I want to thank John Allard, Doug Thomson, and everyone here at Granite State Manufacturing for hosting us today. Here in this facility, you can see the way productivity and innovation from our private economy play a vital role in our national security.
You can see the development of cutting edge systems designed to outfit Tomahawk missiles in the air, special purpose vehicles on land, destroyers on the sea, and even Virginia-class submarines hundreds of feet below it. You can see robots that sweep for mines and dispose of bombs, and innovations that make our servicemen and women safer, more precise, and more advanced than any enemy they currently face.
The innovative nature of our private economy is one of many national security advantages that are built into who we are as a nation. The problem is that our many advantages are being compromised today by a major weakness, and that is an outdated political establishment in Washington, D.C.
We have leaders at the highest levels of our government who believe the world would be better off with a weaker, less engaged America; who make national security decisions based on politics rather than strategy; and who fail to recognize that in today’s global economy, foreign policy and domestic policy are inseparable.
These outdated leaders come from both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Their policies have undermined American strength — discouraging our allies, emboldening our enemies, and endangering our people.
Under President Obama, defense spending has been cut by nearly a trillion dollars over a decade. Our Navy is now smaller than at any time since World War I, our Army is headed for pre-World War II levels, and our Air Force has the smallest and oldest combat force in its history.
And the forces we have are not ready to fight. Just one-third of Army brigade combat teams and less than half of Air Force fighter squadrons are fully combat ready, and the Navy has only one-third of the carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups that it needs to respond to a crisis within 30 days.
America’s adversaries around the world have taken note of this. They are sprinting up behind us, investing heavily in their own forces to close the gap in military strength. China has increased its defense spending by another 10% this year, and Russia by more than 20-fold since this century began.
They and many other nations recognize what so many in Washington do not: that the future of warfare will not take place merely on land, sea, and in the air, but also in cyberspace, outer space, undersea, and overhead in the form of powerful new missiles.
We cannot survive the global perils of the 21st century with a military built for the 20th. Yet that is exactly what bad policymaking and a badly strained defense budget are forcing us to attempt.
The last seven years should be all the evidence we need that it isn’t working. The world has become more dangerous while America has become less prepared. The threats to our security have widened while our president’s vision has narrowed.
Russia has invaded its neighbors, threatened the power balance of post-Cold War Europe, and is now projecting power into Syria to defend a murderous dictator and undermine the United States.
China has sought to intimidate its neighbors and dominate the South China Sea, one of the most vital shipping lanes on earth. It has stolen intellectual property from our companies and conducted the largest cyber attack ever against our government.
North Korea is developing nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit the United States, and has lashed out with a massive cyberattack.
ISIS has created a medieval terrorist state and inspired imitators from North Africa to South Asia.
Iran has advanced its goals of acquiring nuclear weapons and dominating the entire Middle East.
And that is only a partial list.
As president, Hillary Clinton would write the sequel to President Obama’s disastrous foreign policy, sticking to the same theme of weakness and the same plot of retreat. I am running for president because America faces new threats in this century, and new leadership will be required to face them. I have the record of judgment, the breadth of experience, and the quality of leadership necessary to restore our strength and security.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will understand that defense policy is foreign policy. By maintaining the strength to defeat aggression, we deter aggression — and that gives time and space for the tools of soft power to work.
Today I’d like to share a few of my ideas on how to bring our national defense into the 21st century. This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken in detail on this subject, nor will I have time in one speech to present my entire plan, so I’d encourage you to check out my full plan for Restoring American Strength at MarcoRubio.com.
I’d like to focus my remarks today on the importance of modernizing our forces to restore readiness and innovating to meet future threats. These goals will both require reversing the devastating defense cuts that have occurred on President Obama’s watch, particularly those resulting from sequestration.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will heed the recommendation of the bipartisan National Defense Panel and return as soon as possible to the forward-thinking, strategy-driven, and fiscally sustainable budget baseline proposed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2012 before sequestration took effect.
