In order to ensure both the peace and security of our nation, the Council for a Livable World supports the following security-related programs or activities:
-Investing substantial resources to modernize our military forces, even after they are withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. Our current military still reflects an outdated Cold War mentality, which predicted a total war in Europe. We need to update our military to become more adaptable and flexible in order to properly respond to the needs of the 21st century, particularly those arising from terrorism, failed states, and humanitarian disasters. Examples of flexible, efficient weapons systems include the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the Stryker Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV).
-Increasing funding for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVâ€™s). An excellent way to collect real-time intelligence necessary to determine enemy locations, UAVs do so without putting American service people in harms way. They are a critical tool in the war against terrorism. UAVs can also potentially be used to detect and eliminate or neutralize mines and improvised explosive devices.
-Increasing funding for the detection and elimination of improvised explosive devices, such as remote-detonated roadside bombs. These devices have contributed to a significant number of the deaths and injuries of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to military records and the USA Today Iraq casualty database, IEDs have killed 95 troops in Iraq from the beginning of 2006 through April 9, or 57% of the 167 U.S. fatalities in Iraq during that period. And the amount of IEDs is increasing, with the number of IED attacks increasing 89% in 2005 to 10,593, compared with 5,607 in 2004, as reported by U.S. Central Command, which directs troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Greater research into how to detect and neutralize or eliminate these devices is sorely needed.
-Increasing funding for body armor and armored vehicles in order to protect our troops in combat situations. Troops, particularly those in Iraq, have not been given sufficient protective gear needed to defend themselves, particularly from unconventional or asymmetrical attacks. The situation has been so dire that some soldiers have purchased body armor for themselves out of their own pockets. Furthermore, considering that the armor itself weighs upwards of 60 to 100 pounds and is highly restrictive, greater research and development into flexible, lightweight armor is essential.
-Increasing funding for "focused-lethality munitions" (targeted, lower yield munitions) in order to minimize civilian casualties and unnecessary destruction. With over 30,000 Iraqi civilians already killed, it is absolutely imperative for US forces to minimize the so-called collateral damage produced by warfare.
-Increasing resources devoted to the capture of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahri, Muqtada al Sadr, and other high level al Qaeda terrorists. The capture of Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan is also important. These figures are directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and need to be brought to justice.
-Increasing compensation and benefits for troops and addressing quality of life issues and lost pay for Guard and Reserve troops. Selected reservists should be able to enroll in TRICARE, the militaryâ€™s healthcare system. The federal government should provide leadership on lost pay by compensating its employees for time lost while serving our country and encourage private employers to do the same.
-Listening to the needs of soldiers on the ground. Encouraging internal suggestions about the needs of the soldiers and what is necessary for them to accomplish their goals is crucial. Increasing the number of â€œafter actionâ€� reports, combined with creating a mechanism by which active soldiers can provide input into increasing their utility and effectiveness would be a positive first step.
-Thoroughly and rigorously researching and testing weapons systems before they are put into field use. Combined with greater oversight of spending, waste and inefficiency can be minimized, thereby allowing a greater emphasis on the true priorities of the military.
-Improving inefficient weapons-buying practices. In 1986, the so-called Packard Commission found that weapons cost too much and took too long to develop and now 20 years later, four recently released major studies have largely concluded the same thing. These practices need to change to ensure that valuable taxpayer money is not being grossly misspent.
Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
-Expanding the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (operated by the Department of Energy) and the Cooperative Threat Reduction (operated by the Department of Defense). Securing loose fissile material in foreign countries must be a high priority for the US in order to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations who might potentially use the material to develop a nuclear weapon. For this reason, the materials protection, control, and accounting program of Global Clean Out is particularly important.
-Securing fissile material and spent fuels domestically, particularly those at universities. Recent reports have demonstrated that universities engaged in nuclear related research do not have proper safeguards and are a potential source for terrorists to acquire fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon or spent fuel for a â€œdirty bomb.â€�
-Accelerating the dismantlement of obsolete nuclear weapons and ensuring that the Reliable Replacement Weapons (RRW) program does not create additional weapons or require resumption of nuclear explosive testing.
-Revitalizing the Nunn-Lugar/Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, as proposed by the Baker-Cutler report. "The most urgent, unmet national security threat to the United States today,â€� the report states, â€œis the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home." It concludes that the scope and funding of current nonproliferation programs in Russia fall well short of levels needed to address these continuing threats. It recommends that the US develop and implement an eight to ten year, $30 billion strategic plan to neutralize all nuclear weapons-usable materials in Russia and to prevent the outflow of Russian scientific expertise that could be used for nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.
-Increasing port security, domestic cargo vessel inspection, inspection of cargo vessels at the dock of departure, and high seas inspections. Increasing both the quantity and quality of cargo inspected for potential threats is vital to keeping America safe. It is important, however, to inspect cargo not only at the gates of the US, but also before it arrives at the dock of departure. Inspecting vessels suspected of transporting illicit materials to potentially be used against the US on the high seas is also crucial, particularly in areas such as coastal Somalia where piracy is increasing at an alarming rate.
-Expanding security around chemical and nuclear plants, mass transportation sites, and food and water supplies. These frequently overlooked â€œsoft targetsâ€� are often vulnerable to attack or disruption, yet play integral roles in our safety and well-being.
-Improve inspection and detection programs at key border entry points. In December 2005, undercover teams from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), using phony documents to convince US Customs officers to let them through, were able to smuggle enough radioactive material across border checkpoints in the states of Washington and Texas to create two â€œdirty bombs.â€� This frightening scenario could play out with actual terrorists if we are not more vigilant in inspecting and detecting potentially dangerous material at key border entry points.
-Expanding our first response system in case of an attack. Increased capabilities in the event that the US does suffer another attack, whether that be from a â€œdirty bombâ€� or from chemical or biological weapons, are essential to minimize the number and impact of people affected.
-Aggressively and efficiently implementing Project BioShield, a $5.6 billion program to build a national stockpile of drugs and employ other measures to counter biological and radioactive weapons. A sped up and streamlined Project is desperately needed to properly protect Americans in the event that a biological or radioactive weapon is used on American soil. A strategic plan for greater cooperation between the business sector and the government would be an excellent first step.
-Restoring funding to pay for a full strength National Guard of 350,000 members. Training for the Guard should also be expanded so as to ensure readiness when called upon for duties beyond their typical scope. In particular, the civil aspect of the National Guard, such as stabilization and reconstruction, should also be expanded. Both of these will require increased funding.
-Increasing foreign language training so that our diplomats, intelligence officers and analysts, and Skilled Forces soldiers are better able to cope with challenges the country faces abroad. Those with knowledge of lesser known languages in America, such as Farsi and Urdu, should be recruited.
-Expanding development assistance in economic, civil, and other sectors to developing nations and failed states. USAID, Peace Corps, Crisis Corps and related development, humanitarian, and emergency assistance programs and activities should be expanded.
-Expanding international de-mining efforts. Inexpensive and relatively simple to produce, mines routinely kill or maim civilians entirely unrelated to the conflict for which they were laid. Tens of thousands of civilians are affected each year in countries such as Afghanistan and Cambodia, where the conflicts in those countries ended years and sometimes decades ago. Mines also are a potential threat to US forces when they enter into peacekeeping situations, such as Bosnia.