This Thursday, General Thomas Spoehr, retired Army lieutenant general and director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on his recommendations for a future National Defense Strategy.

Spoehr served in the Army for more than 36 years and attained the rank of lieutenant general before retiring.

In October, he published a report titled “Rules For Getting Defense Strategy Right” in War on the Rocks, a foreign policy magazine.

In that report, he writes:

“A real defense strategy would provide clear priorities, identify America’s competitive advantages and how to capitalize on them, and deal with the world — and the enemies it offers — as it is. The need for a new NDS could not be more acute, but previous efforts have had decidedly mixed results. Will this one succeed where others have failed? We are about to find out.”

He recommends:

  • The NDS should evaluate the military’s efficiency on the criteria of its ability to protect our national interests.
  • A defense strategy that prioritizes smart choices over complete inclusiveness should be implemented.
  • All strategies must be directive, not just descriptive.

Your support helps impact these critical decisions that keep our country safe.

How can we improve our national defense strategy?

Comments (18)

Ananta Gopalan - December 9, 2017

Our national defense strategy must be very simple in its basic premise: seek friendly commercial relations with everyone but destroy regimes that do harm to our citizens and interests of peace, decisively and unapologetic-ally. Take the case of Iran. When Iran threatens our navy vessels, issue a warning and if that is not heeded, destroy the Iranian port from which it launched aggression. What we have done in the Obama administration is to capitulate-remember the image of our sailors held captive for a brief period of time. US Navy should have destroyed their naval port then and then tell them that if they do not stop harassing, their official defense agency in Tehran will be next. There is no point in having a military if we are not willing to use it to defend staunchly our interests and security.

Ralph Morrison - December 9, 2017

All military weapons and defense systems, including their parts, must be built exclusively in the US (less critical parts may be built in the very best and reliable allies). The suppliers must not be owned by any foreign country or company not owned exclusively by an Allie corporation. Our security interest must start at removing sanctuary cities, protecting our borders, then reaching past that to help stabilize the world. I agree 100% with Anaya Gopalan that “there is no point in having a military if we are not willing to use it to defend staunchly our interest and security.” “Warn once, Strike twice” is my motto when warnings are not heeded with continued aggression. When I grew up discipline was maintained with a strong hand and a good listening ear. Without that there is no rule of law followed.

Doris Carey - December 9, 2017

This is absolutely correct and the way it should be handled.

Glen Belew - December 9, 2017

I agree with Ananta Gopalan’s opinion on our ND strategy. We should cooperate with all friendly nations, but always protect our soverinty and our people. We should use our strength to uphold our standing in the world.

charles haddock - December 9, 2017

I agree with both A. Gopalam & R. Morrison.
Our policies should be clear and decisive.
Any civilian outfall would be responsibility
of aggressor.
We have seen what happens when we do not
stand firm and exact conseguences on any

Delmas - December 9, 2017

Simply put, we cannot defend ourselves on two fronts. If our weakness is attack. Game over. Our airforce equipment is way under standard just to meet standard. We can’t train enough pilots, because we don’t have the planes to fly to train them. We are scavagina parts now. Lord help us if we have to meet an enemy now. Man power is a joke. We have used up the men overseas fighting over and over. We are at a great risk now. We have so many out dated ships, it not even funny. Warfare is not the same as it was in the last century. AND WE ARE DECINEING. Money bein spent in wrong place and abused by politicians. Have we already forgot the lesson Rome taught us. We are starting to rot at the core. We will destroy ourselves internally if we don’t heed the warning. Thank you .

helen - December 9, 2017

Clean out (get rid of) the numerous intelligence agencies that are hold overs from Obama. Decrease the number of agencies. Prosecute leakers to fullest extent of law.

Andrew Pittman - December 9, 2017

In my opinion, the greatest threat to our country is the national debt. All it would take to bring our country to it’s knees is a rapid rise of interest rates. We can no longer afford to spend the kind of money we are spending on foreign conflicts. We spend billions of dollars getting rid of a bad ruler in the Middle East, only to have an equally bad guy take over. We need to spend some of that money securing our own border to keep the bad guys out. Let the Arabs fight each other and we need to stay out of it unless they attack us or our allies. Remember that it was economics that brought down the Soviet Union, not military action. We should learn from history.

