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Defense Imperatives for the New Administration


It has been more than two generations since the presidency transitioned with American troops engaged in significant combat operations—a deployment begun in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Beyond the current military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nation faces other equally important national security challenges. These include nuclear proliferation, the potential for other regional conflicts into which we could be drawn, and the spread of militarily relevant technology even beyond nation-states.

The incoming leadership must be prepared to deal with the most pressing issues facing the Department of Defense today. The pressing issues described herein are daunting and may seem all-inclusive, but they are only a fraction of the defense challenges facing the new administration. This report describes just those issues that the next Secretary of Defense should place at the top of the agenda—issues that will require the attention of the Commander-in-Chief, and, if left unresolved, could lead to future military failure. This report offers recommendations drawn from reports prepared by the Defense Science Board, an advisory body to the Secretary of Defense, which address topics at the confluence of technology, policy, and management.


Table of Contents

Achieving national goals: introduction and summary

    Protect and defend the homeland

      Weapons of mass destruction challenge the safety of our homeland and our military forces

      Our nuclear capability—weapons, skills, facilities—is declining

    Maintain capability to project force around the world, to deter or defeat

      Our military and civilian information infrastructure is highly vulnerable

      DOD’s business practices are having a long-term debilitating effect on our military forces

    Bring stability to states and regions

      We lack robust plans and capabilities to support country-specific stability operations

    Thwart terrorism and bring terrorists to justice, anytime and anywhere

      We lack the deep penetration required for actionable intelligence—both foreign and domestic

    Support state and local authorities in providing domestic catastrophe relief

      The nation lacks validated operational contingency plans to respond to domestic catastrophes—whether natural or malicious

Lack of cooperation, rising costs, and organizational culture hinder the nation’s success

    DOD cannot “go it alone”—its success depends on orchestrated government action

    The “cost” of success may be high, and is getting higher

    Why things are the way they are

These are urgent matters

    Some key recommendations for addressing the pressing issues



Access Full Report [PDF 6.95MB]

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