Rebuilding America's Military Strength

Report Defense

Rebuilding America's Military Strength

February 9, 2001 30 min read

Authors: General Charles Horner and Hon. James Schlesinger

KIM R. HOLMES: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kim Holmes. I am Vice President of The Heritage Foundation and Director of its Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. It is a pleasure to have all of you here this afternoon.

Twenty years ago, when Heritage was a much smaller institution, Ed Feulner handed over a huge volume to Ed Meese, who, as all of you know, was one of President Reagan's top aides at the time. Entitled Mandate for Leadership, this book of policy recommendations became a bible of sorts for the early years of the Reagan Administration. It helped lay out a vision and an agenda for what became one of the country's most successful Administrations. Twenty years later, we are about to inaugurate a new President, and Heritage has once again entered the fray with a series of projects to help the next President.

We are here today to talk about one of these projects, specifically a task force report laying out a strategy on a key issue: national defense.1 This report, and a companion piece on ballistic missile defense, will be followed by other studies on such key foreign policy issues as what to do about China, Russia, and Europe and how to formulate a sensible policy toward international trade and finance. We plan to release these reports during the remainder of the year.

Early next year, we will assemble all of these reports, including similar chapters on domestic policy, and release them in a new book entitled Priorities for the President. Our hope is that this book will give the next President guidance on how to get the policy ball rolling after this very long and difficult political crisis surrounding the presidential election. This book will be one of a series of products included in our Mandate for Leadership project.

We have already produced a book, Keys to a Successful Presidency, that builds on the combined wisdom of top former officials in every Administration since John F. Kennedy's. In this book, we lay out proposals on how the President can best organize his team and his agencies, communicate his message, work with Congress, and generally lead in a more effective way. Another such product will be a book proposing new federal budget priorities for fiscal year 2002.

Our purpose with all of these publications is to allow the next President to hit the ground running. Given the truncated transition that has resulted from the contested presidential election, it looks as if our next President will need all the help he can get in this regard. We have tried to achieve four things with our task force policy reports.

First, we have focused only on those areas that are most important. We have avoided trying to cover everything. We have concentrated only on those issues that will make the most difference to the country in our estimation, and to the success or failure of the next President.

Second, we have tried to involve the most experienced and best experts in the business, and we have with us this afternoon some of our most prominent contributors in this regard.

Third, we have focused on practical results. We have avoided the typical laundry list of proposals. Instead, we have focused on the "how-to" in addition to the "what." Our reports contain practical advice on how to implement the proposals we make.

Finally, we chose areas where we believe a broad consensus exists to get things done, where the time is ripe to move ahead with reform or change.

Before I introduce our guest speakers, let me say something about the political environment in which the next President will find himself. If George W. Bush becomes President, as it looks like he will, he will have to demonstrate a special kind of leadership in foreign and defense policy. He will not only have to restore American military strength and credibility abroad, but he will have to work with thin majorities in Congress and an appearance, at least, of divided public opinion.

However, contrary to what some may think, I believe that this new situation facing a President Bush presents more opportunities than problems in the areas of foreign and defense policy. There are areas where broad agreement already exists in principle. Most Republicans and Democrats believe that something more needs to be done to shore up our national defense system. Most Republicans and Democrats believe that we should expand free trade. And there is even a consensus that something must be done about this country's vulnerability to ballistic missiles, although there are significant differences over the details of how exactly to deal with this problem.

President Bush will have to lead in such a way as to ensure that the bipartisan support that exists in principle will be implemented in his particular policy prescriptions. There will not be bipartisan support for everything he does. Indeed, he should not expect or even ask it on everything. But neither should he throw up his hands and think that nothing can be done because the recent political environment has been so poisonous.

To help us navigate our ways through these new political waters, we have with us three of the nation's most prominent leaders in national defense policy. All of them have been important contributors to the task force report that you have before you, and I have asked each of them to give you their views on what problems the next President will face in the area of national defense and, more important, to provide you with their insights into what should be done about these problems.

