Here at SOFREP, we collectively strive to be, and consider ourselves, a largely apolitical organization in that we do not often come down on one or the other side of the usually contentious left-right debate in America. True, we will occasionally weigh in on politically sensitive matters—see here, and here, and here—but, generally, we like to think that we come at these issues from a perspective that is free from the bonds of strict adherence to any one political party or agenda.

That being said, this particular SOFREP writer believes that it would be foolish to stay completely out of the coming 2016 U.S. presidential race, especially as it concerns military, national security, and veterans issues. These topics are simply far too important for us to remain on the sidelines and not weigh in on them. We’d even like to shape the debate, if we can. National security should, and will, play a leading role in the coming election.

I hope that I can speak for all of the SOFREP contributors when I say that we, collectively, believe we have a contribution to make to the debate, and a perspective that is worth sharing when it comes to issues related to America’s special operations and intelligence communities, and her national security at large.

Along these lines, I have taken the liberty of drafting the below 10 questions (not necessarily in order of importance) as a SOFREP checkpoint of sorts, through which candidates should pass on the road to the White House. It would behoove all of us here at SOFREP (both readers and writers) to hear from all of the candidates for the U.S. presidency with regards to the below issues. These are questions which I believe cannot be ignored, and it is critical for us to hear from all of those who would aspire to be the U.S. commander-in-chief on these topics.

I hope you all—the readers—agree, and feel free to add your own questions in the comments section below. Who knows? We might even get some candidates to respond to a few of these.

  1. It has been 15 years of near-continuous operations for America’s armed forces, post-9/11. Veterans have returned, and continued to return, to face issues ranging from war-wounds to suicide to unemployment. How would you, as president, deal with an often ineffective Veteran’s Administration, and the larger issue of the long-term care of America’s veterans of the Long War?
  2. Following up on question one, with regards to the high operational tempo of U.S. military forces over the past 15 years, and America’s Special Operations Forces in particular, how would you, as president, balance the persistent need for an American military presence abroad with the equally essential need to avoid over-stretching America’s already taxed military?
  3. In your view, what will the biggest single or combination of factors threatening U.S. national security interests be over the next decade? In other words, what would be your top national security priority be as president?
  4. What is your view on the so-called ‘drone program’ as an instrument in targeted assassinations? As president, would you continue its use?
  5. How would your administration defend against and respond to non-state and state-sponsored cyber warfare directed against U.S. government and business interests?
  6. Should the United States continue to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, or should the U.S. government rely more on sanctions and military options as leverage to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions? Should the United States seek a rapprochement with Iran? Why or why not?
  7. What is your plan for dealing with the Syria crisis, and the rise of ISIS that has resulted from it? How should the United States approach greater Middle-East policy in the coming decades with regards to a rising Iran, Kurdish nationalism, and increasing Sunni-Shia competition?
  8. How would you, as president, deal with a newly aggressive Russia and its seeming intention to reclaim its geopolitical primacy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia?
  9. What is your vision of America’s grand strategy, or national security strategy, for the coming decades?
  10. How would your administration deal with an economically and politically ascendant China in the coming decades? Do you foresee conflict (military or otherwise) between China and America, and what would your administration do to mitigate the potentially adverse consequences of any Sino-American conflict?