the international community (and in particular the world’s leading carbon producer) fails to act quickly to forestall further global warming, make our current problems look like the proverbial walk in the park.

Leading up to the June-July 2006 United Nations review conference on curbing trade in small arms and light weapons, the administration has indicated support for a few positive proposals: the implementation of a new international instrument, adopted in 2005, for marking and tracing these weapons; and a Transfer Control Initiative to create international guidelines for small arms transfers.Yet the United States continues to oppose any legally-binding measures or limits on civilian ownership, legal trade, or transfers to non-state actors.

The continued U.S. opposition to its fellow nations in one international forum after another has obstructed its ability to form cooperative arrangements in law enforcement and intelligence sharing to fight terrorism. This both prevents the United States from identifying and capturing terrorists as effectively as possible, and from sharing the financial burden of doing so.

Diplomacy is, or ought to be, the principal governmental instrument of U.S. engagement with the world in general, and of conflict prevention in particular. Unfortunately, because of the current imbalance in spending, the military’s regional combatant commanders, or COCOMs, have assumed a larger role since the Cold War ended; in some cases, they’ve assumed the dominant position in negotiations with other nations, relegating the civilian authorities in our embassies to a subordinate role. Revitalizing diplomacy requires restoring U.S. diplomats to their role as the primary points of contact and agents of the nation’s foreign policy by providing them with the appropriate resources.

In addition to saving lives, diplomacy also saves vast sums of money relative to military operations. As a task force member and MIT Security Studies scholar, Cindy Williams points out that the State Department’s entire budget for 2006 is absorbed by less than two months of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Preventing conflict can also save vast sums that must otherwise be spent trying to put functioning societies back together after the conflict is, or appears to be, over. She notes that the United States spent more in 2004 on reconstruction in Iraq than it spent on economic assistance for all other countries combined. And of course, the ongoing and escalating violence has prevented most of that reconstruction money from fulfilling its purposes. A July 2005 study of the situation by the GAO concluded that Iraqi infrastructure was in worse shape than before the war.

It is through U.S. support of economic development assistance that the United States shows its commitment to making the world’s economic benefits more equitably shared. Currently 14 percent of the world’s population, in only 10 countries, consumes 75 percent of the world’s GDP. More than 50 countries are poorer today than they were in 1990.

While the United States spends more on foreign aid than any other nation, as a share of its economy, the nation spends proportionally less than half the average of the countries of Europe, and near the bottom of the world’s major donors.

One-third of this spending, moreover, goes for military aid, mostly underwriting the purchase of U.S. weapons. Generous U.S. support for the victims of last year’s tsunami measurably, if temporarily, raised U.S. approval ratings around the world, particularly in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

In February, a New York Times reporter interviewed the CEO of a textile plant in Pakistan. The interview subject pegged the political extremism in Pakistan to the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and the U.S. response of arming the insurgency, which, he said, turned Pakistan into a front-line state and the home of growing numbers of fundamentalist jihadists. The income gap in the country is huge, also feeding these radical movements; the worker “can’t fathom why Americans aren’t working on the economic conditions that breed discontent,” by, among other things, leveling the playing field for trade. “We don’t need more of your F-16s,” the textile worker said. “What we need is trade in textiles.”

Nonproliferation: By sealing its nuclear deal with India, the Bush administration has seriously weakened the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the key piece of the interlocking set of treaties and institutions that form the global nonproliferation regime.

None of the task force’s recommendations from last year for strengthening this regime, moreover, have been met. They were, and are:

  • Significantly expand the budget for U.S. government efforts to work with Russia and other countries to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons, materials and expertise around the world. Though President Bush has recognized nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist enemy or rogue regime as the top security threat, he nonetheless proposes cutting the government-wide budget for this work by 0.8 percent in FY 07–including a 10.4 percent cut for DOD’s efforts. This lack of urgency is behind the Sept. 11 Public Discourse Project’s decision to assign the United States a “D” grade on the issue of “maximum effort by U.S. government to secure WMD [weapons of mass destruction].” The FY 07 funding request for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) within the Defense Department is 10.4 percent below what Congress approved last year ($415.5 million vs. $372.1 million).
  • Strengthen the norms against proliferation through multilateral regimes. Rather than undermining the NPT, the United States should ratify an IAEA Additional Protocol permitting more rigorous inspections, asking for assurances that all states implement full-scope IAEA safeguards agreements, and increasing its funding for the agency. And the Congress must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which will create a more powerful nonproliferation tool through its intrusive verification regime.
  • Concentrate on more effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including an improved inspection system; resume participation in meetings to develop a biological weapons protocol; and strengthen verification and enforcement obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.
  • Support the UN plan of action to control small arms and the NGO-initiated “Control Arms” treaty proposal, ratify the Anti-Personnel Landmine Treaty, and ratify the Rome Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.
  • Strengthen existing export control authorities, focusing especially on regulating truly sensitive exports to hostile and unstable regimes.

