Points on Strengthening the National Security Workforce and
Promoting Education in Areas Critical to National Security
Honorable Lee H. Hamilton
before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and
March 12, 2002
-- Draft --
Thank you for inviting me to
testify before you this afternoon.
I commend you for taking up these issues of critical
importance to our national security.
In order for the United States to exercise international
leadership, America must have a highly educated population and
a national security workforce of the highest caliber.
The Homeland Security Federal Workforce Act (S. 1800)
and the Homeland Security Education Act (S. 1799) would make a
major contribution towards strengthening our nation and our
national security workforce -- by:
-- encouraging talented people to go into government service;
-- promoting exchanges and collaboration among national
-- and encouraging young people to study the fields, such as
math, science and foreign languages, that are critical to our
Over the past few years, I served on the United States
Commission on National Security/21st Century, which was
commissioned by former Defense Secretary Cohen to look at the
long-term national security challenges facing the nation and
to propose policies and reforms to meet those challenges.
One of our principal conclusions was that the federal
government must focus more attention and resources on the
human requirements for national security.
We concluded that, "The maintenance of American
power in the world depends upon the quality of U.S. government
personnel, civil and military, at all levels...
The U.S. faces a broader range of national security
challenges today, requiring policy analysts and intelligence
personnel with expertise in more countries, regions, and
issues... We must
take immediate action in the personnel area to ensure that the
United States can meet future challenges."
Our commission also emphasized the importance of promoting
high-quality education in areas, including the sciences, math,
information technology, engineering, and foreign languages,
which are critical to national security.
We concluded that, "The capacity of America's
educational system to create a 21st century workforce second
to none in the world is a national security issue of the
first-order... If we do not reverse negative educational
trends -- the general teaching shortage, and the downward
spiral in science and math education and performance -- we
will be unable to maintain our position of global
believe strongly that America's future depends upon the
ability of its educational system to produce students who
constantly challenge current levels of innovation and push the
limits of technology and discovery".
In today's world of both great danger and great opportunities,
we need a multifaceted and comprehensive approach to national
security challenges. We
need all instruments of national power at our disposal --
including diplomatic, economic, and military tools, and our
nation's unmatched expertise in many areas.
We need to organize our national security apparatus so
that diplomatic, economic and military efforts are integrated
The ability to carry out effective foreign and national
security policies requires talented professionals in many
levels of government. We
need engineers, biologists, physicists, computer specialists,
and linguists every bit as much as soldiers and politicians.
America's strength has always been tied to the innovation and
entrepreneurial talent of its people.
Only a well-trained and educated population can thrive
economically in the 21st century, thereby creating the
national prosperity that provides the foundation for national
The government needs to encourage the education necessary for
developing the skills that are critical to our 21st century
national security, and it must attract and retain a top-flight
national security workforce.
The national security workforce
May I say a few words about our national security workforce.
Although there has been a renewed public interest in national
security work since September 11, the U.S. government faces a
serious problem in attracting and retaining talented people
for key jobs in national security departments and agencies.
Part of the problem is that jobs in the private sector often
carry higher salaries and provide greater opportunities for
advancement and career development.
An additional problem is that the civil service does not
provide sufficient opportunities for people to work in various
departments and agencies and thereby gain exposure to a
broader range of issues and gain greater experience in the
In today's world, traditional national security agencies, such
as State, Defense, and the NSC, need to work together in new
ways, and economic agencies, such as Treasury and Commerce,
need to work closely with the national security community.
People working in these agencies should be given
greater opportunities to move from one agency to another.
Service Corps: To promote greater interagency movement and
collaboration, the National Security Commission recommended
the establishment of a National Security Service Corps that
would broaden the experience base of senior departmental
managers and develop leaders skilled at producing integrated
solutions to U.S. national security policy problems.
We recommended that participating departments should
include Defense, State, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, and
Energy -- but not the intelligence community so that the
firewall that exists between intelligence support and
policymaking would be preserved.
I strongly support the provision in S. 1800 for the
establishment of a National Security Service Corps.
The bill correctly points out that such a corps would
help to invigorate the national security community by
providing for more exciting and professionally rewarding
corps would strengthen the government's capacity to protect
and promote our national security.
Student loan repayment
and fellowships: I also support strongly the provisions in
S. 1800 that would:
-- 1) establish a pilot program for student loan repayment for
federal employees in national security positions;
-- and 2) establish fellowships for graduate students in
fields critical to national security who commit to government
The National Security Commission made recommendations similar
to these proposals. We
recommended the deferral of student loan repayments for
individuals who serve in government after completing their
education in fields related to work in national security.
We additionally proposed that Congress should expand
the National Security Education Act to include broad support
for social sciences, humanities, and foreign languages in
exchange for military or civilian service to the nation.
