LEADING ISSUES

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American power is built on our economic strength and our commitment to the U.S. Constitution. With our national debt approaching $20 trillion, our national security is at risk. As such, we must be mindful of the fiscal consequences of our foreign policy, and critical decisions must be made about how to allocate limited resources to ensure America maintains the strongest military in the world.

The following policy issues—Audit the Pentagon, BRAC, allied burden sharing, and AUMF—directly impact our security as well as our military's capabilities, strength, and effectiveness. Therefore, we aim to educate and inform citizens, thought leaders, and policy makers of their importance in an effort to improve our national defense.

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AUDIT THE PENTAGON

The Department of Defense (DoD) must properly account for the taxpayer resources it receives. DoD continues to be the primary reason the U.S. Government is unable to obtain an unqualified opinion for an audit of its consolidated financial statements, despite a two-decade-old legal requirement. While progress has been made, more is needed to ensure taxpayer funds are properly accounted for and wisely allocated. Across-the-board cuts to enforce audit-ready compliance may, however, face resistance. Approaches that trigger reforms to the structure of DoD to improve management and oversight incentives may be more feasible.

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BRAC

The time has come for a new round of BRAC. The Department of Defense (DoD) maintains significantly more domestic basing infrastructure than it needs, diverting resources away from readiness, modernization, and other higher-valued uses to provide for the common defense. DoD estimates 22% infrastructure excess by 2019—33% for the Army and 32% for the Air Force. However, Congress has blocked the DoD from conducting another round of BRAC. The 2005 BRAC combined some closures with significant realignment during a period of military expansion, so its high initial costs and longer pay-off period would not be duplicated in a new round. For an up-front cost of approximately $7 billion spread out over six years, DoD expects savings of at least $2 billion annually in perpetuity.

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BURDEN SHARING

U.S. allies must be held responsible for defending themselves and the global commons. During the Cold War, defending the free world from communist conquest and domination while they rebuilt their economies was necessary and proper. As those countries prospered, however, the justification for American protection waned. The Cold War’s end further eroded the foundations of perpetual alliances backed by foreign-deployed U.S. troops. Other advanced nations should share America’s global burdens instead of free-riding on us.

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AUMF

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution vests the power to declare war exclusively with Congress. In 2001 and 2002, Congress authorized the use of military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the government of Iraq—but neither of those applies to current missions against ISIS, a group which didn't exist at the time. If Congress supports ongoing operations against ISIS, according to our Constitution, it must first authorize the use of force limited with respect to time, geographic location, and adversaries. If Congress is unable or unwilling to pass a new AUMF, operations should necessarily end. The Constitution is clear: Only Congress can authorize war or military force, and only after such approval may the president deploy U.S. armed forces to pursue those ends.