The Department of Defense is the most discussed and most difficult department to manage in the United States government. The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. This definition means an extremely wide ranging set of responsibilities will fall upon whoever is chosen to be the head of the department, and their strategic decisions in the post 9/11 world have never been more important. The decisions have never been this difficult and the world has never been this convoluted, at least not in modern times.
The Department of Defense was established as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. This act brought together the previously disconnected branches of the military and established the Air Force and the CIA. The result of this act is what we have come to know as the Department of Defense. It is the large governing power that sets the direction and tone for our entire national defense apparatus.
Secretary of Defense
The current role is defined as “The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the President. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary of Defense exercises authority, direction and control over the Department of Defense.“
The Secretary of Defense in the US commands the entirety of our military structure, and alongside the President, makes critical decisions when it comes to our military responses in conflicts around the globe. They are extremely influential when it comes to setting and enacting foreign policy.
We are living in extremely unstable times, and a time of vast transition in philosophy atop our government. With this global instability, many are unsure of what to do, or who to turn to for guidance. What is a founding ideal we can agree on when approaching our foreign policy and our need to efficiently address the problems at hand? Many have discussed large scale combat engagement, but have given little thought about its cost, particularly the cost beyond the battlefield. Dwight Eisenhower once said
“”Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
With our current situation, occupying 2 countries in a war fighting posture, and possibly becoming re-engaged in the near future with more manpower, as well as the numerous other conflicts in Syria, Iran, North Korea and a whole host of other countries on the horizon, establishing national priorities and a steady hand as Secretary of Defense has never been more critical. We are depending on the decisions made for not only our security, but for our economic flexibility, infrastructure funding, and any hopes of ever tackling our ever growing deficit,we hope those decisions made are the correct ones.
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