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Release No: 264-97
May 23, 1997

Deputy Secretary White's Remarks To Chicago Council on Foreign Relations

Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and Mid-America Committee

Chicago, Ill.

May 22, 1997

The American inventor Charles Kettering once said, we should all be concerned about the future, because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there. Right now the Department of Defense is uniquely focused on the future, and today I want to talk about a new vision for the future of American defense. It is a vision to achieve an American military force that can protect our nation and our global interests in a time of rapid change, and in a future we cannot predict.

In many ways, realizing this vision demands that we win the age-old battle between man and machine. Just a few weeks ago, Gary Kasperov declared that a computer can't beat a human chessmaster. And the IBM computer Deep Blue replied, checkmate. Well, 20 years ago, Alvin Toffler warned that unless you tame technology, you will encounter future shock. Today, the challenge for the Department of Defense is not to tame technology, but to harness technology for a future force that will guarantee our future security.

It is critical that we look at the future right now, for we are at a critical juncture for American defense. The post-Cold War era is coming to a close. We are entering a new era marked by constant change at a faster rate, unexpected events and sporadic new dangers. In a world of rapid change, the future will come at us faster than ever. So while we still must protect the nation from the realities of today, we must begin immediately to build the combat power we need for the uncertainties of tomorrow. It is time to leap our national defense into the future.

Over the past six months, the Department of Defense has been taking a fresh look at the future between now and the year 2015, in a process called the Quadrennial Defense Review. We asked broad, existential questions such as, what will it take for the United States to remain the world's sole superpower? How can we continue to influence world events for the better? And how can we ensure that our armed forces remain the most powerful in the world?

On Monday, we issued our report. It offers a vision for American defense well into the 21st Century, and recommends changes in the force today in order to begin building the force for the future. These changes are controversial. They will affect government jobs, production lines and military communities. But they are critical if we are going to harness technology to futurize our forces.

These changes will require the support of Congress and the American people. So it is important that we make clear what is at stake. So let me explain what we determined and where we still need to go.

First of all, we live in a changed world. On the one hand, it is a better world. The threat of global war is gone. American values of democracy, free markets and free trade are spreading around the world, fostering peace, stability and prosperity in their wake. We have renewed relations with old allies and developed new partnerships with old enemies.

On the other hand, we also have a world of danger and uncertainty. There is the threat of large-scale aggression by Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Failed or failing states may touch off internal conflict, destabilize a region or create a humanitarian crisis. Biological weapons, nerve agents and the makings of nuclear weapons are falling into hostile hands, increasing the chance of attack. In fact, since our Armed Forces are the most powerful in the world, we stand a greater chance of being attacked not directly, head-to-head, but by asymmetric means, including terrorism, chemical or biological weapons, or information warfare.

Those are the devils we know. There are also devils we don't know in our future. We could face coercion and aggression by more capable regional powers; threats to American citizens and soil; greater and more creative asymmetrical challenges that search for an Achilles' heel in our military superiority; as well as wild card scenarios, such as the hostile takeover of friendly regimes. And beyond the year 2010, we could even see a great power or a global peer emerge that is hostile to our interests.

How should the United States deal with these potential threats? The foundation of our defense is to remain engaged in the world, out there every day trying to enlarge the realm of democracy and stability. We do this through a combination of diplomacy, national will and military presence. If we pull back, the dangers will grow more plentiful and severe.

Given that we need to remain engaged, our vision for future security involves a three-part defense strategy.

First, we must try to shape the world for the better. Our military forces can promote more democracy in more nations, more cooperation among nations, more stability in more regions, and help reduce threats to our interests and allies. Our forces are conducting peacetime training exercises with militaries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia. We invited Chinese Navy warships to visit our California ports. We are also helping the former Soviet republics dismantle their Cold War nuclear arsenals. We are working with Latin American militaries to promote democratic military reform, protect human rights and fight illegal drug trafficking. And we sponsor multi-national security conferences and invite military officers from new democracies to attend our military colleges.

We also deter aggression and conflict by keeping a strong US military force presence in key regions on land and at sea, and the ability to project power quickly anywhere in the world. So we will keep about 100,000 forces in the Pacific, another 100,000 in Europe and tens of thousands rotating through the Arabian Gulf.

But as we try to shape the world, we still need to maintain strong, ready military forces that can respond quickly and decisively to a range of threats to US interests.