This year the task force has added increased funding for alternative energy to its major recommendations for investments in non-military security tools. A remarkable new consensus, spanning the entire political spectrum, has emerged this year asserting that U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil is a major national security problem. In addition, the evidence is mounting at an alarming rate that the failure to undertake serious measures to curb greenhouse gases is on track to produce security problems of potentially catastrophic proportions. The solutions include doing whatever is necessary to make a rapid transition to alternative sources, in addition to such measures as raising fuel efficiency standards and gasoline taxes and investing in lower- and non-polluting vehicles.

Homeland Defense

The non-military tools of defense comprise homeland security measures to prevent an attack on the homeland and, in the event one occurs, to mitigate its effects.

Although the budget request claims a 6 percent increase in spending for these purposes, in fact more than half of the funds are to come not from federal spending but from user fee increases to airline passengers. Meanwhile, while passengers and their carry-ons come under intense scrutiny, air cargo, with the potential to import materials with vastly more deadly effects, does not.

Hurricane Katrina displayed how under-prepared the United States is for protecting infrastructure and mitigating the effects of a catastrophic event. Yet remarkably, the administration’s budget decreases funds to cities and states for critical infrastructure protection and first responders by 26 percent.

Katrina also underscores how investments in homeland security, in contrast to spending on weapons systems, can carry multiple benefits in addition to the insurance policy they provide. Strengthening public health infrastructure, for example, will enhance quality of life, as well as the ability to deal with natural disasters, and outbreaks of infectious disease.

A more effective approach to security would rebalance the nation’s portfolio of security tools to put greater emphasis on the tools of defense and prevention. Our specific proposal for doing this is laid out in the pages that follow.

IV. Realigning the U.S. Military

In many respects, the President’s 2006 QDR accurately characterized the complex nature of today’s national security environment. It correctly recognized that the United States faces a diverse array of potential military threats, including terrorists with global reach, extremist regimes, such as Iran and North Korea, and the threat posed by the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Additionally, as a result of these threats and a demonstrated failure to rapidly respond to crises within the U.S. borders, it rightly concludes that the Department of Defense has a vital role in homeland defense.

The president’s budget, however, fails to connect the dots between recognized military threats and the military tools necessary to counter those threats. In the five years that the Bush administration has been in office, defense spending has increased 27 percent in real terms, culminating in a FY 07 budget request of $441 billion. When funding for nuclear weapons and related military programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) are included, the total amount of money the United States spends on national defense jumps to $461 billion. This figure does not include any of the supplemental funding appropriated in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately $350 billion. Moreover, the demands of protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have stretched U.S. ground forces in particular to the breaking point.

Compounding these challenges to current readiness is a defense strategy that overemphasizes Cold War-era weapons systems. The president’s FY 07 budget supports funding for a series of very expensive, high-tech weapons–such as the F/A-22 Raptor and the DD(X) Destroyer–best suited for large-scale, conventional warfare against an enemy with power comparable to that of the United States. There is no such threat in existence today and no country–not even China–will be in a position to match U.S. conventional military strength for at least a decade or more. The prevalence of such weapons systems in the defense budget represents a fundamental mismatch between the current threat environment and U.S. military requirements.

If money were no object, there would be less reason to oppose acquisition of these high-cost, cutting edge weapons systems. Considering the looming fiscal crisis facing the nation, however, the United States cannot afford wasteful spending on weapons programs poorly suited for the current threat environment. Instead, greater effort should be made to maximize the national security benefits of proven, cost-effective weapons systems, and trim or eliminate those that have consistently underperformed or that are not relevant to today’s security environment.

This study finds that in order to protect the nation against century threats, the United States must undertake a fundamental shift in military doctrine and budget priorities. Specifically, the United States can make necessary improvements in U.S. national security by better prioritizing national security spending in accordance with the threat environment. The United States should suspend the development or procurement of out-dated or underperforming weapons systems, and reallocate these resources to other national security programs within the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or Department of State. The remainder may be used to bolster domestic programs, such as education and health care, or pay down the federal deficit.