Raymond Rakower - December 9, 2017

Suggestions for discussing improvements of the American defense strategy
The Middle East: Replace the Turkish airforce base, which relies on the megalomaniac pasha-behavior of Erdogan as well as the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO, by developing the present small U.S. airforce base in Israel, and locate there some MOAB’s brought by U.S. warships in advance in Israel. In order for the large corresponding U.S. bombers to refuel on the spot and load each a MOAB which would need to be used in the Middle East, namely on the borders between Israel and Gaza in the south-east and those on the north with Lebanon. Indeed, both Hamas and Hezbollah have huge deep underground facilities, where Hezbollah has accumulated hundreds of thousands rockets and missiles in these storages, and Hamas has created a maze of tunnels which go deep into Israel’s territory. The same strategy could become necessary depending on the Russian way of supporting Bashar el-Assad. Nobody knows what will be Putin’s plans concerning the Syrian territory controlled by his puppet Bashar el-Assad.
U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean: Another approach should be taken in view of North Korea’s mentally ill president Kim Jong-un to wish to impress the world by wiping out one of these bases with nuke-tipped ICBM’s. There, an umbrella of space capable missiles anti-missiles should be installed, similar to but more powerful “Slings of David”.
Sea of China: Nuclear submarines which are capable of shaking and undermining those small islands which China claims to be its territory, with nuclear-tipped underwater missiles.
Iran: Develop low flying missiles, projectiles, (below Iranian radars) armed with high frequency magnetic impulse generators, which paralyze the control of airports, ports, city traffic, sow havoc in a dozen most important cities of Iran.

America’s safety, from a military traditional viewpoint, depends on those far away regions. But modern warfare has mixed terrorism with traditional war. Hence, the safety of America’s own territory is presently the responsibility of Homeland Safety, which does not cover such modern warfare. The wall against Mexico should be extended to isolate California, since the Mexican drug dealers and other criminals can easily invade California by land and by sea.
But this is by far not the controlling danger towards the survival of the American people on its own soil:
The biggest threat may well be terrorists from North Korea or the critical Moslem countries, entering the American mainland via California by land or by sea, with bacteriological weapons, airborne, which have the potential to kill somewhere between 30 million and 100 million American citizens.
Homeland Security is not the right “army” to seek and destroy such enemies. Hence, the CIA is better adapted to such kind of enemies, better trained, benefitting from quite another budget, better trained and equipped. This means that the CIA still has the same scope of activities, but should no more be limited to foreign countries. The CIA should become a global army on its own right.

John Adam - December 9, 2017

Immediately harden the US electric grid against a EMP attack. We know how to do it and it would cost just a few billion dollars.

Start development of the 3 trillion gallons of oil that the USGS testified before congress about in April of 2008.

Use the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor developed by Transatomic Power to use the US Navy’s spent nuclear fuel rods as fuel to prove its value without interference by lawyers and then make it legal to use to power the USA for hundreds of years

OPEC and Russia’s Rosatom needs to know what we can do!

Use the LFTR to burn thorium so that thorium obtained by US rare earth mining can be disposed of profitably and Chinese control of the rare earth element market will end. We need REEs for National Defence Technology.

John Adam - December 9, 2017

Sorry, I meant to write 3 trillion barrels of oil in my earlier comment. It is on US Government Land,

It was originally called the US Navy Shale Oil Reserve I,II, and III in 1927.

There is also huge amounts of natural gas there.

US DOE coal ash study, . ORNL found that it also contains all the nuclear fuel we would ever need. It also contains 14.7% aluminium.

Steven Yager - December 9, 2017

As noted, the NDS should flow from the NSS, the presumption is that NSS defines our national interests (current and and estimated over a planning horizon. Each interest should be supported by an assessment to identify all vulnerabilities, assets exposed by national interest and a risks assessment. The NDS then can develop mitigation/defense strategies and tactics based on the priorities defined in the NSS.

JOHN EMMI - December 10, 2017

After having served 24 years in the USAF and observing events after my discharge of 22 years ago the biggest issues, apart from the roller coaster budgeting, continues to be political correctness and using the military as a experimental laboratory for social engineering. The military left to it’s own devices may not be monterely efficient but generally get the NDS defined correctly and the job done when given the necessary resources.

Tom Lanners - December 10, 2017

American interests are first. The Heritage Foundation has helped define them very well.
The problem is that politicians, mainly O’bama,
have weakened our military to the point where we would be hard pressed to defend our interests.
First step is to rebuild the military A.S.A.P., work with nations that respect our interests, and deal with those that do not. It can be done, but time is short.