At the high end of the scale, we maintain forces that can deter and, if necessary, defeat major aggression in two regions at nearly the same time -- namely, in Korea and the Arabian Gulf. Some ask why we need this two-war capability, and why we have such large forces devoted to it. The answer is because it guarantees that if we are fighting aggression in one region, it doesn't encourage another aggressor on the other side of the world. And our forces are large because we don't want a fair fight -- we want to win quickly, decisively and with minimal risk to American forces, as we did in Desert Storm.

But we also call on these forces to do much more than fight major theater wars. In the past five years, our forces actually have focused more on conducting smaller-scale contingencies from day-to-day. These include show-of-force operations, like when we sent two carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Straits when China made threats against Taiwan. Or limited strikes, like when we launched air strikes against Iraq when it threatened the Kurds. Or civilian evacuation operations, like when we rescued Americans from strife-torn Liberia and Albania, and prepared to do so in Zaire. Or peace enforcement, as our forces are doing in Bosnia. Or humanitarian assistance, like when we delivered clean water to Rwanda when civil war led to a cholera outbreak. These kinds of operations are a defining element of today's security environment -- and they are likely to remain so in the future.

Some may ask, we're not the world's policeman -- why are we doing so many of these peacetime operations? We need to be selective, and we are. We carefully avoided getting involved in East Zaire despite significant international pressure. But quite often, these relatively low-risk missions can prevent threats and crises from turning into larger conflicts that cost us more in blood and treasure. And we're not doing them alone, but with allies and other nations. This not only shares the burden, it also helps to promote greater military cooperation.

But if a major aggressor strikes, our forces must be able to turn away from these smaller contingencies and rush to the threatened region, ready to dominate and defeat enemy forces in a major theater war. That means that our forces must be multi- mission capable. They need to be highly mobile, agile and flexible. They need to be organized, trained, equipped and managed with multiple missions in mind. They need to have quality people, superior intelligence, full access to space, the seas and the skies, and robust air and sealift. They need to be the best Armed Forces in the world, without peer.

We have those peerless forces today. But the toughest question is, how do we guarantee our forces will be peerless in the future? What is our vision for the future force?

That leads to the third part of our strategy -- preparing our forces for the future. We need to begin developing the future force today. We won the Gulf War with technology developed in the 1970s and 80s. The 21st Century force will fight with technology we develop today. Consequently, we need a new vision for the future force. There is a technology revolution out there that we commonly call the Revolution in Military Affairs. We can harness this revolution to transform the way our forces fight, and give them a superior edge against any adversary. We must harness this revolution, for if we don't, somebody else will -- to our grave peril.

Look what happened in World War II. In the European theater, we helped to defeat Nazi forces after the US Army married new battle-tank technology with new mobile warfighting concepts, tactics and doctrine. In the Pacific theater, we won the war at sea by harnessing aircraft, battleships and new warfighting techniques to create the aircraft carrier battle group. And we won the island-hopping campaign by creating amphibious warfare that combined new ways of fighting with new equipment.

We defeated global aggression in the 1940s because in the 1920s and 30s, there were Americans with vision and a commitment to prepare for an uncertain future. Today, we have the same challenge -- and the same chance -- to launch another Revolution in Military Affairs, once again combining new technology with new ways of fighting. How we protect our security in the 20-teens will be determined by our vision and commitment today in the 90s.

Today's revolution begins with advanced versions of the stealth aircraft and precision-guided smart munitions that we used to such devastating effect in Desert Storm. But what makes our vision truly revolutionary is the harnessing of information technology and platforms -- computers, satellites, sensors and reconnaissance vehicles -- into a new command and control system. This system will give our commanders and troops what we call information dominance -- a clear, constant and complete picture of the seas, skies, terrain and everything in it ... lightening communications ... and a greater ability to control the combat theater, manage the battle and utilize smart weapons.

Information dominance will give our forces a quantum leap in capability. They will be able to out-maneuver and out-position the enemy with greater intelligence, speed, mobility, agility and versatility. They will be able to identify and destroy targets with pinpoint accuracy. They will be able to have the supplies they need, just in time, when and where they need them. As a result, fighting units can be smaller and lighter. They will need fewer weapons platforms. They will cause less collateral damage, and suffer less friendly fire and fewer casualties. And they will be able to surprise and overwhelm the enemy and end the battle quickly on our terms -- sometimes even before it starts.

This is not science fiction. Right now, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are developing and testing these new technologies and concepts in actual warfighting situations under names like Force 21, Sea Dragon and Experiment Alpha. The results are very impressive. I've seen them for myself. Our vision is becoming a reality. The future force is within our grasp.

But there's a catch. Realizing this vision will be expensive. It's one thing to envision the future force, but quite another to finance it. Defense budgets probably are going to remain flat for the foreseeable future, at about $250 billion a year. And we cannot ask for a greater share of the federal budget pie. We must be able to finance today's force, while investing in the future force.

But we haven't succeeded in doing that. In the past few years, we've had to migrate funds out of our procurement budget to pay for day-to-day operations and support. As a result, our procurement budget has eroded, leaving a large shortfall in our modernization accounts each year.

So as we imagined the future force, we also had to face the fiscal reality of halting the procurement erosion if we are to achieve our vision. The question comes down to: how can we both maintain today's force for today's world, while investing in the future force for tomorrow? How can we afford to launch a new Revolution in Military Affairs?

The answer is, we must launch a Revolution in Business Affairs at the Department of Defense in order to pay for the Revolution in Military Affairs. Only then will we generate the savings needed to assure the full funding of our modernization programs.

We cannot build a 21st Century military force on top of a 20th Century organization. But in too many respects, the Department is still stuck in the Cold War. Our infrastructure is too big. Our overhead is too high. Our processes and procedures have too many steps. There is too much bureaucracy, paperwork, red tape, duplication, repetition and inefficiency. Many of the laws, rules and habits that govern our support activities were designed for the Cold War, but still they survive.

We need to overhaul the way the Department operates, and not just to reduce costs and devote more resources to modernizing the force. We also need a leaner, more efficient DoD so we can serve the warfighter faster, better and more cheaply. We need a DoD that is just as agile, flexible and responsive as the troops we support.

To build the 21st Century DoD, we can borrow the lessons learned by the corporate sector. Over the past fifteen years, private industry has reorganized, restructured and adopted revolutionary new business and management practices, in order to maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace. DoD must follow suit so that our forces can maintain their competitive edge in the global security environment of the future.

To begin with, we need more base closures. Even after four rounds, we still have excess capacity. Look at the numbers. Since 1985, we have reduced the forces by 33 percent. But so far we have reduced bases by only 26 percent worldwide -- and just 21 percent if you count only the US bases. By the same token, we've only reduced the civilian and military personnel associated with bases and support facilities by 28 percent. So we need another two rounds of BRAC. And we need to reduce about 100,000 civilian and military personnel associated with bases and support facilities.

But we need to do much more than close more bases. DoD also needs to deregulate, downsize, streamline and reengineer our support activities. We need to adopt more of the innovative business practices used in the private sector in three basic areas.

First, we need to operate more efficiently and effectively. We have just begun to overhaul the organization and structures of many of our field activities, such as our inventory and distribution system, financial management system, civilian personnel system, health system, travel system and commissary system. We need to reengineer the major support functions and reorganize accordingly. Reengineering generally involves the 3Cs -- consolidate, computerize and commercialize. The goal in all cases is the same: better service and performance at lower operating costs.

Second, we need to buy smarter through acquisition reform. We are overhauling the massive DoD acquisition system by adopting the best commercial standards and commercial buying practices and getting rid of unneeded regulations. Now we must apply our new acquisition system to all programs, from the big buys to the smaller buys, all the way down to the base level.

Third, we need to rely on the private sector for more of our goods and non-core activities. That means we must outsource far more of our support activities -- that is, allow commercial companies to compete for the work. Our experience with outsourcing shows we can focus better on our core tasks, get better quality service, reduce costs, be more responsive, and get better access to new commercial technologies.

Modernizing DoD will challenge some sacred cows. Already, some members of Congress are saying we can't cut bases. But to ensure that our Armed Forces remain the most powerful in the world today and in the future, we need to make some stark choices about what's more important. The bottom line is, do we want to build a superior force for the 21st Century? Or protect an old, inefficient infrastructure from the 20th Century? While I expect the debate to be heated, I firmly believe that the Congress will support us.

It is a quirk of history that we are going to make such revolutionary changes to DoD today, our 50th anniversary. But nobody would better recognize the need for this revolution than man who created the Department -- Harry Truman.

Truman's rise to national prominence and the presidency began with his leadership of the Truman Committee, which investigated inefficiency and waste in defense. Later when President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which created the Department of Defense, he did so on board his official presidential plane. It was nicknamed, The Sacred Cow.

Today, we must recognize that when it comes to protecting our national security, there is only one sacred cow. It is a strong, well prepared and well equipped military force. That must be our single focus as we make the tough national security choices for the next 50 years.

I urge you to assist us in making those choices. Thank you.

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