Military Spending

1. National Missile Defense–Cease further deployment but retain a basic research program to determine if NMD is practically feasible, generating $8 billion in savings

The National Missile Defense Program remains one of the more problematic and unjustifiable defense programs. Since concept development in 1983, close to $100 billion dollars has been spent, with limited success–in tests, the system has failed in five out of 11 tests since 2004. Despite this poor record, 12 additional ground-based interceptor missiles are scheduled for deployment in 2007 and the program is forecasted to receive $10.4 billion in funding–a $1.7 billion increase over 2006. Retain a basic research program to determine if NMD is practically feasible, generating $8 billion in savings.

2. F/A 22 Raptor– Suspend acquisition and divert a percentage of current funding ($2.8 billion) into refitting pre-existing aircraft with electronic warfare (EW) technology, generating $2 billion in savings.

The Raptor is an expensive weapon in search of operational relevance. Originally begun in 1986 to contend with an adversary of comparable air power to the United States at a project cost of $149 million per aircraft, the Raptor has been repeatedly re-invented at ever-escalating cost. The end result, with a price-tag now at $339 million per aircraft, is an aircraft too heavy for improved maneuverability, too large to be considered stealth, and only capable of carrying half the payload of the F-117 bomber. Although the Air Force currently owns 63 Raptors and has received authorization for another 40, they have yet to prove their capability in combat. Suspend acquisition plans for this operationally inconsistent aircraft and divert a percentage of current funding ($2.8 billion) into refitting the F-16 or A-10 with enhanced electronic warfare (EW) technology, thereby creating $2 billion in savings.

3. SSN-774 Virginia Class Submarine–Eliminate procurement of high-cost, limited benefit submarine and divert funding to transforming one additional fleet ballistic missile (SSBN) submarine, saving $2.2 billion.

The Virginia Class Submarine was designed to ensure U.S. military undersea supremacy against an advanced naval adversary. The 2006 QDR suggests that China presents such a threat; however there is little evidence to confirm such an assertion. Although the SSN-774 has been configured to fulfill multiple roles germane to current combat requirements–covert insertion and extraction of special operations personnel, tactical strike via Tomahawk Missiles–the same functions can be conducted in a more fiscally prudent manner. The Navy has recently transformed four Trident submarines (SSGN series) to conduct a similar role at a price half that of the $2.4 billion required to purchase one SSN-774. Additionally, since conversion requires the disposal of the nuclear weapons housed within, it is a step in the right direction toward downsizing obsolete elements of our nuclear arsenal.

4. DD(X) DESTROYER–Cancel program and cease production plans saving $3.4 billion.

The DD(X) Destroyer is another example of an expensive weapons system in search of operational relevance. The vessel was originally designed for open ocean warfare against a major naval power. Since there is no such power today, planners have sought to justify the weapon as a platform for launching precisions strikes against onshore targets. It can certainly do this, but the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) currently under development can fulfill this mission at a fraction of the cost. Recent congressional testimony from the CBO and GAO indicates that the average cost estimates have risen from $1 billion to $3.2 billion per ship, with ship life cycle costs likely to be about double that of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer ($4 billion vs. $2.1 billion), and 16 times the projected cost of the LCS.

5. V-22 Osprey–Terminate procurement plans and divert funding ($2.29 billion) to acquisition of upgraded SUPERWHAWK (H-92) or SUPER SEA STALLION (CH-53X), generating a net savings of $2.1 billion.

In 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the V-22 Osprey “a program I don’t need,” and cited it as one example of how Congress forces the Pentagon “to spend money on weapons that don’t fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements.” The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane. Despite spending $12 billion and over two decades to develop, the aircraft is of marginal value in combat: a September 2005 report released by the Pentagon’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation indicated that the Osprey has a demonstrated operational effectiveness only in low and medium threat environments. Given the aircraft’s shoddy performance record, excessive cost per aircraft ($100 million) and failure to meet the “joint concept” purported in the QDR, the United States should terminate procurement plans.

6. C-130J Transport Aircraft–Cancel production of this high-cost, inefficient and unsafe airframe, generating $1.6 billion in savings.

