NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 4, 2005

In order to keep America safe, the U.S. military and homeland defense will require a major overhaul during President Bush's second term, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Heritage defense experts Jack Spencer and James Jay Carafano say that the administration has a veritable laundry list of issues that need to be addressed.

Most notably, the defense budget needs to be raised to 4 percent of gross domestic product, a level within historical norms. Tragically, vehicle armor, military construction and ballistic missile submarine communications are among the important programs that have struggled due to lack of funds. In addition, they recommend that:

  • Ballistic missile defense needs to be brought online as soon as possible, with the development of a more robust global missile defense capability to follow.
  • The funding for the Coast Guard's Deepwater program, which involves upgrading its fleet with newer technology, should be increased to $1.5 billion -- double the current level of funding.
  • The National Guard must increase its capacity to respond to catastrophic threats and protection of critical infrastructure; similarly, the military must also increase its capacity to support maritime security.

The administration should also be careful not to repeat the same mistakes of previous administrations. For example, the United States should be extremely selective of where it becomes militarily involved, preferring instead a support role and deferring to regional interests.

Moreover, the administration should be wary of homeland security grants becoming pork-barrel legislation. Congress should pass legislation mandating a structure for distributing funds based on strategic needs and performance-based spending.

Source: Jack Spencer et al., "Defense Priorities for the Next Four Years," Heritage Foundation, January 11, 2005; and James Jay Carafano, "Top Homeland Security Priorities for the Next Four Years," Heritage Foundation, January 11, 2005.


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