TO: President-elect Donald Trump
Secretary of Defense (nominee) Gen. James Mattis
National Security Advisor (designee) Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
CC: Director of Central Intelligence (nominee) Cong. Mike Pompeo
Director of National Intelligence (nominee) Sen. Dan Coates
SUBJECT: Restoring America’s Defenses
Americans pay little attention to the war in which we are engaged for several reasons, first among which is that only about one percent of America fights, lives and dies in it. The war was brought to our homes, cities and streets by the 9/11 attacks, but you already understand that it began long before. It began with the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis and took many lives in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. The war was only later declared in Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa against America.
Though Congress authorized military action against al-Qaeda and other 9/11 terrorist participants in those attacks, we have never declared war against them or the nations that sponsor them.
Some of you understand that the principal lesson of Vietnam is that if you don’t fight a war in a manner intended to win it decisively you will lose it inevitably. That is why we are losing the war being waged against us by the terrorist networks and the nations that support them.
We were deflected from victory by President Bush’s nation-building strategy which gave the enemy control of the pace and direction of the war. Our forces have been further hobbled by the politically correct means in which we have fought the war.
The war against Islamic terrorists and terrorist powers is not the only conflict in which we are engaged. Cold wars are going on with Russia, China and Iran (which, of course, is also the world’s principal sponsor of terrorist networks). Americans aren’t thinking about those wars either. The media, the Democrats, and the Republican establishment all share responsibility for that fact.
It’s your collective job to win these wars and to deter or defeat the other threats. To do so will require you to do at least three things simultaneously and which you should begin immediately: (1) derive a national military strategy and budget to win these conflicts from an intensive analysis of intelligence on our enemies’ intentions and capabilities; (2) conduct the kind of intense ideological war that President Bush shied away from and Mr. Obama surrendered preemptively; and (3) act on the “personnel is policy” lesson we learned during the Reagan era.
Each will require months or years to accomplish. But every one of these tasks must be done if we are going to restore our nation’s security.
Even some die-hard Democrats will admit that rebuilding our military and intelligence capabilities is necessary. But how?
We really don’t know how many or what types of ships, aircraft, satellites and people we need. The Quadrennial Defense Review, or QDR, is supposed to be based on the analysis and required to be the foundation of our national defense strategy as well as the defense budget. But the QDR has become a bloated bureaucratic exercise diverted from facts by politics. The 2012 QDR was used by the Obama administration to justify defense cuts that had already been decided in disregard of actual requirements.