The Pentagon has never expressed a need for this costly, malfunction-plagued transport aircraft and in December 2004 proposed to cancel the Air Force’s C-130J program in FY 06 and the Marine Corp’s. version in FY 07. Nevertheless, plans are in place for the acquisition of 13 more aircraft ($1.6 billion) in FY 07. A 2004 report by the Office of the Inspector General criticized the program, citing that the aircraft is incapable of performing its intended mission and is more costly to maintain than older C-130 models. Only two C-130J are operationally deployed and require an inordinately large maintenance support crew to keep them mission-capable. Although the Pentagon estimates that it would cost $1.1 billion to cancel the program, the amount pales in comparison to the life-cycle maintenance and personnel costs required to keep the aircraft mission-capable.

7. Offensive Space-Based Weapons–Cancel this unproven, controversial and ineffective program to yield $5 billion in savings.

Space-based weaponry is the offensive component of missile defense. The decision to develop and deploy space-based weaponry continues to be a high priority for the current administration. Development of such weaponry invites escalation of the global arms race to a new level that our current budget cannot withstand. Offensive military space-based technology remains in the research and development phase with an estimated $7 billion in funding suggested in FY 07. We recommend cutting this down to $2 billion.

Additional savings can be achieved by instituting more efficient management practices, more logical to near-term mission requirements. Specifically, the United States should:

8. Deactivate two active Air Force wings and one Navy carrier groupDoing so would save at least $7 billion.

The so-called “war on terrorism” has been waged primarily by the ground forces of the Army and Marines. In addition to the 700,000 Army soldiers and Marines on active duty, about 200,000 Army and Marine Reservists have seen action since September 11. In the 3 years our military has been in Iraq and the four and a half years in Afghanistan, the Air Force and Navy have played comparatively minor roles. There were relatively few fixed targets in Afghanistan and the intense bombing campaign in Iraq lasted but three weeks.

At the present time, the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have more than 5,000 tactical combat planes and 1,800 armed helicopters. It is hard to imagine a scenario that would require such large numbers of aircraft. Therefore, two active Air Force wings and one carrier battle group can be eliminated without overburdening the remaining forces. The annual costs of operating, maintaining, and modernizing two wings and the carrier battle group amount to at least $7 billion.

9. Cut Pentagon WasteAt least $5 billion would be saved by eliminating waste, inappropriate earmarks, and duplication.

The Pentagon is a bureaucracy plagued by political pandering and inefficiency. Secretary Rumsfeld estimates that more than $20 billon a year could be saved by improving procurement and business operations, and the Congressional Research Service has pointed out that the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act contained 2,847 specific examples costing more than $9.4 billion, including money for various museums, holiday and bicentennial celebrations, and other matters unrelated to U.S. national security. At least $5 billion would be saved if the Pentagon streamlined its operation and the Pentagon and Congress eliminated needless earmarks (“pork”) in the defense budget.

10. Reign in the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Budget–Trim $5 billion in fiscal year 2007.

For FY 07, the Pentagon proposes spending $73 billion on Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E)–a 50 percent increase since FY 01. Such a large amount for developing sophisticated futuristic weapons is hard to justify in fighting the global war on terrorism. This amount can easily be reduced by $5 billion in FY 07. This is in addition to the cuts in the specific systems listed above.

11. Nuclear forcesReduce arsenal to 600 deployed weapons and 400 in reserve and eliminate the Trident II nuclear missile, generating $14 billion in savings.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Bush administration proposes to spend nearly $17 billion on operating, maintaining, and modernizing its strategic and tactical nuclear forces. About $11 billion a year will go to operating, maintaining and modernizing the bombers, submarines, and missiles that carry the 6,000 operational nuclear weapons in the American arsenal, with the remaining $6 billion going towards maintaining the warheads. During the Cold War, the United States spent less than $4 billion a year on average on these nuclear weapons activities. Reducing the weapons activities budget to its Cold War level by shifting to a deployed arsenal of 600 warheads with another 400 in reserve–an arsenal fully capable of deterring known threats and hedging against unforeseen contingencies–would generate $13 billion in savings. Eliminating funding for the Trident II nuclear missile–an unnecessary weapon, given the availability of other strategic delivery vehicles–would save an additional $1 billion.

V. Addressing Security Deficits

The president’s promise shortly after Sept.11 to mount a “comprehensive” approach to fighting terrorism remains unmet. The numbers in the administration’s budget show that by an overwhelming margin–a factor of six to one–that the United States continues to engage the world through its military. This imbalance applies both to the entire budget pie and many of its individual slices. For example, the budget for scientific research has increased, but 97 percent of it will go to two areas: weapons development and space exploration.