Let me say now how grateful all of us at Heritage are to Secretaries Caspar Weinberger and James Schlesinger, and also to General Charles Horner, not only for their contributions to our reports, but also for being here today to help us unveil the first of our policy reports. So I will introduce our first speaker, Secretary Schlesinger.

Secretary Schlesinger has had a distinguished career in government service, the business world, and public policy research institutions. Few Americans have contributed more than James Schlesinger to the making of energy policy in this country. In fact, he was the key leader in creating federal institutions that govern energy policy. Dr. Schlesinger has been Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He later established the plan to create the Department of Energy and was the first Secretary of Energy. Dr. Schlesinger also played key roles in dealing with the various oil crises in the 1970s, particularly in helping Japan to reduce its dependency on international energy markets.

As Secretary of Defense for President Nixon, Dr. Schlesinger played an important role in shaping U.S. defense policy. He adjusted NATO's strategy to emphasize a strong conventional deterrent as a counter to the Soviet Union's growing nuclear arsenal. As anyone familiar with NATO's history will know, this was a crucial decision, and not merely for addressing the military imbalances that existed at the time. In later years, when President Reagan and Secretary Weinberger moved to build up America's conventional and nuclear forces in Europe, they could build on the decisions already made by James Schlesinger as to the necessity of strong conventional forces to NATO's deterrent posture.

Today, James Schlesinger serves as senior adviser to the investment banking firm of Lehman Brothers and is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Mitre Corporation. Please join me in welcoming Dr. James Schlesinger.

JAMES SCHLESINGER: We have met here today to discuss the problems of the armed forces of the United States, and let me say at the outset that this is a document well worth reading, and we are indebted to Jack Spencer for having put it together.

Kim mentioned that these are priorities for the President when we have a President. I don't think there's any doubt that we will have a President. It looks increasingly as if it's going in one direction, but one can say that, complimenting Al Gore, he is not one of those who goes quietly into the night. Indeed, we are grateful to him because he has elicited a response from the press, talking about the statesmanship of Richard Nixon. Who else could have achieved that?

We are addressing today the question: What is the current status of the U.S. armed forces? The current status of the U.S. armed forces is that it is the outstanding military force in the world, compared with its present rivals. But it's not only the current status; it's the trend that we are concerned with, and included in the current status is a steady deterioration of the U.S. armed forces.

Living on Borrowed Time
If there is such a thing as living on borrowed time, the armed forces of the United States are doing that. This reflects the advantages that we have here in the year 2000 of not having a clearly defined major threat. It permits us the luxury of complacency and ignoring the requirements of the armed forces. So this is a time that we should wake up and recognize that pride goeth before the fall.

Our problem is that there is a deeply held belief now in American society that our position of unquestionable power in the year 2000 is something that will go on forever without our making the effort to sustain it. That position of power is based not only on having the outstanding military capability in the world, but also on our preeminent economic position. We are the center of this globalized world economy, which gives us great influence over, for example, the Russian Federation, which would have liked to rebuff us over our attacks on Serbia but was in a position in which it was dependent upon resources from the United States.

Now, this position will not last forever. Inevitably, it will decline. But the pace of that decline depends upon what we do, and we are going to have to do more for our armed forces.

Deteriorating Morale
There are three areas of problems. First is the morale of the armed forces, which has deteriorated and is deteriorating, reinforced perhaps by this recent assault on whether or not military absentee ballots should actually be counted. The morale is deteriorating for a variety of reasons, not primarily because of salary. Under the label of compensation, it's other areas than salary. It is a question of medical care for one's family. And right now, most of the people in the armed forces are married, as opposed to two decades ago, so we have that problem. But it is a whole range of other issues.

We do not have, at this time, junior officers who look up to their immediate commander and say, "that is an enviable position." Admiral John Natter did a study some two years ago for the Navy, and the Navy senior officials were shocked to discover that only 11 percent of service officers aspire to a position of command. When I was Secretary of Defense after Vietnam, more than half of those who were junior officers would have aspired to a position of command.