A budget of this size is essential if we want a modern national defense. Look simply at the cost of modernizing our nuclear deterrent — an undertaking of increasing importance as more nations obtain nuclear weapons. This alone will cost up to $18 billion a year over the next decade. The current administration hasn’t made this a priority. As Commander-in-Chief, I will.
I will prioritize additional defense dollars to address critical readiness shortfalls, fix training and maintenance backlogs, and ensure our troops are ready to deploy rapidly.
Then I will set about modernizing our forces on land, sea, and in the air. This is the first goal of restoring American Strength, for we cannot worry about innovating for the future if we do not first survive the present. The threats we face in these traditional theaters of war are growing and changing, and our forces must grow and change to meet them.
We cannot pick and choose which threats we will meet. The United States must be a “full spectrum” superpower, capable of maintaining security simultaneously in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. A threat in any one of these regions could endanger our security, yet we have not previously sized our forces for all the contingencies they may face.
As President, I will ensure we have the number of personnel we need to meet these challenges. And I will ensure our personnel have the tools they need to succeed.
As President, I will never send our troops into a fair fight; I will always equip them with the upper hand and the technological edge. But today, unfortunately, they are forced to use weapons systems developed during the 1970s and ’80s, from Ticonderoga-class cruisers to Abrams tanks to B-2 Stealth bombers. Others are even older, such as the B-52, which has been flying since 1955.
If I become president, the days when a father, son and grandson all fly the same plane will be over.
To continue owning the skies against advanced fighters and missiles, we need to invest in technologies that allow us to see the enemy first, and we need laser or electromagnetic weapons to shoot down enemy missiles and aircraft.
To maintain our superiority beneath the seas, I will ensure funding for the Ohio-class replacement program. It is vital to maintaining a robust nuclear triad and to America’s undersea deterrent capabilities. It’s not fully funded now in our defense plans, but it will be if I become president.
Modernization of our undersea capabilities will directly impact the work done here in this facility. As president, I will order at least two Virginia-class submarines to be built each year, and many of the components of these will be forged and formed right behind me — by the men and women in front of me.
They will also be maintained at Portsmouth naval shipyard here in New Hampshire. Those advocating for the closing of this facility have failed to grasp the importance of our defense industrial base to our national security. That is why I join your Senator, Kelly Ayotte, who has been a great leader on these issues in Washington, in opposing a new BRAC round.
The final point I’d like to make about modernization is a vitally important one — not just to our security, but to our character as a nation. The duty to equip our military personnel for success does not end with the battle, but continues here at home. This is why I have led the fight in the Senate to create an accountable Department of Veterans Affairs, and it’s why I will continue that fight in the White House.
Modernization is crucial to restoring security today. But even as we modernize our forces on land, sea, and in the air, we must never assume future wars will be fought in the same way as wars of the past. That is why modernization must go hand in hand with innovation.
I’m sure many in Washington will roll their eyes when they hear me talk about realms such as cyber space and outer space as the new battlefields of our age. Many still see these as the stuff of science fiction. And this assumption — dangerous as it is — is nothing new. The nature of warfare is always changing, and leaders of the past are almost always blind to the changes.
When Billy Mitchell — considered by many to be the father of the U.S. Air Force — warned in 1921 that airplanes would one day be capable of sinking battleships, he was mocked all across Washington. The Secretary of the Navy responded by saying, quote, “Good God! This man should be writing dime novels.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor put those doubts to rest.
As quickly as the airplane evolved as a tool of warfare, evolutions in cyber space, outer space, and missile capabilities are happening far faster.
In cyber space alone, we’ve seen the headlines. Rogue nations and terrorist groups have been testing the fences of American cyber security with attacks on both government and private companies. A large enough cyber attack could paralyze our critical infrastructure and economy, yet somehow we still remain unprepared to face the threat.
As President, I will ensure we harden our military and civilian computer networks, and examine the sourcing of our weapons components so they are not vulnerable to attack. I will invest in offensive cyber capabilities and ensure our commanders have the tools and authorities to respond to an attack. My administration will outline a declaratory policy so our adversaries understand the consequences of attacking our cyber systems.
We must also be aware of the increasing strategic and economic importance of outer space.
Americans rely on satellites for everything from checking the weather, to GPS navigation, to communicating on our smart phones. Our military also relies heavily on space for the full range of its missions, from intelligence, to reconnaissance, to targeting.
Because of our dependence on space, adversaries are actively developing capabilities that could put U.S. assets at risk. For example, China has conducted multiple anti-satellite tests. As President, I will invest in technologies to protect our space capabilities.
We must also invest in missile defense. The 21st century differs fundamentally from the Cold War era, yet the Obama administration has not moved beyond the missile defense policies of the past.
Hostile regimes such as North Korea see missiles and nuclear weapons as means of blackmailing the United States. We should be working to take away any adversary’s ability to coerce us with these threats. But the Obama administration has instead slashed spending on missile defense by 30% since 2009 and canceled plans to deploy vital missile defense programs in a failed effort to appease Russia’s leaders.
As President, I will end policy limitations on the development and deployment of missile defense. I will fully fund missile defense programs to ensure we take maximum advantage of modern technologies and stay ahead of this growing threat.
Finally, as all of you in this room know, true advances in innovation will only be possible if we sustain a dynamic and healthy defense industrial base. We must open new pathways between the private sector and the Pentagon so our warfighters can gain access to the latest innovations.
For example, advances in 3D printing could revolutionize the way we manufacture parts. It could allow fast, on-demand production in times of need at much more affordable prices.
Our economy is constantly producing innovations such as this that, if creatively applied to our defense needs, could greatly benefit our national security. But taking advantage of them will require cutting layers of unnecessary bureaucracy at the Pentagon and making our acquisitions process more nimble and adaptive.
The innovative nature of our people is on display in this facility every day, and it gives me great optimism about the future of American Strength.
I’d like to close by noting that we are almost exactly one year away from choosing the next president of the United States. I believe the year ahead will be characterized, in no small part, by a national debate on the very subject we’re discussing today.
If ever an issue should rise above the pettiness of political gamesmanship, the importance of a strong and modern national defense should be it. But I know that’s wishful thinking. Many of our outdated leaders will continue to posture on this issue and mischaracterize my support for American Strength.
They’ll continue promoting what I believe to be the most dangerous misconception of our time — the very misconception our current president has clung to, and that has driven the discord we see around the world today. And that is the idea that a strong military is somehow a path to war.
The exact opposite is true. A robust national defense has always been about preventing war rather than promoting it. And presidents from both parties — from Kennedy to Reagan — have understood that fact. They have understood that the world is at its safest when America is at its strongest.
President Truman grasped as well as anyone the relationship between strength and peace. It was he who advocated for the creation of the Department of Defense.
In doing so, he stated, “[A] desire for peace is futile unless there is also enough strength ready and willing to enforce that desire in any emergency. Among the things that have encouraged aggression and the spread of war in the past have been the unwillingness of the United States realistically to face this fact.”
Here we stand seventy years later, and so many of our leaders are once again unwilling to face this fact — and that unwillingness is once again encouraging aggression and the spread of war throughout the world.
I am running for president because if we do not return to the bipartisan tradition of American Strength — and return to it soon — the tide of danger and discord that has swept the world in recent years will grow stronger, and that tide will eventually drag down our economy, wash away our influence, and bring danger to our shores that we will be unprepared to meet.
I am ready to argue this case to America and the world in the years ahead. I will not tire in my efforts, and I will not flag in my optimism for the future. Our nation has great reservoirs of strength we have not yet begun to tap: a dynamic and resilient people, a creative economy our adversaries cannot hope to match, and friends and partners all over the world who are waiting for us to recover our confidence.
With these strengths we cannot be discouraged, for with these strengths, we cannot fail.
So I ask you to join me today.
With strength as our organizing principle, and peace our ultimate goal, let us recommit to the task of leadership and the cause of freedom — and let us establish, together, a New American Century.