Meanwhile, other approaches to preventing terrorism, viewed by the Sept. 11 commission as central to the task, have gone begging. In its final report card, the commission’s Public Dialogue Project shone its spotlight, and assigned grades of “D” and “F” to these among others: the screening of checked airline baggage and cargo; securing stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; support of secular education in Muslim countries, and developing common international standards for detaining and prosecuting terrorist suspects.

According to counterterrorism experts Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, homeland security and the intelligence community remain in an apparently endless cycle of bureaucratic reorganization, but lack the resources, political leadership and vision to meet the challenges of ensuring homeland security. By emphasizing the military-led “forward strategy of freedom,” they say, we have weakened the necessary domestic and international architecture for prevention and defense. Though the president identified curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction around the world as his top foreign policy priority, his budget continues to fund nonproliferation, including programs in the departments of Defense, Energy and State, at only a little over $1 billion a year.

Nonmilitary Spending

Here we explain our recommendations for increased expenditures on non-military security tools to create a better balance in our security budget.

1. Alternative energy

This year the task force has added a new section on an energy transition to emphasize the substantial increase in spending that will be required to get serious about this long-overdue security priority.

One of the most remarkable transitions of the past year has been the awakening across the political spectrum to the security dangers of what even the president now calls the nation’s addiction to oil. Conservatives such as former CIA Director James Woolsey have raised alarms about U.S. oil consumption funding terrorist groups in the top two oil producing countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran. They observe that this addiction is propelling us to prop up and defend unpopular and undemocratic regimes, and deploy troops to protect the flow of oil from unstable regions.

Hurricane Katrina gave the United States a taste of the effects of unchecked fossil fuel burning on the climate. A 2003 DOD-commissioned report entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security” warned of “violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate” and “military confrontation … triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion or national honor.”

The president’s budget does increase spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy, but by a scant $2.6 million, or 0.2 percent over last year. Even as the budget was released, the New York Times was reporting that budget cuts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory were triggering layoffs of researchers. According to Dan Reicher, an assistant energy secretary for renewable fuels and conservation in the Clinton administration, the president’s “Advanced Energy Initiative … would barely get renewable-energy funding back to where it was” when he took office. For all the rhetorical embrace of the cause, the actual money put to it is vastly insufficient to the problem.

The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of public officials, environmental organizations, businesses and labor unions, has proposed investing $300 billion over 10 years in new energy technologies and energy conservation. The plan includes an array of possible financing strategies involving states and localities and private entities. But the national security importance of the task mandates a serious federal investment. A one-third annual share amounts to $10 billion, or $8.8 billion more than the current request. A serious approach to the problem will also require, in addition to this new funding, such measures as raising fuel efficiency standards.

2. Nonproliferation

The Bush administration has implemented a radical revision in U.S. nonproliferation policy.Senior officials came into office convinced that the entire process of negotiating and implementing nonproliferation treaties was both unnecessary and harmful to U.S. national security interests. They argued that some of the treaties, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, restrict necessary armaments, thus weakening the principal nation that safeguards global peace and security. Other treaties, such as the bans on chemical and biological weapons, promoted a false sense of security as some nations sign, then cheat on the agreements.

Previous U.S. presidents of both parties had treated the weapons themselves as the problem and sought their elimination through such treaties. President Bush framed the issue differently in his 2003 State of the Union address: “The gravest danger facing America and the world is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons” (emphasis added). The Bush administration changed the focus from “what” to “who.” This strategy sought the elimination of regimes rather than weapons. It relied primarily on military means, unilaterally if necessary, to remove the threat. Then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton explained in June 2004, “We must make up for decades of stillborn plans, of wishful thinking, of irresponsible passivity … no longer waiting for some international court to issue a reluctant warrant of grudging permission to allow us to take measures to protect ourselves.”

Miriam Pemberton is Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and Peace and Security Editor for Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of IPS and the International Relations Center. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Lawerence Korb is Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and Senior Advisor, Center for Defense Information. Prior to joining the Center, he was a Senior Fellow and Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to joining the Council, Mr. Korb served as Director of the Center for Public Policy Education and Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. Mr. Korb served as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics) from 1981 through 1985. In that position, he administered about 70 percent of the defense budget. Mr. Korb served on active duty for four years as Naval Flight Officer, and retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Captain. >He has written 20 books and more than 100 articles on national security issues.