An increase in defense spending was needed, but it must be done right…
In terms of the US defense budget, the additional $54 billion is a great addition to the existing $550 billion. The challenge for President Trump and the US Department of Defense is how to get the best, most immediate use out of the additional defense spending. In other words, spend the defense dollars on what is attacking America’s enemy, making the world safer, and helping our allies.
The best test for the additional defense spending is to look at what has helped defeat the nation’s enemies over the past 24 months and then dedicate the $54B to supplementing those programs. Thus, the defense infusion is used to fund those programs and systems that are defeating terrorists today, not planned systems that may never come into the US defense arsenal or end up fielding years from today.
Upon observing operations across the Middle East, Africa, and the remainder of the globe, it seems the $54B should be directed to support these programs.
The defense priorities should be as follows:
- Air Force and Army Special Operations aircraft maintenance and Air Force refueling aircraft
- Aircraft maintenance for combat operations (Army, Air Force, and USMC)
- Armed drone and drone intelligence operations (aircraft, weapons, and training)
- Automated intelligence analysis to react faster and more accurately to created intelligence for offensive operations
- Creation of an independent, forward deployed Special Operations Battalion for each Theater Commander (CENTCOM, EUCOM, PACOM, etc.) with a Ranger Company, Special Forces Company, SEAL Platoon, Air Force Special Operations Detachment, USMC Raider Detachment, and logistical package to support independent theater-specific SOF operations
- Maintenance of Carrier Battle Groups
- Offensive cyber operations to disrupt enemy networks as well as automatically create, distribute, assess, and recreate messages and media that defeat radical Islamic propaganda across the internet and social media
- Special Operations Forces training in their respective theaters
- Standoff munitions for aircraft and non-nuclear cruise missiles
- Surveillance systems for border and US Coast Guard operations preventing illegal crossings into the United States
- Training programs for US Allies supplying forces to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa
- Training programs to support humanitarian assistance programs in the event of man-made or natural disasters
- Training programs for offensive cyber operations against state- and non-state-based actors
This funding list is broad enough to fund what is making a difference for US offensive and defensive operations today. In a budget as large as the US defense budget, there is the danger of letting it fall into one big “pot.” Rather than serving as a broad infusion, the $54 billion defense budget increase should be a directed infusion into what is defeating the nation’s enemies today.
The ongoing operations across Iraq and Syria demonstrate that this funding option would be a success. First, the funding of aircraft, carrier, and standoff weapons procurement and maintenance directly supports the aircraft that are helping to win the conflict against ISIL. Second, the creation of independent Special Operations Battalions of cross-service capability directly under the theater commander creates an independent Special Operations Force action arm for theater commanders. Third, offensive cyber operations deny the enemy funding, recruits, propaganda, and a secure “base” in the cyber world. Finally, funding for training allies and preparing the US military to assist in humanitarian operations ensures that the US military maintains the moral high ground in the face of our enemies’ dehumanizing activities and the global community.
We must direct US Department of Defense budget infusions toward the warriors, assets, munitions, platforms, and technology that are enabling the United States to win today.
Chad Storlie is an OpsLens Contributor and retired Lieutenant Colonel with 20-plus years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is author of two books: “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader” and “Battlefield to Business Success.” Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @Combattocorp.