Enactment of these proposals would encourage more people to
enter national security positions by easing the financial
sacrifices often associated with graduate study and with
government service. The
measures would encourage more people to study math, science,
foreign languages, and other fields critical to national
security, and they would make it easier for people who enter
government service to pay off their student debts.
secondary, and undergraduate education
Now, may I say a brief word about education at the elementary,
secondary, and undergraduate levels.
Science and technology:
The National Security Commission concluded that America's need
for many well-trained people in science, math, computer
science, and engineering is not being met, and that if we do
not address this problem, America's position as a global
leader will be challenged.
As the internationalization of science and technology
activities, assets, and capabilities is accelerating, U.S.
advantages in many critical fields are shrinking and may be
eclipsed in the years ahead.
One reason for the problem is that American students know that
professional careers in math and science require considerable
preparation and effort, while salaries are often more
lucrative in areas requiring less demanding training.
Non-U.S. nationals, however, find these professions
attractive and they increasingly fill American university
graduate seats and jobs slots in these areas.
The American education system needs to produce significantly
more scientists and engineers to meet our nation's anticipated
demand and maintain our global leadership in science and
Expertise in science, math, and engineering is especially
critical for the defense industry, which must simultaneously
develop and defend against the most advanced technologies.
Expertise in these fields is also critical to American success
in the global economy. The
continuing advance of globalization puts a premium on
expertise in a wide range of areas, including science,
technology, and engineering.
To address this challenge, we need educational incentives to
encourage students to pursue careers in science and
technology, and we need to develop more qualified math and
science teachers in our elementary and secondary classrooms.
The National Security Commission recommended a National
Security Science and Technology Education Act, which would
-- reduced interest loans and scholarships for students to
pursue degrees in science, math, and engineering;
-- loan forgiveness and scholarships for people in these
fields entering government or military service;
-- a national security teaching program to foster science and
math teaching at the elementary and secondary levels;
-- and increased funding for the professional development of
science and math teachers.
The commission also recommended special efforts to promote
math, science, and engineering education among minorities and
in low-income communities.
The commission's recommendation to increase funding for the
professional development of science and math teachers deserves
to be underscored. The
National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for
the 21st Century (known as the Glenn Commission) estimated
that the nation will need 240,000 new science and math
teachers over the next decade.
The National Security Commission supported the Glenn
Commission's finding that $174 million in new funding is
needed to bring additional science and math teachers into the
The National Security Commission further recommended
substantial increases in the salaries of public secondary
school science and math teachers to make their salaries more
comparable to what science and math professionals could earn
in the private sector. Currently
the average salary of an entering science and math
professional in the private sector is $50,000, while the
average starting teacher earns $25,000.
Also critical for success in today's world is proficiency in
foreign languages. After
9/11, it is more clear than ever that we need people who speak
foreign languages and understand other peoples and cultures.
We simply do not have enough people trained in the
languages spoken in many parts of the world, including the
Middle East and Central and South Asia.
Language proficiency is essential to understand the
threats -- and the opportunities -- facing us across the
Language proficiency is not just essential for intelligence
collection -- though it is critical for that; it is also
essential for the pursuit of the vast array of U.S. political,
economic, and military goals.
We need Americans with experience developing relationships
with people of other cultures and languages in order to
strengthen political ties with other nations, advance free
trade, and improve military-to-military cooperation.
When crises develop or conflicts erupt in far-flung
places, we need people that are knowledgeable about those
places and can help us understand what is happening there.
The U.S. government already requires more than 34,000
employees with foreign language skills, and it is unable to
fill all of those positions with well-qualified people.
The need for people with foreign language skills will
only grow in the coming years.
S. 1799: Given our
nation's need for more expertise in math, the sciences, and
foreign languages, I strongly support S. 1799.
I particularly support its provisions to:
-- provide loans to undergraduates in engineering, science,
math, or foreign languages;
-- strengthen science and math instruction in elementary and
-- and promote foreign-language education by encouraging
greater training of foreign-language teachers and the
development of more rigorous foreign language education,
particularly in less-commonly taught languages that few
Americans are proficient in.
These measures could have a significant impact on
strengthening our nation's expertise in areas critical to
The many and complex challenges of the war on terrorism
underscore the need for the U.S. to have a top-flight national
security workforce, and to remain at the forefront of trends
in science and technology.
The devotion of greater attention and resources to the
human requirements for national security is an essential part
of a successful U.S. strategy to win the war on terrorism and
advance our many other foreign policy goals.
I commend you for your consideration of these critical issues,
and strongly support the Homeland Security Federal Workforce
Act and the Homeland Security Education Act.