Douglas W. Lathrem - December 10, 2017

We currently have threats from two nations that have been allowed to fester through many administrations. Those failures have placed us in great peril that, while recognized, cannot, in my opinion, be countered without overwhelming military force. Both the regimes of Iran and North Korea are totally unreliable in terms of keeping their commitments. Diplomacy cannot, and will not, remove the threat as each of these evil players continues to refine their capability to bring great harm to ourselves and to our allies all the while playing each administration with guile and cunning. The only way to stop the progress toward their diabolical ends is to eradicate the capacity through force.

As mentioned elsewhere, we have depleted our armed forces with the “Peace Dividend” and budget manipulation depriving our services of the material they need to do the job. So, the re-building of the military to full strength is a first step. But, time is running out. We can only guess where Iran is in terms of its nuclear development because we are not allowed to go certain places due to the foolish terms in the Obama/Kerry agreement. But, North Korea may be within months or even weeks of developing a warhead small enough to be placed on an ICBM that they have proven can reach the US.

Considering the condition of our armed forces it would be easier to go after one regime and then the other. If we move to take out one of the two, the other will likely become more likely to strike so that will place us in a precarious position due to the current lack of military readiness. Our allies, except for Israel, hold the same degree of temerity as they had prior to Hitler handing them their heads on a platter at the outset of WW II. Many view President Trump as a loose cannon who can’t be trusted as Commander In Chief, or they use that stance to justify their unwillingness to see, or prepare for, the danger that threatens them as well. I believe that President Trump is, perhaps, the only individual who has the gumption and judgment to take the steps necessary to disarm these devils. He is the right person at the right time. I believe he is very much involved with The Joint Chiefs to look at every aspect of the matter and while he too is attempting to negotiate the peaceful removal of the threat, there is not a shred of hope that such could become reality in spite of the great deal maker.

If allowed to go to the point wherein these rogue regimes have the nuclear, and other, capabilities to wreak havoc and great devastation, including death to hundreds of thousands, or millions, and they do, or they threaten to do so, then will we attack or retaliate in kind? Or, will we sue for peace to completely avoid the very real danger, or avoid further catastrophe at their hands?

The Mouse that Roared film in 1959, was more than a simple parody of a serious situation. It highlighted the potential for a smaller country to freeze the options of a super power which then may believe it prudent to capitulate to the small country. Who will make the difficult decisions when Korea, or Iran, has the capability to send a warhead to one, or more American Cities? Are we going to rely on our Star Wars means of knocking it out of the sky? Is it not more pragmatic to make the difficult decisions now to eradicate the capacity before we are faced with that conundrum?

Russia and China are the economic and military benefactors of Iran and North Korea, respectively. Should they challenge us in our quest to bring these rogue nations into line, that certainly thickens the plot. Further, in winning the war, we would also necessarily have to find a means of winning the peace which avoided us in Iraq. Complicated it is.

But, without removing the threat from these, two, irrational, and persistent, regimes in their progress toward nuclear prowess and the ability to deliver it to our shores, we are allowing for a future confrontation with few, if any, options in spite of our ability to obliterate either of them once an attack has been made. To delay is to invite calamity. To me this is as obvious as was the inevitability of Hitler’s plans laid out in Mein Kampf. Plans need to be in place with a time table for execution. To dither further will only result is greater means of intimidation by these rogues, and/or the portent for (without hyperbole) cataclysmic death and destruction for ourselves as well as for these sworn enemies.

stephen palmer - December 11, 2017

I am heartened to see that Heritage leadership is involved with our NDS. I am so sick and tired of hearing obama and his ilk and the other leftist/communists blather on about National Defense. Their sole objective is the downfall of our freedom loving Country. And the sad part is they are so blinded by their stupidity that most don’t even know it.

William Coates - December 11, 2017

Give serious consideration to the scenario presented in ‘One Second After’. We have 4 adversaries capable of an EMP attack from offshore and would not know where to retaliate. Decentralized power generation can be improvised by putting AC generators into a substantial number of our idle diesel railroad engines and placing them with a few tank cars of fuel near small towns in the food-producing regions. This would reduce the starvation problem. The cities are toast due to the existing sleeper cells and criminal groups.

Wimpy - January 4, 2018

Thniking like that shows an expert’s touch

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