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A New Military To Meet New Threats

John Kerry for President

Today, our military is overextended and our troops are overburdened. John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to transform the world's most powerful military to better address the modern threats of terrorism and proliferation, while ensuring that we have enough properly trained and equipped troops to meet our enduring strategic and regional missions. To accomplish this, they will (1) expand our active duty forces, (2) double America's Special Forces capability and increase other specialized personnel, (3) complete the process of technological and educational transformation, (4) redirect the National Guard for homeland security, and (5) enact a Military Family Bill of Rights to relieve the burden on military families.

Expand America's Active Duty Forces

As president, John Kerry will ensure that our military has sufficient troop strength to protect our national security without placing an undue burden on the men and women of our armed forces. He will:

  • Add 40,000 Troops To The Active Duty Army To Prevent And Prepare For Other Possible Conflicts (not to increase the overall number of soldiers in Iraq). Currently, eight of the Army's ten active duty combat divisions are either in Iraq, preparing to go to Iraq, or recently returned from Iraq. While only a third of the Army would typically be deployed at any one time, under current deployment schedules 31 of our 33 active duty combat brigades will have been deployed by the summer of 2004. The Bush administration is relying on temporary solutions including "Stop Loss" orders, recalling the Individual Ready Reserve and extending tours to meet our commitments. These temporary measures have increased the burden on our troops and their families without addressing the underlying reality: we need more troops.

  • Streamline Various Large Weapons Programs, emphasizing electronics, advanced sensors and munitions in a "systems of systems" approach to transformation, reducing total expenditures on missile defense, and further reforming the acquisition process, this proposal can be made budget neutral.

Double America's Special Forces Capability and Increase Other Specialized Personnel

John Kerry and John Edwards recognize the critical role that the Special Forces and other specialized personnel play in America's military. Today we rely on these forces more and more to meet the new threats we face. As president, John Kerry's plan will strengthen our force structure. He will:

  • Double The Army's Special Forces Capability By The End Of His First Term. As part of the 40,000 new troops, John Kerry will double overall Special Forces capabilities in his first four years as president. His plan calls for adding 3,500 active duty and 1,400 reserve Special Forces personnel. This will effectively double the number of Special Forces available to perform overseas operations, including missions with foreign forces such as the anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The Special Forces units will also by be manned at 115 percent, enabling extended absences for individual long-term language and cultural training. This over-strength will also allow for surge-capacity in times of crisis.

  • Add A Special Operations Helicopter Squadron To The Air Force. As president, John Kerry will add a second special operations helicopter squadron to the Air Force, enabling Army forces to better complete their missions.

  • Increase Active-Duty and Reserve Civil Affairs Personnel. As president, John Kerry will increase by 1,200 the number of civil affairs personnel - 200 active-duty and 1,000 reserves. Today's missions are increasingly dependent on civil affairs personnel, including judges, physicians, bankers, health inspectors, fire chiefs, and so forth - the very skills that are needed in post-conflict situations. Active-duty civil affairs personnel provide "quick fix" support until the appropriate specialist teams from the reserves can be activated and deployed. John Kerry's plan represents a 50 percent increase in active-duty civil affairs personnel, and a 20 percent increase in reserve personnel.

  • Increase Active-Duty Psychological Operations Personnel. Today, 70 percent of our psychological operations (PSYOP) personnel are Reservists. As president, John Kerry will add 500 active duty personnel to the 4th PSYOP Group, the only PSYOP Group in the Army. This will round out regionally focused battalions, reduce the burden on Reservists, and provide increased opportunities for language training.

Complete The Process of Technological and Educational Transformation

John Kerry and John Edwards are committed to building an American military that leverages technology and military education across the spectrum of conflict, for every mission performed by the active duty, National Guard or Reserve. To advance this transformation, John Kerry will:

  • Invest In The Right Technologies. As president, John Kerry will focus defense investment in those capabilities vital to waging war successfully in the 21st Century. These include:

    • Advanced communications and information technologies, which will be vital to the full range of military capabilities
    • Sensing and control technologies that will provide the foundation for effective operation of unmanned, even robotic systems
    • Precision weapons, including directed energy weapons that can produce lethal and non-lethal effects
    • Data fusion technologies that will enable our military to act more decisively with enhanced situational awareness and greatly improved intelligence assessments

  • Focus On New And Existing Challenges. As president, John Kerry will create more digital divisions, harness the power of "network centric" warfare, and improve tactical communications crucial to future military success whether the next enemy is a terrorist, an outlaw regime or a would-be peer competitor. He will also invest in new, non-lethal technologies - like directed energy weapons that can incapacitate the enemy without risking the lives of innocent bystanders - for use in urban combat and stability operations so that America's forces are equipped to win the peace as well as the war.

  • Improve Counter-Proliferation Capabilities. As president, John Kerry will strengthen counter-proliferation capabilities to deter, defend and protect the United States and its allies against weapons of mass destruction. He will create new counter-proliferation units that specialize in finding and destroying the most dangerous weapons before they can be used against us. These special units will be trained, equipped and prepared to intercept and disable nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and secure any related facilities. With these capabilities, future presidents will have practical, usable military capabilities against weapons of mass destruction rather than depending on new nuclear weapons.

  • Educate And Train Our Forces For The 21st Century. As president, John Kerry will make sure our troops are prepared for the tasks required of them by ensuring that all aspects of education and training - including basic training, weapons training, combat simulations and professional military education - are fully supported.

Transform The National Guard for Homeland Security

As president, John Kerry will integrate the National Guard into our broader homeland security strategy. To accomplish this goal, he will:

  • Make Homeland Security a Primary Mission Of The National Guard. Today, more than 165,000 Guard and Reserve troops are on active duty. About forty percent of our forces in Iraq are from the Guard and Reserve. Some have been on the ground in Iraq for as many as 15 months - much longer than was expected or promised. Large deployments of Guard members to Iraq have actually weakened local defenses because so many members of the Guard are first responders in their communities - fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians.

  • Giving The Guard The Clear Mission Of Using These Critical Skills For Homeland Security. As president, John Kerry will assign National Guard units to a standing joint task force, commanded by a National Guard General. This task force will create and - if necessary - execute a coordinated strategy to protect our homeland, working with the states and the federal government to respond in times of crisis. Apportioned Guard forces would retain a valid combat capability, but would be rolled into missions that are needed to support homeland security, including intelligence, first responder security, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear missions.

Relieve The Burden On Our Military Families

John Kerry and John Edwards believe that the need to keep faith with our troops extends to their families. The Kerry-Edwards Military Family Bill of Rights will provide military families with competitive pay, good housing, decent health care, quality education for their children, first rate training and the best possible weaponry, armor and state-of-the-art equipment. The Military Family Bill of Rights will also provide assistance to families affected by extended deployments, or injury or death in the line of duty. And military families will receive the best possible information on deployments and responsive government support after their military service is completed.

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