Why was that? Because they discovered that their own bosses were harried, and they had doubts about the senior military leadership of the department. Why, you may ask, did they focus on the senior military leadership? Actually, they never thought very much about the civilian leadership in the first place. It is a question of the political correctness that is now imposed upon the department: the necessity of spending endless hours, days, in sensitivity training on one subject or another.

I could go down the list, but I'll just note one thing here, and that is that last year, 13 percent of the captains in the U.S. Army left the service voluntarily. If you think about it very long, you cannot sustain an officer corps when 13 percent are leaving in just one year.

The second major issue is that our military forces are overpressed. They are overcommitted. That requires those in the services to be away much of the time in overseas assignments, away from their families. Given the proclivity of the U.S. government to commit ourselves in more and more areas, we have too small a force to carry out those responsibilities.

We say that we are building a force for two MRCs, two major regional conflicts. We do not have the forces today for two major regional conflicts. Indeed, the Air Force basically in Kosovo had the effect of having one MRC in what was a secondary national encounter. Those forces are overpressed, and if you keep rotating individuals out from their assignments, you will discover that your retention rate is too low. Our retention rate at the present time is too low, and we are not recruiting sufficiently to sustain the armed forces.

Inadequate Procurement
The third major problem is the extended procurement holiday that we have been on essentially since the budgets of the Reagan Administration. In a study that was done some time ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that depreciation on the equipment of the armed forces amounts to over $100 billion a year.

We have been spending $40 billion-$45 billion on procurement. That means that the equipment is aging. Fighter planes are too old. We've given up tank production. The Navy is gradually, at the present rate of procurement, moving toward a 200-ship Navy. And if we are to sustain the Quadrennial Defense Review forces that the Administration itself says are essential for us, we need to spend far more on procurement.

I mentioned over $100 billion a year of depreciation. Various parties argue with that. The Congressional Budget Office said we're only about $90 billion short, I believe, on an annualized basis for the armed forces, of which $60 billion needs to go to procurement. Others disagree. The Administration itself admits that we are $10 billion to $20 billion low at the end of the future year's defense plan in terms of procurement. The Administration has admitted that.

In other words, there's no longer a question of whether we are spending too little to sustain the armed forces. The question is how big the gap is, and it is plain that the estimates will vary, but we will need something on the order of $50 billion to $90 billion more a year if we are to sustain the QDR forces and do other things which are not included in the present program, such as ballistic missile defense. That will not come without some diversion of resources.

So if we are prepared to ignore the long run, which is a temptation for many, and particularly for a democracy at this time, we are doing it. We are investing more in maintaining capabilities at present than we are in sustaining the armed forces over time. As I said at the outset, if there is something like living on borrowed time in the long run, we are doing it.

Growing Dependence on Space
I shall make one final comment and then leave it to General Horner. The United States today is becoming ever more dependent on space operations. The global positioning system (GPS) tells us where to go and how to fire our precision-guided weapons at targets. That is a potentially vulnerable system. We are dependent on satellites, so we must have a capability to protect our resources in space if we are going to fulfill the mission that the government has accepted for the United States, a mission of being this worldwide stabilizing power. We cannot do that and retain public support unless we are able to keep the cost of such a mission low in terms of casualties. The public is prepared to support such a mission as long as the casualties are not large. Thus, we are dependent on the capabilities that space gives us.

DR. HOLMES: Our next speaker has a long and distinguished career of military service. General Charles Horner retired from the United States Air Force after serving as Commander in Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the United States Space Command, and Commander of the Air Force Space Command.

During his career, he commanded two tactical fighter wings, two air divisions, the Air Defense Weapons Center, and the 9th Air Force. He also commanded the United States Central Command, and during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he was in command of all U.S. and allied assets. In that capacity, he played a key role in the defeat of Saddam Hussein's military forces. He was a brilliant tactician and a great military leader of his troops, and all of us owe him a debt of gratitude for his service to our country during that war.

We at Heritage also owe General Horner a debt of gratitude for his service on our Commission on Ballistic Missile Defense. Starting in 1995, this commission outlined plans and strategies for a near-term missile defense system that has steadily gained support in recent years. Please join me in welcoming General Horner.

GENERAL CHARLES HORNER: Thinking of Desert Storm, if you don't think there's a need for leadership at the national security level, I would ask you to compare where we were in 1990 with the equipment, training, and the motivated force that we took to the Middle East, which subsequently prevailed in the liberation of Kuwait, and what we would have, albeit with the increases in technology and capability, to call upon today to do the same job. I think it does show that leadership, particularly the kind that was brought to us in the early 1980s, does pay off in terms of victory in battle and minimum loss of life on both sides, both the Coalition forces and the Iraqi forces. We also fought a war and got it over within six weeks, while in Vietnam, it took us six years.

So I think it is important that this Heritage report be put out, that people read it and understand the message that it's really bringing, because we have had an erosion in terms of the size of our forces and their readiness. What causes military people to lose their motivation is when they sense that they're incapable of carrying out their job. Pride in the military is what keeps people in, and they get that pride from knowing that they're capable of carrying out the combat duties that are expected of them, pure and simple.

With regard to space, that's a new aspect in the military. It really has a long history, but much of it in the past was assigned to solve the problems associated with nuclear deterrence--the strategic war, if you will. Suddenly, in Desert Storm, it burst on the scene in a much broader sense.

The Global Positioning System
The Secretary has already talked about the navigation aspect of the global positioning system, which was just coming online when we fought Desert Storm. But it even goes beyond that with regard to GPS. GPS provides the coordinating time signals that military forces need in order to synchronize their encrypted communications and their communications when they're in a jam. So it's pervasive in everything they do, even just talking from one battalion to another battalion, or one airplane to another airplane, let alone the navigation. It's a fundamental coordination among the services that few people really understand, but it has revolutionized how we fight together on land, sea, and air.

Certainly in terms of communications, it's especially important. Space communications are especially important for the military because military operations require going beyond the enemy lines where you can't lay fiber-optic cable, or operating where artillery strikes, which destroys land infrastructure. So the military really relies on satellite communications, even though it may be a very expensive way to provide communication and very difficult getting the full amount of information you want passed around.

Ballistic Missile Warning
There's a new area that we had not anticipated before Desert Storm but we must anticipate in the next war, and that's ballistic missile warning. We relied on that heavily for civil defense during Desert Storm. And, of course, we have the intelligence, and the intelligence in space permeates all aspects of the operation. General Norman Schwartzkopf was extremely worried that the Iraqis would find out about sending the 7th Corps and 18th Airborne Corps out to the west for his encirclement of the Iraqi forces, so he wouldn't allow them to move until the air war started so that we could keep the Iraqi reconnaissance airplanes from approaching the border where they could look over and see us moving.

Today, any enemy can buy space products from a variety of sources, some of which are in the United States, some of which are not. So space is available to our potential adversaries at a level that we don't really think about. If we live in the past, we tend to think that our government owns space, and it just isn't so.

In Kosovo, the use of space in warfare has probably grown a hundred percent over what it was in Desert Storm. Communications were quadruple what they were in Desert Storm, even though the force was much smaller. Targeting now goes direct to the tank or plane or ship through satellites, and we can actually cut the length of time from detection of the enemy to targeting that particular enemy. We have introduced the GPS guided bomb, as Secretary Schlesinger talked about, and that really is a revolution in and of itself.

Dependence and Vulnerability
But as we have become increasingly dependent on space, we have also developed an increasing vulnerability because of that dependency, and that's something that people don't often really comprehend or think about. If you asked somebody, "Where's the national intelligence estimate on the threat to space?" you would find there are four people that recently put out a report, and it says, "We're sure there is one, but we don't know exactly what it is." I don't mean to demean their efforts, but that is what their space report says.

During the Cold War, we had specific Russian programs that we tracked, that were involved in threats to our space operations. But now we have things--for example, this last year, a satellite malfunctioned and the pagers in the United States went offline for a period of time. Hundreds of thousands or millions of pagers. And that was just strictly a malfunction. The Russians sell on the open market the GPS jammer. It's about the size of a package of cigarettes, and it goes out for a limited area, maybe 20 miles, and you just have to build a bigger one if you're going to go out further.

Our own satellites are not hardened. They don't have the capability of maneuvering, for the most part. As a result, we are vulnerable from the standpoint of threats against us, be they nothing more than malfunctions or intentional. Also, our space system is very fragile. Many of our systems consist of one or two satellites: That's it. So if somebody decided to, say, burn out the optics of an observation satellite, that would not be all that difficult to do, and we would be blind in terms of our space. It takes us a long time to build space satellites and even, in some cases, a longer time to launch them. I recall one particular Titan we had at Cape Canaveral that sat on the pad two years after its take-off date, and I threatened to put a building number on it.

I think the other problems that we face in space that require leadership at the national level are of our own making. In the past, the Air Force has wanted to control space as its mission, and they've done a good job. Frankly, the Army and Navy and Marine Corps are quite happy to let the Air Force spend their budget on space as long as they get access to the information and the use of the satellites. The only trouble is, we are hitting a brick wall because the Air Force is arbitrarily constrained to one-third of the defense budget.

Strengthening Air Operations
Desert Storm and Kosovo show that air operations need to be emphasized, modernized, and continued because they in some ways become the way America prefers to fight a war. The GPS satellites now have started to be replaced. MILSTAR, the communications satellites, are going to have to be replaced. We're entering into space-based infrared for missile detection. And if we build the LODE system, it can export ballistic missile defense. It could also do things such as operate our tracking ranges that we use to inventory space and to do the early launch control after a satellite launch.

We have some dysfunctional organizations in space. For example, we have an historic culture with regard to the interests of the Air Force that is actually quite dysfunctional, and many people know that. Within our country, we have a serious problem with expertise in space. The young engineers are not coming to the space houses; they're going to the "dot-com" houses. As a result, our high-tech leadership is growing older and not being replenished. Finally, our industrial base has suffered because of variances in budgets, because of the drawdown and the lack of procurement. We have a serious problem with regard to defense industries, in which in some cases their cost of capital exceeds their return on investment. In one case, one of the large space companies said, "If we could afford it, we'd get out of the business." They'd have to write off billions and billions of dollars worth of assets, and they can't afford it. So I think that leadership is vital. It's called for, as it is in the Heritage report.

We have to be very careful, for example, with policies. We just negotiated a missile launch alert with the Russians, where we tell them we're launching a satellite so that they don't get mistaken. The problem is, there are all sorts of unintended consequences that go along with those things, and we don't necessarily have the expertise to think them through. As a result, we're creating a web which will catch us later on. So we need leadership with regard to space policy.

The Need to Set Priorities
We need to prioritize space. Not all things need to go to space. For example, the global hawk-type UAVs make an excellent surrogate for low Earth orbit satellites. They're cheaper. They have flexibility. They can do a lot of things. So we need to have some way of balancing our space requirements versus the other kind of requirements we have. We have to identify within our defense budget what is space-related. We have lost sight of that. As a result, it's very hard to track space programs, and they suffer as a result of moving funds from one program to another so that you whiplash the programs until you cannot execute them.

Finally, we must pay attention to space control. It's a mission area that people don't like to talk about. Many people feel that the military has no business in space, but the military is there to stay. Whether you believe it or not really doesn't matter. It's there, and it's where we draw strength for our military.

I do think that we will have a new national military strategy to replace our Cold War strategies. I do believe that if the QDR is done correctly, we can evaluate that strategy, use it, and define the forces we need, and address the budgets that it will take to recapitalize our forces, and provide the needed funds to organize and operate. Space is new. It's highly dependent on a lot of things that are very fragile, and our military forces are so dependent on space that it's created a vulnerability for us that a wise adversary would do well to attack. In fact, many people worry that we may be faced with a Pearl Harbor in space.

DR. HOLMES: Our last speaker is a true hero and a national treasure. Caspar Weinberger has played so many crucial roles in leading this country that it's difficult for me to know where to begin. He was a military intelligence officer on General Douglas MacArthur's staff. He was a member of the California state legislature, a corporate executive and trustee with Bechtel and Pepsico and numerous other corporations. And he's been appointed to top government posts: Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare; and, of course, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Defense.

There are many people who take credit for ending the Cold War, but the short list would have to include the name of Caspar Weinberger. Few people did more to produce and manage the strategy of national strength that eventually helped bring down the Soviet Union. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to Cap for all he did during the Reagan years. He has certainly been an inspiration to many, myself included, who have learned from his example.

Secretary Weinberger has been chairman of Forbes, the distinguished biweekly business magazine, since 1993. Please join me in welcoming Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: I would like to say at the very beginning a word of praise for the splendid proposed chapter that we are discussing here today, prepared by Jack Spencer, which summarizes in a remarkably clear and factual and irrefutable way the need for the rebuilding that now has to be done. The title is "Building and Maintaining the Strength of America's Armed Forces." I think we really ought to call it "Rebuilding and Maintaining."

Had all of these data been presented in this form to the congressional committees by the Joint Chiefs and others two or three years ago when it was beginning to become as unfortunately serious as it is now, we might well have had a little more running start to try to get ready for it. In any event, we have a lot to do now.

Needed: A Strong Advocate
I think the first thing is to have someone who is a strong advocate, who is not going to be a passive observer, but a strong advocate for doing all of the difficult and politically unpopular things that we have to do now. The situation is not at all unlike the one that we looked at in 1980 during that transition period. We had one advantage: We knew who had been elected, and that gave us a running start after November. But the important thing is to get a leader who is willing to do the kind of advocacy that President Reagan did constantly throughout his eight years, recognizing how basically unpopular it was and recognizing that it had to be the very highest priority. When he was asked very early in his term if he ever had to make a choice between a balanced budget and rebuilding the armed forces, he would always come down on the side of the latter: rebuilding the armed forces.

So we need that advocacy. It isn't enough to know what has to be done. It isn't enough to point this out quietly and calmly. It requires constant advocacy because in democracies, people simply don't like to spend money on military matters. It's a trait of democracies, understandably, and you can be sympathetic with it. But we can't be now, because we have fallen very badly behind.

Rebuilding Morale
There are two or three things that I think need to be done almost immediately, and one is to do everything we can to rebuild the morale and thereby aid the recruitment and retention of the armed forces, particularly the people that we have, that we've trained, who are splendid in every way but who are leaving for a number of reasons. Many surveys have been conducted. They generally come out with pretty much the same kinds of worries and causes for unhappiness that are causing so many people to leave.

One of the problems is that our armed forces are tremendously overstressed and overcommitted. Something like 145,000 American troops in the Army alone are deployed abroad in a major way in over 35 or 40 countries, and with very sharply diminishing resources, resources that are down close to 40 or 45 percent since the Gulf War was won. Some of them participated in that enormous victory and are seeing now neither the procurement necessary, the research and development necessary, nor the support or the plans or the strategy that will change a situation they find fairly intolerable.

Undermining the Warrior Concept
There also are a number of complaints about the degree of sensitivity training that is now required, the public support for taking some of the more vigorous warrior kinds of concepts out of the military, and forgetfulness that the task of the military is to fight and win American wars and, if they're strong enough, to deter wars.

Then, of course, there has been for some time a failure to keep pace with the proper salary structure that is needed. People don't join the armed forces to make money; they join the armed forces because of patriotic reasons. But they have to be treated fairly, and when they perceive that they're not being treated fairly, they see no reason to stay. It isn't because the economy is strong that they're leaving. For the most part, it's because they're dissatisfied with what they have now, the way they've been led, the way they've been equipped, and the way they've been supported. That can be changed, and changed very quickly, as President Reagan demonstrated.

The situation is not unlike the one we faced in 1980 and 1981. At that time, we did not have the underlying backbone or foundation, the infrastructure, of a very large and very successful, extraordinarily strong and well-trained force. We have that now, but we can't rely on that. We can't rest on that. So the first thing to do is to get the leadership, get the advocacy, and then to recognize the priorities and the things that do need to be done. They're all laid out in a number of different papers.

I find this one here that we're considering, that will be one of the chapters of The Heritage Foundation's very valuable presentation to a new Administration, to be a very fine, factually supported body of evidence. If most of that is followed, I would think that we would be able to make the kind of recovery we need, if the Congress is willing, and I think they will be. They have been in the past, when properly approached and when properly persuaded. And it takes persuasion. Then I think we can start to make the recovery that we need.

Changing Strategy
There are a few individual things that I think we need to consider carefully. Some people say--and it is argued in this chapter--that we need to change our strategy from the ability to fight and win two major regional conflicts fought nearly simultaneously. You can do that in a number of ways. You can get the strength necessary to do it, which we don't have now. You can reduce the strategy: You can say we'd only need one and a half. After a few more years at this rate, we'll be talking about maybe we should be able to do one.

That, I think, is not the proper approach. The proper approach is to urge, and to advocate, and to let the American public know how important it is. That's the other part of leadership: Let the American public know how, unfortunately, rapid action is needed in a very strong and determined way. The Congress will support it, and the American people will support it if they are told the facts--if they're not being told constantly that everything is really all right, that we are strong, we are prepared, we are ready when people who say that with their professional background must know that we are not.

So that, I think, is essential: that we change from doing things that make everybody feel good to doing things that are necessary to justify our feelings about ourselves, and our strength, and our ability to influence world events, as we should be, as a superpower.

Knowing What the Mission Is
One of the things I would like to emphasize is that taking care of the morale factors and changing the various personnel funding and other things of that kind are the first priority and always have been. Another one is to recognize that we are not doing very much good overseas in many places. We don't know what our mission is. We have no exit strategy. We'll never know when we win, and you've got to win, and you've got to want to win if you are going to make any kind of difference in these numerous deployments. They are not deployments that are in any way improving or strengthening the armed forces. They're costing about three and a half to four and a half billion dollars a year. They go on forever. Remember the troops that are in Bosnia were promised to be home by Christmas. It was never added, however, that that was Christmas three years ago. They are still there, and there seems to be no exit for them to come back.

Also, the work that is being done need not be done by the military. I say without the slightest intention of being in any way critical, it's work that is far better suited to the Salvation Army. It is not a military task, and it's not strengthening the military. In fact, it is in every way weakening and using up inferior resources that they now must deal with. When we pulled out of Somalia, it took the units that were there 10 months to recover the equipment they had when they went in, because of budgetary problems, because of the rate at which it was used. And that's just one very small example of what is needed.

Acquiring an Effective Strategic Defense
Finally--and I think in many ways it's one of the most important things--we must make it crystal clear to ourselves, to our allies, and to our potential enemies that we are no longer going to be bound by the ABM Treaty. We are going to acquire and deploy an effective strategic defense, and we're going to do it as soon as we possibly can, which after all was what the congressional act that President Clinton signed says we must do.

This does not involve any longer any searching for excuses as to why we shouldn't do it. It certainly doesn't involve waiting until Russia approves, and it certainly doesn't involve waiting until we have everybody's approval for a system that will be so ineffective it will not disturb anybody, which is essentially the basis on which we've been talking in the last couple of years as to why we should be allowed to go ahead with defending our own country and our allies.

But we can't do this using the ABM Treaty as the foundation for our security. We can't deploy an effective defense until we get out of the treaty. We don't get out of the treaty by breaking it. We get out of the treaty by following it. Article 13 says perfectly clearly that if the country decides its national interest requires it, if we give notice, six months later it will be out of the treaty.

So these are the points that I think are most vital to bear in mind as we approach what I devoutly hope will be a transition.


1. Jack Spencer, "Building and Maintaining the Strength of America's Armed Forces," in Stuart M. Butler and Kim R. Holmes, eds., Priorities for the President (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2001).


General Charles Horner

Bradley Fellow in Education Policy

Hon. James Schlesinger

Policy Analyst