Issue Position: National Security

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Issues: Defense

The primary role of the Federal Government is to protect our citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. The United States should continue to maintain the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen. Federal spending should reflect these priorities.

We should approach national security with a healthy skepticism of foreign entanglements, only engaging when it is in our vital national interest. Once the decision has been made to engage, we should act with overwhelming force to decimate our enemies.

Ben Sasse has wide support in the military and veterans community. He is supported by both retired senior military officers and retired senior enlisted personnel. This group makes up Ben's Military & Veterans Advisory Council co-chaired by Maj. Gen. Walt Zin, USA Ret.; and Brig. Gen. Roma Amundson, USA Ret.

Sasse Military & Veterans Advisory Council Co-Chair, Maj. Gen. Walt Zink, USA Ret.:

"America and Nebraska need an energetic U.S. Senator who understands not only the issues confronting our Country and State, but the threats that are presented by unchecked spending as well as foreign adversaries. Ben Sasse understands that now is the time to take bold, decisive actions to restrain spending, maintain a National Defense that is crucial to defending our Homeland and deterring our adversaries. As Nebraska's next U.S. Senator, Ben Sasse will work to make certain that our Nation remains strong and safe and will do so in a fiscally prudent manner -- that is why I support him to be Nebraska's next United States Senator." -- Maj. Gen Walt Zink, USA Ret.

Walt Zink is a retired Major General in the United States Army National Guard, having been called to active duty during Operation Enduring Freedom. Last year, Maj. Gen. Zink was asked by Governor Dave Heineman to chair the review and selection committee for Nebraska's adjutant general search.

Sasse Military & Veterans Advisory Council Co-Chair, Brig. Gen. Roma Amundson, USA Ret.:

"Ben Sasse recognizes that the principal function of the national government is to provide for the common defense, for the safety and security of Americans. He is committed to a strong national military and to strong state militias. With his distinct abilities in leadership and management proven over years of turning around failing organizations, I know that he will bring a common-sense approach to solving our national debt that is one of the chief problems adversely affecting our national security." -- Brig. Gen. Roma Amundson, USA Ret.

Roma Amundson retired from the military in April, 2011, after 33 years of service, rising from enlisted rank to that of Brigadier General. Her last military assignment was as the Assistant Adjutant General of the Nebraska Army National Guard. She has commanded at all levels, from company and detachment through brigade, and has held numerous staff and directorate assignments.

Ben's Guiding Principles on National Security Issues

1. The Constitution

"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

2. The Budget

"I've said many times that I believe the single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt, so I also believe we have every responsibility to help eliminate that threat." -- 17thChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, USN Ret.

When John F. Kennedy was President the United States spent 52 percent of the federal budget on national defense -- and one percent on health entitlements. When Ronald Reagan was President national defense spending as a percentage of government outlays had fallen to 30 percent, while health entitlements had risen to 11 percent.

In 2012, for the first time in U.S. history, health entitlement programs outpaced national defense spending -- 24 percent (health entitlements) to 22 percent (national defense). And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, under current projections in the year 2030 five mandatory entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, Social Security, and interest on the debt) will comprise 71 percent of all federal outlays, while national defense spending will be reduced to 14 percent.

We are living in an incredibly dangerous world, one changed forever by 9/11. Putting us at even greater risk is an Administration that doesn't seem to understand that the core function of our government is not to redistribute wealth, but to protect us from our enemies. The biggest spending problem we have is entitlements. There should be reduction in our national defense investments; the problem is that our leaders are not tackling our runaway entitlement spending.

Congress should question the worth of every penny of taxpayer dollars spent by the Department of Defense. However, our National Security Strategy should not be based solely on budgetary concerns or threats in the immediate future, but instead balanced with careful short- and long-term threat analysis -- the readiness and effectiveness of an improperly balanced force will not be evident immediately.

3. Foreign Policy

A strong America is a more prosperous and secure America, and American leadership makes for a safer and more peaceful world. But President Obama's policies have done more to weaken our nation than anyone since Jimmy Carter. Under the Obama Administration, America's global standing has deteriorated to dangerous levels. Our adversaries don't fear us and our friends don't trust us. Russia's attack on Ukraine shows the folly of President Obama's naive, liberal worldview that international aggression is out of date. Dictatorships like China and North Korea have become emboldened by Obama's lead-from-behind weakness. His passivity on Syria has led to a dramatic increase in the number of jihadist terrorists, and on his watch Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before. Restoring America's credibility means strengthening our alliances, deterring our enemies, and leading the world from the front.

4. End-Strength

At a time when we face threats in every hemisphere, the current Administration wants to reduce the size of our forces below what is needed to fight two wars at once. Danger surrounds us: from China to North Korea to the Middle East to a newly assertive Russia flexing its muscles in our own hemisphere. The Obama Administration's weakness is provocative to our adversaries. We need to return to President Reagan's principle of peace through strength.

The end-strength of our military (active duty, guard and reserve) must support our National Defense Strategy, protect the Homeland, and have the ability to respond to a changing world scene with threats to the United States' interest and security.

The United States must have a defense budget and defense policies that provide for a combat-ready, all-volunteer, total force that is well-trained and equipped, properly resourced and mission-ready for sustained combat.

5. Guard and Reserve Components

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 16 of the United States Constitution gives the Congress the parameters "for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."

The National Guard has and will continue to be an important part of Nebraska's history and character. National Guardsmen from across Nebraska and the country have left their families to serve honorably in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in responding to a variety of missions in the Homeland and elsewhere. The Guard and Reserve have proven to be efficient and cost-effective, and therefore should be saved from any arbitrary reduction to their end-strength.

In order to have a properly balanced "Total Force," the Guard and Reserve must have access to the latest training, equipment and technology available to fulfill their important role in the National Security Strategy of the United States.

In addition, the Federal Government should not seek to remove equipment that is needed and used by the National Guard and its Governors in their State emergency response mission.

6. Offutt Air Force Base

With the construction of Fort Crook in the 1890's, Offutt Air Force Base began its long history with the Cornhusker State. After World War II and in the escalation of the Cold War, Offutt became one of the key strategic bases in the United States.

Today, Offutt AFB is the headquarters for the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), which is a critical component in our nuclear deterrence/defense strategies as port of our overall National Security Strategy.

In addition to USSTRATCOM, Offutt houses the 55th Wing, 20th Intelligence Squadron, Air Force Weather Agency, 343rd Recruiting Squadron, Strategic Communications Wing One Detachment, and the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band -- employing nearly 10,000 Nebraskans and contributing $1.3 billion in economic impact to the local economy.

Offutt Air Force Base is an important strategic partner in the security of our nation and the economy of Nebraska. Steps must be taken to secure Offutt's current missions and seek to expand and/or add additional missions that coincide with the National Security Strategy of the United States.

7. Our Commitment to Those Who Serve

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." -- Abraham Lincoln

The United States must keep the commitments made to those who have served. As the United States Congress debates policy, this means standing by current uniformed service members, retirees, their survivors and dependents to ensure we do not "break faith" with those have served honorably to protect our freedom.

In addition, we must ensure that the United States can still recruit the best volunteer fighting force the world has ever seen. The Department of Defense must be able to continue to offer its current military incentive package, with the understanding that the same one-third of the defense budget has gone to personnel and healthcare costs for the past 30 years. This is no less affordable now than in the past and these unique military programs are crucial to recruiting and retaining top-quality people to serve arduous decades in uniform.