Why America's Military Services Balk at the Strategic DefenseInitiative

Report Defense

Why America's Military Services Balk at the Strategic DefenseInitiative

July 25, 1989 27 min read Download Report
Robert Tarver, Baker Spring
(Archived document, may contain errors)

721 July 25,1989 WHY AMERICAS IVIILITmY SERVICES BALK ATTHE SIRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIAm INTRODUCTION The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) holds out the promise of providing the United States with the means to deter war not by threatening revenge through nuclear retaliation against Soviet population centers, but by defending America from nuclear attack. Yet, this extraordinary promise of SDI could go unfulfilled be c ause of the lack of firm backing for SDI from Americas military leadership. Indeed, it was reported recently that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) recommended that George Bush abandon an arms control negotiating position held by the Reagan Administration t h at has preserved the option of the United States to deploy strategic defenses? The JCS reportedly said that they no longer were willing to insist on the right to deploy strategic defenses if the U.S. reached an arms control agreement with the Soviets Relu c tant to Embrace New Approaches. The position taken by the JCS concerning the right to deploy strategic defenses in the future is disappointing but not surprising. The Joint Chiefs coolness to SDI has been well known and predictable. Military leaders histo r ically have been reluctant to embrace new approaches to military problems. Whether it be applying the new technology of the tank between World War I and World War I1 or understanding the importance of air power during World War 11 senior officers have bee n slow to grasp the implications of innovation and have been loath to alter or even question their thinking This attitude applies to the question of strategic defenses. Throughout the 1960s the military, along 1 R. Jeffrey Smith, No Shift on Missile Defens e Foreseen, The Washirigton Post, June 9,1989.

I i I I Iwith civilian leaders, was reluctant to employ strategic defenses to protect the U.S. and ultimately abandoned the effort.

There are several reasons why the military has not backed SDI The military i s uncertain that SDI has adequate support from Congress and civilians in the executive branch; lacking this support, the military fears being given a military mission it cannot fulfill.

Treaty, a major obstacle to SDI development and deployment, because t hey fear that the Soviets could build defenses faster than the U.S age with developing and deploying offensive weapons, such as the B-1 bomber, the B-2 Stealth bomber, and the MX missile. It is difficult for the military to break with this traditional vie w because it has worked in the past and because the current strategic force is made up exclusively of offensive nuclear weapons budgets, money for strategic defenses would have to come out of funding for other offensive weapons systems provide the leadersh i p and direction the military services need to proceed vigorously with SDI. Specifically, Bush should of strategic defenses the funds to ensure that the U.S. does not fall behind the Soviets in developing and deploying strategic defenses 2) Inform the JCS t hat he intends to pursue a policy that will result in either the modification or the abrogation of the ABM Treaty This will make it absolutely clear to the military that the ABM Treaty will not be an obstacle to the deployment of strategic defenses. Bush t hen should instruct the JCS to establish a realistic development and testing program for SDI that is not driven by the restrictions of the ABM Treaty on the testing of certain SDI components such as interceptor weapons. And Bush should instruct the JCS to refer questions from Congress about the future of the ABM Treaty to him. The decision on whether to continue adherence to the ABM Treaty should be made by the President not the JCS. Military men should not be asked to decide the fate of a treaty involving not just military matters but political issues and international foreign policy commitments 3) Give the military services clear mission requirements for strategic defenses This requires the assigning of specific tasks to specific units in the military As t he military is reluctant to take on responsibilities absent clear mission requirements these instructions will help convince the military leadership The JCS tend to support the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM 4 +The military services traditionally have e q uated security in the nuclear The services are concerned that, in an era of declining defense To overcome the reticence of the military toward SDI, George Bush should 1) Reassure the military leadership that he strongly backs the deployment This includes t he assurance that he will strive to provide the military with 2 I that SDI is a permanent element of U.S. security policy and that they will have role in it 4) Protect the SDI budget by resisting congressional efforts to reduce SDI funding to levels signi ficantly below the $4.6 billion Bush requested on April 23,1989.

This will reassure the JCS that the SDI program will survive 5) Make it clear how strategic defenses complement existing strategic modernization plans and missions.

These include increasing the survivability of the U.S. land-based missile force and improving the overall security posture of the U.S 6) Emphasize to the military how SDI serves the speciakinterests of the services.

These include expediting the development of an antisatellite (ASAT system, which the Navy and Army want to'protect their ships and ground forces against Soviet surveillance satellites in the event of war, and improving command, control, and communications capabilities for ground, sea, and air forces, which the Air Force particularly wants, to improve the effectiveness of its missile and bomber force j HISTORY'S LESSON: MILITARY LEADERS SHUN INNOVATION The key to military victory often has been how well arm i es incorporate technological advances into their strategy and doctrines. The ancient Greeks under Alexander the Great were able to conquer vast territories because they applied the new strategy of phalanx warfare, an innovative battlefield formation of ov e rlapping shields and long spears allowing Greek soldiers to penetrate enemy lines, and they improve'd on this strategy by using tactics based on the precision drilling of troops. The English were able to slaughter huge numbers of French mounted knights at the 1415 Battle of Agincourt because they used the then revolutionary longbow. The Germans were able to defeat the French quickly in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 not only because they used railways to move troops rapidly to the battlefield, but al so because they used the new technology of breech-loading cannon.

Despite these and many more lessons of history, military leaders resist innovation. They are by nature conservative, not in their politics, but in their approach to military strategy and doc trine. Tradition and continuity are valued much more highly than innovation and change. Like all institutions steeped in tradition and history, the'military looks to its historic achievmeh when developing strategies and weapons for the future, as it consi ders continuity a way to reduce risks. Military leaders are cautious because they know far better than the average citizen the price paid for mistakes in battles.

This conservative approach often leads them to believe, in some cases rightly so, that it is better to rely on what has worked than on an untested weapon or technology 3 I The Revolution of Armor systems has led to military failure. Although the French and British developed the tank in the closing days of World War I, they did not comprehend how i t would alter the nature of modern battle.They envisioned tanks as weapons for supporting infantry. Using this approach, tanks were evenly spread out over a front and used to attack machine gun nests overcome barbed wire and other defensive positions, and allow foot soldiers to advance on enemy lines.

The vast majority of senior German General Staff officers after World War I agreed with their British and French counterparts about the tank. They were opposed, however, by a few junior officers and the Germa n political leadership, most notably Adolf Hitler, who envisioned a new very offensive role for the tank. Using the new approach, the tank was a well armored powerfully armed, highly mobile vehicle designed to operate independently of the infantry.Tanks w e re to act as a rapid attack force, concentrating the bulk of their numbers on specific soft spots in the enemy line, piercing that line, pursuing the enemy, disrupting his plans and lines of communications and holding forward positions against possible co unterattacks.

The entire nature of warfare thus was changed. Gone were static, slowly moving fronts; this gave way to the new tactic of breaking through enemy lines and encircling them through great pincer movements. This strategy of blitzkrieg (lightning war), based on the rapid movement of tanks,.was perfected by the Germans in World War 11, and was responsible for Hitlers spectacular German victories in Poland, France, and Russia The Rise of Air Power Similarly, the revolutionary impact of the airplane w as at first fervently denied, and then only grudgingly accepted, by most military leaders between the World Wars. It was the German and Italian military strategists who first realized the bombers military potential They correctly surmised that if in futur e wars troops were brought to a standstill by defensive formations, as they were in World War I, then the airplane could leapfrog ground forces and either drop bombs directly on the enemy front lines or weaken an enemys will to resist by attacking troop re i nforcements and supply lines behind the front.There was also the possibility of air attacks on the enemys political leadership and industrial base. It was not until after World War 11 had begun that Allied military leaders began to grasp that bombers and f ighter-bombers could support ground forces, weaken an enemys morale, and reduce the capacity of a nation to wage war by attacking factories, bridges, and railroads Early Advocates. The differences over the use of air forces in the Amencan military is best exemplified by the resistance to the development of aircraft carriers by the Navy and in the dismissal of Billy Mitchell from the Army.

While Eugene Ely, a civilian pilot, proved the feasibility of taking off and landing airplanes on boats in 1910 and 191 1, Navy leaders continued to believe that battleships would dominate naval warfare for the foreseeable In this century, the failure to grasp adequately the potential of new weapon I 4 future. The result was that the U.S. did not commission its first fully designed aircraft carrier until 19

34. The aircraft carrier, of course, served as the backbone of U.S. operations in the Pacific in World War

11. Billy Mitchell the highly decorated pilot of World War I, became a strong advocate of air power in the Army following the War. Army leaders strongly resisted the positions advocated by Mitchell, believing that airplanes would play only a peripheral role in warfare. Mitchell ultimately was court-martialed for insubordination because of his advocacy, but the use of air power in World War II proved him correct in his assessments about the central role of air power in modern warfare.

A Preoccupation with Offensive Weapons The military strategist of today is no less mesmerized by traditional notions of warfare than his prewar predecessor. In the immediate post-World War I1 era, the U.S. threatened to retaliate with nuclear weapons against Soviet civilian populations if the Soviets attacked the U.S. or its allies.This strategy led the military to equate security with the development and deployment of offensive, retaliatory strategic weapons, such as heavy bombers and eventually long-range ballistic missiles. For four decades, the emphasis has been solely on offensive weapons. It continues so, as American military lead e rs continue to demand such offensive strategic weapons as the MX missile and the B-1 bomber no longer appropriate. Soviet missiles today are so-accurate that they can destroy U.S. missiles in their silos.This means that the U.S. capability to retaliate fo r a Soviet attack has been weakened.The U.S. can no longer be sure that its missiles will survive a Soviet first strike with nuclear weapons.

Currently, the Soviets realistically can expect to destroy 90 percent of U.S intercontinental ballistic missiles ( ICBMs) and a significant number of bombers and missile submarines in a coordinated first strike and still maintain reserve forces equal to or better than the remaining American forces.

The upshot of these developments is that the exclusive reliance on off ensive systems carries huge risks. Whereas before the U.S. used to be certain of its capability to deliver a devastating counterattack-against the Soviets, this capability is now no longer guaranteed This strategy of relying exclusively on retaliatory for c es for U.S. security is 2 HOW THE SERVICES IMPEDE PROGRESS ON SDI U.S. military leaders have used a variety of means to impede progress on the Strategic Defense Initiative. While military leaders have not opposed SDI activities in every instance, they hav e generally shown little enthusiasm for the SDI program. Moreover, some military services are more supportive of 2 Angel0 Codevilla, while Others Build (New York Free Press, 1988 p. 29 5 I I I I SDI than others.The Army, for example, is more supportive tha n the Air Force.The means military leaders have employed to slow SDI progress are Assigning SDI a low priority in the budget. The military services do not view SDI as a high budget priority. In fact, Senator Malcolm Wallop, the Wyoming Republican, reported that, in a 1987 public statement shortly before his appointment, General Larry Welch, Chief of Staff of the Air Force excluded SDI from his list of budget priorities. Wallop said that Welch listed the B-2 Stealth bomber (then known as the Advanced Technol ogy bomber the B-1 bomber, the MX ballistic missile, the Advanced Technology Fighter and the C-17 transport plane as the Air Forces top priorities?

Another example of placing SDI low on the militarys budget list occurred during the course of the budget rev iew conducted for the Bush Admini stration earlier this year. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that the Administration cut $20 billion from the 40 billion five-year SDI budget and that the SDI program be restricted to research only. Civilian authorit ies in the Department of Defense successfully thwarted the JCS proposal to cut the SDI budget, convincing George Bush to maintain the five-year funding for SDI at 33 billion.

SDI progam extends to research only.The military supports this restrictive mandat e because it keeps the SDI program from competing directly with other weapon systems favored by the military services. As long as the SDI mandate extends only to research, and not deployment, SDI poses no threat to the procurement or development of other w eapon systems. When the Pentagon begins building SDI hardware, military planners may be forced to purchase fewer bombers, missiles, or tanks because of the need to spend a larger portion of the budget on strategic defense systems. Military leaders want to avoid the intensified competition for procurement dollars that would be brought about by SDI deployment plans Maintaining control over military personnel assigned to the SDI mission. While the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) is a civilian agency run through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, military personnel are assigned to SDIO to fill many of its most important positions.

Since the services themselves are responsible for the future careers of these assigned personnel, they control them and seek to ensure their loyalty to their individual services. The parochial interests of the services, including protecting funding for ex i sting weapons programs and concentrating on fulfilling traditionally defined missions, often run counter to the interests of developing strategic defenses. Thus, military personnel assigned to SDIO are often under extraordinary pressure to put the interes t s of their service ahead of the SDI mission Restricting SDI to a research program. The existing mandate for the I 3 Malcolm Wallop, Star Wars and the Military, TIte American Spectator, July 1987, p.22 6 Among the best examples of an individual furthering t he interests of his parent service while at SDIO is SDIOs current Director, Air Force General George L. Monahan. Monahan is widely known to be the choice of Air Force Chief of Staff Larry Welch for Director of SDIO. Welch is skeptical about the SDI progra m . He generally favors the existing offense-only nuclear strategy and views SDI as a threat to such Air Force offensive programs as the MX ballistic missile or B-2 bomber. Monahan has dutifully reflected the views of his parent service toward the SDI progr a m by stating that as Director of SDIO he will not be an advocate for SDI. Further, he has stated that he does not have a lifetime invested in space weapons and that he is not pinning hopes of winning a fourth star on his performance at SDIO! Finally, he r e cently tried to turn over administrative control of the Brilliant Pebbles program to the Air Force. Brilliant Pebbles is a proposal to deploy thousands of autonomous antiballistic missile weapons in orbit, and it is not enthusiastically supported by the A i r Force. Vice President Dan Quayle recently announced that the effort to give the Air Force control of the Brilliant Pebbles program had been defeated? The transfer of managerial responsibility would have given the Air Force the ability to control, and po s sibly kill, Brilliant Pebbles. At a minimum, the transfer would have allowed the Air Force to use the programs resources and technologies, such as Brilliant Pebbles sophisticated space-based surveillance and tracking technology, to further other Air Force interests, such as developing more sophisticated early warning systems for the nations offensive nuclear force Undermining SDI in the course of policy deliberations. The military services have also used the executive branchs interagency process to impede progress on SDI. The interagency process is the bureaucratic machinery used to resolve policy differences between federal departments and agencies. For example, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William J.

Crowe, Jr reportedly recommended in a recent National Security Council NSC) meeting that the U.S. reverse course and accept the basic Soviet position in the ongoing U.S.-Soviet Defense and Space negotiations! The NSC is the most senior of the interagency committees for resolving national security issues. Moscow wants the U.S. to commit itself not to deploy SDI for a number of years and to remain bound by the 1972 ABM Treaty, which bans most missile defenses. Bush, however, decided to stick to the Reagan negotiating position, by which the U .S. might accept a brief nondeployment period, but would be free to deploy SDI once it had expired Lobbying against SDI in Congress. There is also evidence that military leaders have gone to members of Congress behind the backs of civilian authorities in t he executive branch to lobby against SDI. Senator 4 John M. Broder, New Star Wars Chief: The Right Man for the Job at the Right Time, The Los Angeles Zimes, May 13,1989, p. 18 5 Monahan Rebuffed on Interceptor, The Defense News, July 3,1989, p. 2 6 See Sm i th, op.cit 7 Wallop, writing in the American Spectator, states that former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, when speaking before a government-sponsored seminar, accused a group of Air Force generals of disloyalty for undertaking such an effort i n 1984.7 Military leaders lobbying Congress in this fashion is nothing new. It took a direct reprimand from newly appointed Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, earlier this year, to stop Air Force Chief of Staff Larry Welch from free-lancing on issues re l ated to the modernization of the land-based missile force WHY THE SERVICES ARE RELUCTANT TO SUPPORT SDI As history reveals, it is sometimes difficult to persuade tradition-conscious military leaders to accept innovation and change, even if they can mean t he difference between winning or losing on the battlefield.

In addition to their general hesitancy to embrace the sweeping changes inherent in the SDI program, there are a number of specific reasons why todays military leaders have been reluctant to suppor t SDI. These include The lack of a clear commitment to strategic defenses on the part of the civilian leadership.

The services will not aggressively support SDI until the civilian leadership gives the military very clear guidance. For the military to purs ue an important military program absent such civilian leadership would mean exceeding its authority. Any program that involves such important changesin strategy and doctrine as those associated with the deployment of SDI requires the civilian leadership t o move ahead of the military. The Pentagons civilian leadership in the Reagan Administration, and now as well, has not been clear about when strategic defenses will be deployed.

Nowhere has the lack of civilian leadership been more evident than in the ques tion of addressing the restrictions on the testing of SDI imposed by the 1972 U.S.-Soviet ABM Treaty. Efforts by the Reagan Administration to determine what sorts of SDI technology tests are permissible under the ABM Treaty triggered the debate over what came to be known as the broad versus the narrow interpretation of theTreaty. The broad interpretation of theTreaty allows a wider range of more realistic tests of SDI components.

The narrow interpretation of Treaty prohibits specific kinds of more advanced tests.

Confused Policy. In October 1985, Ronald Reagan signed a White House order, requiring that the U.S. unilaterally refrain from certain kinds of SDI testing ostensibly barred by the ABM Treaty8 This order was the result of an effort to resolve the d ebate between the Administration and Congress over the interpretation of theTreaty. In essence, the order leaned toward the c 7 See Malcolm Wallop, op.cit p. 22 8 See Codevilla, op.cit pp. 186-87 8 narrow interpretation, but actually did little to clarify U.S. policy toward the ABM Treaty. This policy remains confused. There is still no clear indication of what activities the U.S. regards as prohibited by theTreaty.

Nor have civilian leaders provided adequate guidance in establishing the goals, structure, and timetable for the SDI program. Example: Civilian leaders have been debating the near-term deployment of more mature technologies, like kinetic energy weapons, versus later deployments of more technologically advanced weapons, like laser or neutral par t icle beam weapons.The result has been endless haggling about the design of an SDI architecture and the timing of the systems deployment. These questions could be quickly resolved if the civilian leaders simply asked the military to provide the best means of defense possible in the near term and to consider improvements for the system later Raising Questions. Fiscal guidance for the SDI program also has been inadequate. Congress ha cut the Pentagons SDI funding by over 25 percent from 1985 through 19

89. Co ngressional budget cuts of this magnitude can only raise questions in the minds of the military about the civilian commitment to the SDI program civilian leadership to avoid a commitment to strategic defenses. Again, this avoidance on the part of the mili t ary is most evident in the debate over the ABM Treaty. The unilateral statement of the Reagan Administration concerning restrictions on SDI testing allowed the military to declare a policy of support for the ABM Treaty and for limited SDI testing because, absent clear support for SDI, the military would prefer to use theTreaty to avoid a race with Soviets in deploying strategic defenses Depending on the ABM Treaty. The JCS fears that without the restrictions of the ABM Treaty the Soviets will move quickly t o deploy a nationwide system of strategic defenses.The result would be a competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to deploy extensive strategic defenses, which the JCS is not confident of winning, particularly in the near term Thus, the JCS finds it safer to depend on the ABM Treaty to restrict the Soviet program and avoid a competition with Soviets in the area of strategic defenses. General Robert T. Herres, Vice Chairman of the JCS, stated last October: Our [JCS view is that we should continue t o abide by the ABM Treaty until it is clear that we should withdraw, and for what purpose we should withdraw.

Herress view reportedly was echoed last month by JCS Chairman Admiral Crowe when he said that the U.S. ought to abandon its position in arms contr ol negotiations of explicitly allowing both the Soviet Union and the U.S 4 The military services are now using the conflicting signals on the part of the 9 John D. Moteff, The Strategic Defense Initiative: Program Description and Major Issues (Washington D .C.: Congressional Research Service, 1988 p. 48 10 Beyond the Campaign, MoreTests Await Star Wars, The New Yo& 7inza, October 16,1988 9 I I to deploy strategic defenses after the expiration of-a period during which both agreed to prohibit deployment. Thes e statements by Herres and Crowe probably reflect an attempt by the JCS to hide behind the ABM Treaty and hedge their bets on SDI until the civilian leadership makes a clear decision about the program The military services favor offensive strategic weapons over strategic defenses American military planners, particularly in the Air Force, expend their energies almost exclusively on insuring that U.S. offensive nuclear missiles and bombers will be capable of destroying a certain number of targets in the Sovie t Union. Thus, the Air Force dedicates countless man hours and tens of billions of dollars to the development of systems such as the B-1 bomber, the Stealth bomber, and the MX missile and gives relatively little attention to questions of strategic defenses which holds that deterrence is best preserved by offensive nuclear forces.

Some in the military adhere to this traditional view even to the point of asserting that strategic defenses are destabilizing. Lt. General Harley A.

Hughes, a former Air Force Dep uty Chief of Staff, has stated, I submit [that the most dangerous period of time that well encounter in the next 20 years will be the period [in which we begin to put a space defense system in orbit and it becomes effective the doctrine of massive retalia t ion first developed in the 1950s. It will take some prodding before the military rethinks this strategic doctrine. In the interim, the expansion of offensive programs will proceed because of bureaucratic momentum and funding This is a reflection of the mi litarys traditional strategic nuclear doctrine 2 The militarys commitment to offensive strategic weapons is a reflection of The services view SDI as a budgetary threat to favorite programs.

Annual real reductions in the defense budget contribute to the mil itarys reluctance to support SDI. These reductions cause heated competition for the remaining resources. Given the proclivity of the military services, and the Air Force in particular, to protect big-ticket offensive programs, SDI is likely to be without a dvocates in the Pentagon.The signal from Congress that it is willing to cut the SDI budget only serves to encourage those in the Pentagon who want to reduce funding for SDI and transfer the money to other programs. Unless the civilian leadership clearly s t ates its intention to fund SDI regardless of other budget considerations, the services will tend to push other programs at the expense of SDI. b 11 See Smith, op.cit 12 SDI Plan Draws Military Critics, The Washington Post, June 28,1987 10 HOW THE SERVICES CAN BENEFIT FROM SDI The services apparently are blind to SDIs possible benefits. SDI creates new missions for each of the three services: a space-based missile defense mission for the Air Force; a ground-based missile defense mission for the Army; and a possibly expanded sea-based missile surveillance role for the Navy.

The SDI program, moreover, is exploring technologies that should interest all three services for maintaining the survivability of the offensive m issile force, protecting Western Europe against tactical missiles, and protecting sea lines of communication. These technologies include such things as antisatellite (ASAT) systems, improved early warning capabilities, improved command, control and commun i cations systems for all forces, and defenses against tactical nuclear and conventional missiles Air Force The Air Force perhaps has the most to gain from the SDI program, since the Air Force is likely to assume the mission for managing the space-based ele ments of SDIs Phase I system, which is the existing plan for using space-based and ground-based kinetic energy weapons to destroy Soviet missiles.

Force. The Pentagon, for example, is studying advanced command, control and communication systems to manage t he overall defense system.The Air Force is constantly seeking new ways to improve the command, control, and communications system for its nuclear forces. SDI could make a significant contribution to the Air Force by providing new laser communications syst e ms for fighter planes and bombers. One of SDIs most important functions moreover, is detecting and tracking enemy ballistic missiles. SDI is certain to improve the U.S. early warning system. SDIs Kinetic Energy Weapons Technology Program, meanwhile, which examines ways of destroying ballistic missiles by ramming into them, is working to develop sophisticated rocket interceptors.The technology being explored in this area could lead to more accurate air-to-air missiles for the Air Forces tactical fighters.

A rmy If SDI is deployed, the Army could become the manager of its ground-based systems, such as the Exoatmospheric Reentry Vehicle Interceptor Subsystem (ERIS ERIS is a ground-based interceptor missile designed to destroy enemy ballistic missile reentry ve hicles during the midcourse portion of their flight.

SDI technologies are likely to make other important contributions to the Army. This service, for example, has just been given the lead role in the antisatellite mission. SDI technology can be used by the Army to develop and deploy more accurate ground surface-to-air missiles to defend the U.S against the new generation of Soviet strategic bombers. SDI also can develop SDI research is likely to uncover new technologies that will benefit the Air I I 11 a d e fense against shorter-range tactical ballistic missiles, something that would help the Army defend Western Europe from a Soviet conventional attack Navy SDI technologies could destroy Soviet surveillance satellites intended to track U.S. Navy ships during a war. SDI also could help the Navy develop a defense against conventional antiship missiles by producing new types of very accurate missile defenses.

The Navy also could obtain a new responsibility and mission to make strategic defenses more effective. For example, the Navy could help fulfill the surveillance requirements for SDI by placing SDI sensor systems on ships.

This could provide the SDI system with forward-based sensors, close to.

Soviet territory GE'ITING THE SERVICES TO SUPPORT SDI Given the reluctance of military leaders to support strategic defenses America's political leadership must assert itself and establish a mandate for the military to proceed with plans to develop and deploy strategic defenses.

To do this the President should Reassur e the military that he is strongly committed to the deployment of strategic defenses As long as there is any doubt about civilian support for SDI, military leaders will be reluctant to support the program. They do not want to enter into a competition with the Soviets in strategic defenses unless they are given adequate resources to perform a clearly understood military mission once the U.S. withdraws from the ABM Treaty. Recent statements by JCS Chairman Admiral Crowe make it clear that the military does n o t want to end up behind the Soviets in strategic defenses. This implies strongly that the Joint Chiefs may be ready to back SDI -under the right conditions. Bush should make it clear that he will work to ensure that the military has .the means to compete successfully with the Soviets in strategic defenses.

The likelihood of further reductions in the defense budget exacerbates the military's concerns about co'mpeting with the Soviets. The JCS,.the Air Force in particular, will not want to reduce funding for strategic offensive systems in order to fund strategic defenses. This is predictable and understandable.

Strong support from Bush for strategic defense deployment will make it clear to the military that the American civilian leadership views some defense as a needed improvement over the existing situation, which provides no defense at all Inform the JCS that he intends to pursue a policy that will result in either the modification or the abrogation of the ABM Treaty. The future of the ABM Treaty is not o nly a military question; it is also one of foreign policy. It is not appropriate for the JCS to defend or criticize the ABM Treaty in public, as they often are asked to do during congressional hearings.

Expressing Gews on a treaty is matter that should be left to civilians. Bush 12 should instruct the JCS to establish a development and testing program for SDI that does not have to conform to the restrictions of the ABM Treaty.

While this ill require Bush to consider alternative plans for withdrawing from t he ABM Treaty, it will relieve the military of the burden of trying to balance the requirements of the SDI program with the restrictions of the ABM Treaty and make it clear that the U.S. plans to deploy strategic defenses Treaty Alternatives. Bush further should inform the military that while he will review all SDI tests that involve questions about compliance with the ABM Treaty case by case, all SDI tests will be authorized under one of several alternative policies regarding the future of theTreaty. An i m mediate announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the ABM Treaty in six months, as allowed under the terms of theTreaty, may not be in the interests of the U.S. It is extremely important that Bush protect U.S. interests by controlling both the timing a nd the circumstances of U.S. withdrawal from theTreaty. Under international law, the President has three alternatives for justifying SDI tests that under other circumstances would violate the terms of the ABM Treaty. These alternatives are: 1) The test is justified under a policy of responding to Soviet violations of the ABM Treaty. 2) The test is justified under a policy that amends the ABM Treaty. 3) The test is justified by an action of invoking the supreme interest clause under theTreaty and planned U. S. withdrawal from theTreatys terms. Of course, Bush can determine that a proposed SDI test is allowed under the ABM Treaty without resorting to any of the alternatives just described, and he should.do this to the fullest extent allowed by theTreaty.

Each of these three alternatives has its advantages and disadvantages under different Circumstances. If, for example, the SDI program has advanced to the point that the U.S. will be ahead of the Soviets in the deployment of strategic defenses, then invoking th e supreme interest clause is preferable. On the other hand, if the Soviets are more advanced in strategic defenses it might be best to authorize a specific test as a response to Soviet violations of the Treaty, of which there are several, while continuing t o observe theTreaty in more general terms imply a commitment to an immediate withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, but should allow the military to proceed under the assumption that at some time in the future the ABM Treatys restrictions will cease to apply.The President should inform the military that, in the interim period between now and the termination of the ABM Treaty, whenever that is, it is expected that the development of SDI will proceed as quickly as possible so that the US. will be in an advantageous position.This will give the President maximum flexibility for addressing the timing and circumstances of altering U.S. policy toward theTreaty to suit the national interest. The President should further instruct the military to refer to him any questions f rom Congress and the press about the future of the ABM Treaty Giving the President Flexibility. The instructions to the military should not I 13 I Instruct the military to start developing clear mission requirements for strategic defenses as soon as such m issions can be defined. The military by tradition and necessity, establishes responsibilities through precisely defined missions. The military leadership is certain to be leery about any program that does not contain clear mission responsibilities, such a s what is to be defended, the specific means by which the mission is to be accomplished, and who is to perform the mission defended, developing the means of defense, and assigning specific strategic defense missions to the services (such as giving the spac e -based interceptor mission to the Air Force Defining the requirements for specific missions will demonstrate how strategic defenses will help fulfill existing offensive strategic missions. Strategic defenses, for example, could improve the survivability o f offensive forces, defend against antisatellite weapons, and improve early warning systems. When the SDI program is given precisely defined mission requirements, the military probably will feel much more comfortable with it specifically the $4.6 billion r equested for fiscal year 19

90. Given the annual real declines in the defense budget in recent years and the prospect of tight defense budgets in the future, it is critically important that the Administration move to protect SDI f rom budget cuts. The military leadership is scrambling to find resources to support other programs. Without clear directions from the White House that SDI is to be funded at adequate levels, Pentagon planners will be tempted to shift funds to other milita r y programs and away from SDI. Reagan vetoed the fiscal 1989 Defense Authorization Bill in large measure because Congress restricted funding for SDI. Bush should be prepared to be just as firm with Congress, because the military services will continue to b e reluctant to support SDI if they see Congress undermining the program through budget cuts Establish new policy guidelines that reconcile strategic defense plans with existing security requirements and defense programs. Bush should issue guidelines that d e fine the SDI mission and other strategic missions so that SDI is compatible with these other missions;The military is concerned that SDI may be incompatible with other strategic modernizatiorrplans. In specific cases, this may be true. For example, SDIs c ontribution to improving the survivability of offensive forces may reduce the need for larger numbers of bombers or missiles.

In most cases, however, SDI should be compatible with existing missions.

New roles for SDI could include using strategic defenses to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. offensive forces to Soviet attack, improving the command, control, and communication system of nuclear and conventional forces, and providing a hedge against a Soviet break out of arms control agreements by providing a defense against an illegal, covert Soviet missile force. When it is understood that strategic defenses are being planned to complement strategic modernization plans and other service interests including such important matters as improving the nations earl y warning In the case of SDI, this means defining a list of priorities of what should be Be prepared to fight for adequate levels of funding for SDI 14 system, developing an ASAT weapon, and improving air defense capabilities many of the militarys reservat ions are likely to be diminished CONCLUSION The military services, particularly the Air Force, are not very comfortable with idea of strategic defenses and the SDI program. This is not surprising.

SDI breaks significantly with past policies and runs counte r to certain parochial interests among the military.The skepticism of the military services is only reinforced by the confusing and contradictory signals about SDI that have come from civilians in the executive branch and Congress Pressing for the Militar y s Support. The time has come for the political leadership to set clear guidelines for developing and deploying strategic defenses. As they have in the past, the President and Congress should press the military to accept new ways of thinking about national security problems even though the military reflexively balks at new approaches. This can be done by Reassuring the military that it has a clear mandate to perform the strategic defense mission Removing the ABM Treaty as an obstacle to further progress on SDI Providing the military clear mission guidelines Resisting efforts to cut the SDI budget Incorporating SDI into future strategic modernization plans.

History demonstrates that, with a clear commitment from the political leadership, the military will bring strong support to policies that it was initially reluctant to support. With proper leadership, the military will come to support SDI.

Prepared for The Heritage Foundation by Robert Tarver a Washington, D.C.-based defense consultant and Baker Spring Policy Analyst I I 15


Robert Tarver, Baker Spring