The number one priority of our federal government is to keep America safe.  That requires bold, balanced, and smart leadership. With geopolitical threats from Russia, North Korea, and Iran and terrorist threats from radical Islam, it is essential our nation has both a strong defense and maintain a robust offensive capacity.

As a U.S. Senator, I will work to empower the four core pillars of an effective national security policy: 1) AccurateIntelligence, 2) Thoughtful Diplomacy, 3) Innovative Technology , and 4) a Strong Military.

Intelligence is one of the most important national security components.  If we don’t know where our enemies lie and what their plans are, it is impossible to prevent, deter, and combat them.  Accurate intelligence can prevent wars and if you are in a war, accurate intelligence is the difference between winning and losing.

Current law makes intelligence gathering cumbersome and despite efforts to better coordinate intelligence across agencies, there is much more to be done.  We need to empower our intelligence agencies, not politicize them.  We need to better coordinate our intelligence with our allies across the world, especially in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. And we must aggressively prosecute anyone who undermines our intelligence gathering and networks.

Diplomacy is essential to an effective foreign policy.  From the Truman Doctrine to the fall of the Soviet Union, leaders such as George Marshall and George Shultz helped the United States build long-lasting relationships abroad that played an invaluable role in keeping us safe.

We need to stop thinking of the State Department as a separate foreign policy entity from our intelligence agencies and our military and better integrate its diplomatic efforts into a grand national security agenda.

In Europe, NATO should be transformed to also focus on the threat ISIS poses to its members. In the Middle East, we ought to be building a coalition to combat a nuclear Iran and ISIS. In Asia, we should work with the Japanese, and the South Koreans and pressure the Chinese to prevent North Korea from attempting anything reckless.

Moreover, we ought to be using the economic might of the United States as a diplomatic carrot and the military as the stick.  As Theodore Roosevelt was apt to say, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Technology can be the difference between success or failure in national security.  From muskets to sailing ships to computers, the entity that has mastered the latest technology usually has been the masters of their fate.  As the home of Silicon Valley, America should have a huge technological advantage, yet state actors like the Chinese and North Koreans have consistently hacked our government and terrorist organizations like ISIS have mastered the use of social media to recruit and propagandize.

First, we need leaders who understand technology.  Second, we need to streamline the ability of our national security network to utilize the most innovative technology.  And third, technology must be thought of as a defensive andoffensive priority.  As much as we should try to plug every hole in our technology network, we will never be able to do so.  People who try to undermine our network need to understand the price they will pay if they try.

Our military is the envy of the world thanks to the courageous men and women who serve in uniform. It is our most valuable national security treasure. But it is only effective in both preventing conflict and winning conflicts when it is undeniably the strongest military in the world.

First, we must make investment in modernizing our military a key priority.  Second, we should prepare for the wars that haven’t been fought, not the ones we have.  Third, we should incorporate our military into our diplomatic missions.  These men and women are on the front lines and can be our most visible and effective diplomats. Fourth, we should leverage our military with strong alliances worldwide so that America isn’t alone fighting other people’s wars.  Fifth, we should never take military action off the table; it may not be the first option, but it must remain one.  Sixth, when we decide to engage our military, we must be prepared to do what it takes to win.  Leaving a combat zone with the mission unfulfilled creates new and more dangerous problems. And finally, we must work to ensure our veterans are cared for.  The current situation is shameful.

Protecting the American people is not only the most important priority; it also is one of the most difficult.  It takes persistence and clarity of vision.  In the Senate, I will have no higher responsibility than to do everything I can to keep the American people safe.