Click here to read the full piece from March 20th Politico
Despite the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, there is at least one area where Americans of all political stripes agree: The United States needs a smarter, more cost-effective national security strategy. The president has assembled just the right team for the job. The next four years present a unique historical opportunity for President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to craft the modern, 21st-century defense policy and program that Americans want.
Two-thirds of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats believe defense spending is too high, according to a 2012 study by the Stimson Center, the Center for Public Integrity and the Program for Public Consultation. Study participants favored major defense budget reductions, including on average, a 27 percent cut to spending on nuclear arms. Americans, while polarized on many issues, agree on the need to shift away from bloated budgets, outdated methods of combat and Cold War attitudes.
Now, to an unprecedented degree, leaders on both sides of the aisle share these views. Obama has surrounded himself with some of Washington’s most engaged and creative foreign policy thinkers. Kerry and Hagel were longtime national security heavyweights in the Senate; and, as Vietnam veterans, they bring a distinct perspective, particularly regarding when American soldiers should be sent into harm’s way. Biden is a seasoned foreign policy expert who has been a leader on Afghanistan, arms control and other national security issues.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard Jr. is the chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and a former executive assistant to two secretaries of defense. Terry Lierman serves on the board of directors of the Council for a Livable World. He previously served as a staffer on the Senate Appropriations Committee and in the House of Representatives.