Six Steps to a Safer America:
National Security and the 2005 Budget

• The Six Steps
• Download: PDF, RTF, DOC.

No national security strategy, no matter how well conceived, can be effective unless adequate resources are provided to carry it out. Today, the United States is engaged in a multi-front and multi-faceted campaign against terrorism. Military assets, particularly the U.S. Army, are a central component in this effort, and the country requires new kinds of capabilities to succeed in the threat environment of the 21st century. Transformation of our weapons and tactics is part of the solution, but without the ability to retain the forces we have and recruit more of what we need, the military will develop serious problems that could take a generation or more to fix. The effectiveness of our armed forces depends not just on smart bombs, but on smart, well-trained, and highly motivated people.

To begin this effort in the year ahead, we recommend the following changes to the defense budget.

Step One: Increase the size of the active Army to a 12-division force from the current 10 divisions, and field a division devoted to stabilization and reconstruction. This action, as suggested by former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, will enable the Army to provide adequate security in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as meet its global commitments without undermining its long term readiness, relying unduly on the Reserve component or jeopardizing the all-volunteer army. It will increase the size of the active duty force to 520,000 from 480,000. The administration’s existing plan for personnel transformation – expanding civilian responsibilities for duties that do not require military personnel – is not enough. While these changes are useful, the administration exaggerates the impact they will have.

Put simply, more Army troops with different capabilities are required – in particular, those specialties that are critical in the kind of post-conflict situations that we are confronting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army should create an active duty division dedicated to stabilization and reconstruction that can help turn battlefield victory into political and economic stability. It also needs many more military police, civil affairs, engineering and medical personnel in the active force. We estimate the cost of this additional force structure to be $4.8 billion ($1.2 billion for each additional 10,000 soldiers).

Step Two: Provide necessary but currently missing battlefield equipment and greater protection for both active troops and reservists. One of the most pressing military challenges is protecting our people and maintaining high retention rates even with today’s increased operational tempo. Additional efforts to enhance our ability to deploy ground forces rapidly and enable them to operate in urban environments must be taken. Soldiers must have more predictable rotation schedules. We must supply the best equipment to our active duty troops and citizen soldiers, regardless of their status or unit. For example, all soldiers should be equipped with ceramic body armor, which has been so scarce that families have taken to providing it for their loved ones overseas. Furthermore, the equipment soldiers regularly use, such as Humvees, should have armor sufficient to protect against rocket propelled grenades. All helicopters, even those in the Reserve component, should be equipped with anti-missile devices. The estimated total cost of protecting our forces with necessary equipment would be $1 billion.

Step Three: Stem the emerging retention crisis by supporting military personnel and their families with increased health and education benefits. Both active duty forces and reservists deserve our country’s support on and off the battlefield. First, reservists and their families should be able to enter the military’s health care system. The military should reimburse reservists who elect to maintain health coverage through their civilian jobs when they are mobilized. The total cost of these steps would amount to about $2 billion a year.

Second, the administration should provide consistent quality education for military families, since spouses and families factor significantly into reenlistment decisions. With a defense budget request this year of about $420 billion, there is no reason that schools on military bases should be closed. This service will cost about $363 million (33,000 students at $11,000 per student). The total estimated cost of supporting military personnel and their families off the battlefield would be $2.4 billion.

Step Four: Strengthen the capacity of the National Guard to protect our homeland from nuclear, chemical and biological attacks. The administration should increase the number of WMD support teams in the National Guard to 100 from its present level of 32 to assist local authorities in the event of a biological, chemical or nuclear weapons attack on the United States. The 2002 Hart-Rudman task force on homeland security drew a similar conclusion. Given the nature of the threat to the American public, key infrastructure and defense industries, and the existing capabilities of local and state officials, this nation needs at least 100 of these teams as soon as possible. Since the one-time cost of forming each team is about $8 million, adding these additional 68 teams would come to about $0.5 billion.

Step Five: Dramatically expand programs that secure or destroy nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials and technologies by increasing funding for Nunn-Lugar to $2 billion from its current level of $450 million. Nunn-Lugar helps the states of the former Soviet Union protect their nuclear weapons, materials and delivery systems. Despite the administration’s reluctance to provide adequate resources, this program has deactivated 5,990 nuclear warheads, destroyed 479 ballistic missiles and employed more than 22,000 scientists who worked previously in weapons of mass destruction programs. In addition to increasing funding for the program, the administration should propose expanding Nunn-Lugar in and beyond the former Soviet Union by initiating an international program that secures and destroys weapons of mass destruction-related materials and technology, and makes provisions for relevant scientists. This would require an increase in the defense budget of $1.5 billion.

Step Six: Broaden international efforts to hunt down and secure or destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by ensuring that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has the resources it needs to do the job. We encourage continued engagement of and support for the IAEA, especially as the agency is called on to play a central role in managing challenges like verifying the disarmament of Iran and Libya. The IAEA’s Regular Budget for FY 2004 is $268.5 million, of which the United States, through the Department of State, contributed $54 million. The U.S. Department of Energy also contributes several million dollars directly to the agency’s verification efforts. This marks the first time in over a decade that IAEA member states approved a real budget increase for the agency. This is an important step forward in closing the resources-expectations gap that has beleaguered the world’s leading nuclear surety and security agency. We support the administration’s targeted support for the IAEA’s important safeguards programs, but these contributions should be made a permanent part of the agency’s budget to ensure that funding for these important programs is predictable and stable.

Overview | Five-Point Failure | A Different Strategy | The Six Steps | How We Will Pay For It

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow