December 28, 1992

December 28, 1992 | Report on

A Plan for Preserving America's Military Strength

(Archived document, may contain errors)

December 28, 1992


I pledge to maintain military forces strong enough to deter and when necessary to defeat any threat to our essential interests.

Bill Clinton December 12,1991, speech at Georgetown University

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY President-elect Clinton, during the campaign you committed yourself to maintaining a strong national defense. You said that the U.S. must have adequate military strength to deter, and if necessary defeat, any threat to the nation's vital interests. Thus, you committed yourself to a military that retains a nuclear deterrent, is able to project power overseas, preserves America's lead in space systems, and is well-trained and equipped for combat. These defense goals are laudable. However, during the campaign you also made statements that appear to contradict them. For example, while you say you support a survivable nuclear de- terrent, you also endorse the idea of banning nuclear tests, which are necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of the nuclear arsenal. Moreover, while you talk about the need for the ca- pability to project American power overseas, you also want to cut the number of U.S. aircraft carriers-the central element in the nation's power projection forces-from twelve to ten. To clear up the confusion, you should make a speech that affirms your campaign commit- ments to strengthen American defenses. In this speech, you should not only reaffirm specific commitments, but overcome some of your earlier contradictions. To do this you should: if Set a floor on the overall size of the military. You have promised to cut $60 billion from President Bush's $1.42 trillion five-year defense budget. This reduction is too large. You should set not arbitrary funding levels, but a specific force structure. This force would include twelve active duty Army divisions, twelve active duty Air Force tactical wings, 450 Navy ships, and 177,000 active duty Marines. This force would cost about $1.4 trillion over five years, or about the level of defense spending projected by the Bush Administration.

I The twelve active duty Army divisions recommended here include the eqWvalent of two divisions in brigades and regiments that me not organized into divisions.

2 A Plan for Preserving America's A4ilitary Strength

tf Maintain the nuclear triad. The U.S. has pledged to reduce its strategic nu- clear arsenal from the current level of 13,000 to 3,500 warheads. This makes it more necessary than ever to retain the three legs of the nuclear tdad-sea-, land-, and air-based nuclear weapons. The reason: At lower levels of forces, greater di- versity of deployment is needed to protect them from surprise attack.

Commit specific forces to project power to specific regions. Power projection is now the most important mission for the military. With fewer forces deployed overseas, America must be able to project military power from U.S. territory. To guide the military as it restructures its forces, you thus should make specific commitments about the size and composition of the forces you are pre- pared to send to distant regions. For example, you should plan to allocate forces roughly the size of those used in Operation Desert Storm to defend U.S. interests in the Middle East in time of conflict.

of Continue to produce, not just develop, now generations of weapons. Advanced technology is America's trump card in defeating its enemies on the battlefield. This was amply demonstrated in the Persian Gulf War. To retain its technological edge on the battlefield, America will have to build new generations of weapons, and not just develop prototypes to put "on the shelf."

of Set dates for the deployment of defenses against both short-range and long-range Missiles. The American people and U.S. military forces all deserve protection against missile strikes. Specific commitments should be made to field defenses against short-range missiles by 1996 and long-range missiles by 2002.

of Establish a now policy for ensuring U.S. access to and control of space In the event of conflict. Prevailing in a conflict requires that the U.S. military control space. The military depends on satellites and other space systems for intelligence, communications, navigation, and warning of attack. A clear and comprehensive policy needs to be established to ensure that the U.S. can control space during wartime.

v( Retain an effective military force focused on Its mission. America must not recreate the "hollow farce, of the 1970s, when weapons did not work for lack of spare parts and U.S. troops were poorly trained. This means not only funding training and maintenance programs, but designing a force that includes no more than four reserve Army divisions, nine reserve Air Force tactical wings and 16,000 reservists in the Marine Corps.2 Maintaining combat readiness also requires that you not undermine morale or distract the military from its mission. Therefore, you should not lift the ban on homosexuals serving in the military, not allow women in combat, and avoid assigning the Pentagon such non-military tasks as environmental research and urban assistance.

2 Ile four Army reserve divisions recommended here include separate brigades that@ although not organized into a division, are die equivalent of a division in number of troops.

A Plan for Preserivng America's Military Strength

SEVEN COMMITMENTS ON DEFENSE During the presidential campaign you or Senator Gore made seven commitments designed to strengthen the nation's defense. They were:

Commitment #1: Maintain a strong force. You said: "I pledge to maintain military forces strong enough to deter and when necessary to defeat any threat to our essential interests." December 12, 199 1, speech at Georgetown University.

Commitment #2: Retain a nuclear deterrent. You said: "But as an irreducible minimum, we must retain a survivable nuclear force to deter any conceivable threat." December 12, 199 1, speech at Georgetown University.

Commitment #3: Project power overseas. You said: "We need a force capable of pro- jecting power quickly when and where it is needed." December 12, 199 1, speech at Georgetown University.

Commitment #4: Deploy high-tech weaponry. You said: "We must maintain our techno- logical edge." December 12, 199 1, speech at Georgetown University.

Commitment #5: Deploy missile defenses. You said: "First, we would develop and de- ploy theater-based [missile] defense systems-like Patriot and its successors-to defend U.S. troops and allies against the existing threat of short-range missile attack.... Second, we should focus strategic defense research on a limited defense of the United States against the possibility of new ICBM threats.... Third, we should support a prudent re- search program on more advanced follow-on anti-missile technologies." Interview in the July 13, 1992, edition of Defense Week

Commitment #6: Recognize the Importance of space In military operations. Sena- tor Gore said: "Bill Clinton and I recognize the role our aerospace industry plays in pre, serving our national security ...... October 19, 1992, statement at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Commitment #7: Keep U.S. forces ready for combat. You said: "Our new military must be more ready, because the new world will be unpredictable." Speech to the Los An- geles World Affairs Council on August 13, 1992.

CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS These seven commitments are the foundation of a sound defense policy for the post-Cold- War era. However, during the campaign you muddled your message on defense by making statements that contradict these commitments. For example:

Contradiction #1: You made a commitment to maintain a strong, combat-ready force. Yet you also pledged to cut the defense budget by $60 billion by 1997. These two goals are contradictory. Shrinking the defense budget by $60 billion will reduce the size of the force too much. Existing security commitments will not be met, the purchase of needed weap- ons will be deferred, and training will suffer.

4 A Plan for Preserving America's Military Strengili

Contradiction #2: You pledged to make progress on fielding anti-missile defenses. Yet you also endorsed large-scale funding reductions for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) pro- gram. Large-scale funding reductions for SDI will cripple the effort to field anti-missile defenses.

Contradiction #3: You promised America a combat-ready military force. Yet you support those in Congress who wish to cut active forces while retaining a large reserve force that is not ready for combat. Reservists, who train only periodically, cannot be as combat- ready as those active-duty forces that train full time.

MAKING GOOD ON CAMPAIGN PLEDGES To overcome this problem of contradictory statements, you should reaffirm. your intention to fulfill your seven campaign commitments. Doing this, however, will require jettisoning other commitments that, if honored, not only will contradict your stated defense commitments, but will muddle your strong defense message. Thus, early in your administration, you should make a speech articulating your national secu- rity policy. In this speech you should:

Establish the minimum size of U.S. military forces. Maintaining the forces strong enough to deter, and if necessary to defeat, potential enemies, as outlined in your first commitment, means establishing a minimum level of forces. Your goal should be that the U.S. retain at least twelve active Army divisions, twelve active Air Force tac- tical fighter wings, 450 Navy ships, and 177,000 Marines on active duty. 3 Of course, you cannot build this force and keep By 1987, Defense Spending as a Share your pledge to slash an addi- of the Economy Will Drop to a 50-Year Low tional $60 billion fi-om the Bush Administration's five- Defense Spending as a Share of GDP year defense plan. Thus, you 16% : should acknowledge in your national security speech that maintaining a force of the size you want, armed with high technology weapons, might cost more than you in- 6 dicated in the campaign. In acknowledging this, you 4 should add that the Bush 2 plan will reduce the defense burden, as a percentage of 1950 1965 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 gross domestic product, to 3.6 percent, which is the low- Note: Data are for Fiscal Years. est level since before World Source: Budget of the U.S. Govomment, FY 1993. Historical Tables. War 11. 1 Heritage DataChort

3 The twelve active Army divisions described here includes brigades and regiments not organized into divisions and as such is descriptive of the overall size of the Army force.

A Plan for Preserivng America's Military Strength 5

Military Force Reductions: Current Plans Facing the Clinton Administration

Heritage End FY 1991 Bush Base Recommended Force Force Floor Force

Army 19 Active* 14 Active* 12 Active' Divisions 16 Reserve" 8 Reserve--- 4 Reserve"

Air Force 22 Active 16 Active 12 Active %tgi@ Tactical Wings 12 Reserve 11 Reserve 9 Reserve

Navy 528 Ships 450 Ships 450 Ships 15 Carriers--- 13 Carriers"* 13 Carriers---

I-IMMEML- Marine Corps 194,000 Active 159,000 Active 177,000 Active Personnel 45,000 Reserve 35,000 Reserve 16,000 Reserve Accounts for separate brigades and regiments not organtzed Into divisions. I Accounts for separate brigades riot organbBd Into dIvisons, but does not Include 2 cadre dIvIsons. ... Includes training carder.

Commit yourself to retaining a modern strategic triad even at a reduced level of forces. Ile agreement reached last June with Russia to reduce U.S. and Russian strategic warheads to 3,500 should not be interpreted as step toward eliminating nuclear weapons altogether. Pro- tecting U.S. security will require a minimum level of nuclear forces. While your second commit- ment-to retain a survivable nuclear force-requires you to support the continued deployment of nuclear forces, you have not provided details. To fill out your position, you should say in your speech that:

of The reduction in American nuclear forces depends on whether Russia and the other nuclear-armed republics of the former Soviet Union reduce or eliminate their nuclear weapons.

Even if Russia and the others cooperate on arms reductions, you will not re- duce the U.S. strategic nuclear force below the 3,500-warhead limit.

ve Even at reduced levels,, you will preserve the strategic triad. This will assure that the remaining force is both survivable and flexible. It is important to recog- nize as well, that the long-range bomber force can play an important role in force projection when armed with conventional bombs.

or The U.S. reserves the option to retaliate with nuclear weapons if its terri- tory, forces, or allies are attacked with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Preserving this option may help deter future U.S. adversaries from at- tacking with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

6 A Plan for Preserving America's Military Strength

Your commitment to a strong nuclear deterrent is contradicted by the 1992 Democratic Party Platform, which calls for a comprehensive nuclear test ban. The periodic testing of nuclear weapons is necessary to ensure their safety and reliability. Thus, you should insist that the U.S. be allowed to test its nuclear weapons for as long as they exist in the arsenal. To do this, you will have to overturn the decision made by Congress earlier this year to impose a 1996 deadline for ending all nuclear tests.

Specify the forces that you plan to retain In order to project power to distant regions of the globe. You were correct to demand that U.S. forces be able to respond quickly to military threats around the globe. The U.S. must commit itself to preventing hostile powers from dominating or destabilizing East Asia, Europe, and the Persian Gulf. Such a commitment will serve to protect vital U.S. interests by assuring a global balance of power. Therefore, in your speech you should describe the forces America is prepared to commit to each of these regions. Further, the U.S. needs additional forces capable of winning smaller conflicts in less important regions. Together, these power projection forces should enable the U.S. to prevail simultaneously in one major conflict and one smaller conflict. The size of American military forces dedicated to maintaining security in East Asia should be modeled on the requirement to defend South Korea from an attack by North Korea. This is not to say that defending South Korea is the sole purpose of U.S. forces in East Asia. An important political purpose of these forces will be to keep Japan secure under the U.S. defense umbrella and thereby prevent a regional arms race. Mounting a defense of South Korea will require at least one armor division, one infantry division, one light division, one air assault division, and one airborne division for the Army; one Marine Expeditionary Force; sixteen tactical air squad- rons for the Air Force; and seventy ships (including four aircraft carriers) for the Navy. The force dedicated to safeguarding American interests in the Middle East should be mod- eled on the force that fought the Persian Gulf War. Thus, in time of war the U.S. must be able to send to the Middle East six heavy armor and mechanized divisions, one light division, one air assault division, and two armored cavalry regiments for the Army; three brigades deployed on land and at least one at sea for the Marines; 24 tactical air squadrons for the Air Force; and seventy ships (including four aircraft carriers) for the Navy. A U.S. presence in Europe is necessary to safeguard American interests there and to ensure stability during this period of rapid change. This means adapting the North Atlantic Treaty Orga- nization (NATO) to new political realities. Doing so requires that associate membership in NATO be extended to the countries of Eastern Europe that adhere to democracy, a free market, and respect for their neighbors. This associate membership, however, should not include extend- ing the U.S. nuclear umbrella over these countries. The peacetime U.S. force deployed in Europe should include one reinforced Army division and one Air Force tactical air wing, roughly 75,000 troops in all. The forces required to help re- spond to a crisis in Europe will depend on what threats may arise in the future. Nevertheless, if a crisis is imminent, the U.S. should rebuild its presence in Europe to the levels that existed in 1990: seven Army divisions, eight tactical fighter wings for the Air Force, and four aircraft car- riers for the Navy. Finally, the U.S. should retain additional forces to handle a smaller conflict, such as the 1989- 1990 Operation Just Cause, which ousted Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. This force should include: one infantry brigade, one battalion of armor, one mechanized battalion, one air- borne battalion, one Ranger battalion, one Marine Expeditionary Unit (NEU), four tactical air

A Plan for Preserivng America's Military Strength 7

squadrons, one special operations air group, two carrier task forces, and various special opera- tions units. Unfortunately, Mr. Clinton, your commitment to emphasize power projection forcel was con- tradicted by your promise to reduce the number of aircraft carriers from twelve to ten. Ten car- riers are not enough to cover all of America's far-flung regional commitments. Given that th:ree or four of the carriers will be in port for maintenance at any one time, perhaps as few as six car- riers will be available to patrol the world's oceans. The result will be carriers at sea for intolera- bly long periods of time, perhaps the better part of a year. Thus, in your speech you should correct your course, stating that the Navy needs at least twelve operational aircraft carriers, in addition to the one training carrier.

Insist on producing, not just developing, high technology weapons. High technology is America's trump card in war. You acknowledged as much in your fourth defense commitment-to maintain the U.S. military's technological edge. Some in Congress, however, mistakenly believe that this can be done by devel- oping advanced weapons proto- The Beginings of a "Paper TigsFO`- Research is types and "putting them on the Growing While Procurement Funds are Declining shelf' until needed. There are four reasons why this is a dan- $100 Defense Budget Authority (Billions of Dollars) gerous misconception. Procurement Reason #1: An arsenal rely- so . ...... . . ..... . . .......................... . . ... RDT&E ....... . . ... ing heavily on weapon pro- totypes will have too few 60 .................... . . . ..... . . ............................... ................................. . . . ... operational weapons for war-fighting. Proponents 40 . ............................................................................................................................ of prototyping assume that America will have plenty 201 of warning to gear up for a 1990 1991 1"2 1993 major war. Given the un- certainty in the former SO- N ote: 1993 figures represent requested levels. viet Union, this is an RDT&E - Reseach, Development. Test and Evaluation. assumption the U.S. can- Source: Department of Defense. Heritage OutuChart not afford to make.

Reason #2.,To be effective using high technology weapons, troops must train with them on a routine basis, something that cannot be done with an off-the-shelf prototype.

Reason 0., Many important technological advances in weapons are made as they go into pro- duction cycle. For example, the electronic navigation, flight control and targeting systems (avionics) for jet fighters often are improved during and after production. This is because combat pilots learn the characteristics of fighters as they train with them. Suggested im- provements are then incorporated into the future avionics packages. These improvements would be lacking on technologically stagnant prototypes.

4 "Clinton. Shines New Light On Defense Views As Nomination Nears," DefenseWeek July 13,199Z p. 14.

8 A Plan for Preserving America's Military Strength

Reason #4: Overemphasizing research and development at the expense of production will un- dermine the nation's military industrial base. The reason: a healthy industrial base depends on operating production lines. Nfilitary industry will not maintain idle production lines in anticipation of a future crisis. Absent production, the industrial capacity in the defense sec- tor will wither. To ensure that American forces have a sufficient number of weapons when they need them, you should order the Pentagon to produce-not just develop-such important weapons as the F-22 advanced tactical fighter, V-22 Osprey transport aircraft, and the Theater Fligh Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. Your commitment to a high-tech military is contradicted by your promise to slash spending for SDI, which is the Pentagon's most important advanced technology program. It is working on highly capable sensor systems, advanced computers, and new rocket technologies that are relevant not only for strategic defense, but for other military missions. If you reduce the SDI program too much, you undoubtedly will inflict significant damage on the military's ability to fight with the world's most advanced weaponry.

Set specific target dates for the deployment of defenses against short- range and long-range missiles. Of all the statements you made during the campaign on defense, none have been more confus- ing and contradictory than those you have made about the SDI program. For example, while you have promised to make progress on building anti-missile defenses, you also have advo- cated deep cuts in the SDI program. This goal cannot be met if the SDI program suffers major funding reductions. The development and deployment of anti-missile defenses requires not only testing such systems as the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missile, but building them as well. If these often expensive tests are not conducted, SDI cannot be reliably deployed. Large-scale funding cuts for SDI will reduce the program to a very expensive research project. You also want the U.S. to observe strictly the 1972 SDI Research and Development: Cuts in Anti-Ballistic Nfissile Space-Based Systems Will Yield Few Savings (ABM) Treaty, which pro- hibits the deployment of 111111ons of Dollars wide-scale defenses. Strict observance of the ABM M Space-BasedSydems Treaty, however, will pre- El Ground-Based Syslems vent the deployment of ef- $3 .......... ...................... ............................................. ..... fective defenses against ballistic missiles. Your ad- 2 - . ................... . ................................ US: visors probably have told you that the ABM Treaty, which was aimed at long- range or strategic" mis- siles, does not stand in the way of deploying defenses 1988 1989 IM Mi IM im against short- and interme- diate-range (theater) mis- Note: Figures are for Fiscal Years. 1988-1992 are appropriations, 1993 Is the Amended Budget Request. siles. But they are wrong. Source: Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. Heritage DotaChort Even though the intent of the treaty was not to restrict theater anti-missile defenses, its technical requirements have that effect. This is because in some instances it is impossible to distinguish between theater and

A Plan for Preserivng America's Military Strength 9 long-range (strategic) defenses. If a system is deemed to be capable of countering a long-range missile, it is restricted by the treaty. The THAAD system is likely to be this category. Strict observance of the ABM Treaty also will undermine the strategic defense negotiations with the Russians. If Moscow chooses to modify or even abandon the ABM Treaty, the U.S. po- sition will slow progress in the negotiations. You also mistakenly have downplayed the missile thmat to America. But the missiles in the former Soviet Union and China still exist and could be launched accidentally at the U.S. More- over, if nations like China and Russia continue to sell missiles and missile components to Third World thugs, the missile threat to America may arise faster than is now forecast by the intelli- gence community. Remember that even at the Bush Administration's proposed funding levels for SDI, it will be over ten years before a nation-wide defense against small-scale missile strikes is deployed. Given the growing proliferation threat, you should not allow SDI deploy- ment dates to slip. You can clarify your position by announcing that your goal is to deploy defenses against short- and intermediate-range missiles by 1996. Deployment of defenses against small-scale strikes (comprising fewer than 200 attacking warheads) from long-range missiles should take place by no later than 2002.

Announce a policy that will ensure that the U.S. controls space In the event of a conflict. One of the most important lessons of the Persian Gulf War is that space-based systems for in- telligence-gathering, communications, navigation, and early warning are critical to success on the battlefield. U.S. forces depended more on satellites during that war than at any other time in history. As this lesson makes clear, the ability to control space during times of armed conflict will be increasingly important in the future. The U.S. now has an historic opportunity to estab- lish control over space in much the same way it controlled the open seas after World War II. Therefore, after your inauguration, you should establish a space policy that, at a minimum, achieves the following goals:

Goal #1: Protect U.S. space systems; against attack or interference. If an enemy can easily undermine U.S. space systems that are used to support combat operations by either attack- ing them directly or interfering with their electronic signals, they will quickly be rendered useless during a conflict. This new policy must ensure that U.S. military satellites are sur- vivable.

Goal #2., Counter enemy satellites. Space systems have as much value to enemy forces as to U.S. forces. In recognition of this fact, the U.S. military must be able to destroy enemy sat- ellites during a conflict.

Goal #3: Limit the proliferation of space technology. The spread of military space technol- ogy to outlaw regimes such as Iran, Iraq, and Libya will pose a threat to U.S. interests. This policy should include proposals for limiting the access of Third World countries to this technology, including space-launch rockets, satellites, anti-satellite weapons, and sat- ellite receiving units.

10 A Plan for Preserving America's Military Stiength

Pledge to retain a force that is active, professional, and not distracted from Its mission. Combat readiness is a key ingredient of military power. A well-trained and equipped force is needed not only to win battles, but to assure low casualties. To maintain a combat-ready force, you should establish a set of goals. They are:

Goal #1: Emphasize active-duty over reserve forces. During the campaign you indicated that you may support greater reliance on National Guard and Reserve forces. This would be a mistake. Troops that train periodically cannot be as ready for combat as those that train every day. As such, Army Reserve Forces: Pentagon, you should establish ceil- ings for Guard and Re- Not Congress, Wants Biggest Troop Cuts serve manpower levels at: ftusands of Troops to be Cut In FY IM four Amy reserve divi- sions, nine Air Force tac- 100 . ........ ............................................................ ...................... tical air wings, and

Goal #2.- Maintain a profes- 40 ..... ............... ............... sional, all-volunteer mil- itary. During the 20 :X* campaign you pledged N your support for some Army Army Total Army Reserve kind of national service. National Guard Reserve Component Cuts However, it is unclear Pentagon Planned House of Representatives whether you included mil- Reserve Cuts Im Authorization Bill Reserve Cuts itary service as an option. Source: Department of Defense. Heritage OulaChart You should state in your national security speech that military service is not an option under this program. The pres- ence in the military of conscripts who do not want to be there only would undermine com- bat readiness and morale.

Goal #3.- Maintain a force focused on its military mission. The armed forces exist for the sole purpose of defending the United States from outside military threats. Today, however, there are growing calls for using the armed forces for a variety of purposes not related to national defense-for example, rebuilding inner cities, providing discipline and education for troubled youth, rehabilitating criminals, and conducting environmental research. These tasks are serious distractions for the military. It is difficult enough today to field an ef- fective force without requiring it to assume additional and unnecessary tasks. If non-combat missions such as these become a focus of military training, rather than a side benefit, they will undermine combat readiness and inevitably cost American lives.

S Ile fbur Army divisions described here include brigades that are not organized into divisions and therefore only describe the size of the relevant forces. Nor do these divisions include the Bush Administration's proposal for two "cadre!'divisions.

A Plan for Preserivng America's MiHtary Strength I I

A more ominous development is the use of the military for social experiments. Feminists and others are seeking to remove all restrictions on allowing women in combat, and gay rights activ- ists are demanding an end to the Pentagon's well-founded ban on homosexuals in uniform. They argue that the purpose of the armed forces is to provide equal career opportunities to women and homosexuals, and that the armed forces need the best individuals they can get, re- gardless of their sex or sexual orientation. Both arguments are wrong. The purpose of the armed forces is to defeat an enemy as quickly and with as few American casualties as possible. This means that the first priority of the Penta- gon should be an effective fighting force, and not some social program. Only when the differ- ences among troops are minimized can they perform capably in combat. Individual sexual identity causes unpredictable distractions and has unpredictable implications; it is too big a problem to allow in a military unit. When it comes to risking lives in combat, prudence should take precedence over ideology.

CONCLUSION Mr. Clinton, a military failure can destroy your presidency. You need look no farther than the failed Iran hostage mission in 1980 to find an example. You can prevent such a failure by main- taining a strong national defense: You are lucky. You have inherited an American fighting force that is the best in history. It would be utter folly to let this force wither because of an unclear and inconsistent defense policy. The nation, our allies, and our potential adversaries need to know that your pro-defense statements made during the campaign were true and serious.

Baker Spring Senior Policy Analyst

About the Author

Baker Spring F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy