Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch today called for a constructive debate on
the merits of America's defense program that goes beyond the question of budget
In a speech at the National Defense University, Deutch said the question of
whether enough is being spent on defense is a serious one, but it is not the
only question that should be asked.
"The question of whether we're spending enough lends itself to the endless
yes-we-are, no-you're-not school of political argumentation. If you ask if
we're spending enough to buy what we say we need, then you might get an
answer," Deutch said.
Deutch outlined President Clinton's defense program and said recent actions by
the President and by Secretary of Defense William Perry were aimed at making
sure the defense program in general and force readiness in particular had
Readiness has already become a hotly debated issue. In the speech, Deutch
additional steps are being taken to keep a closer watch on readiness. Deutch
chairs the Senior Readiness Oversight Council. He said he has asked Admiral
Bill Owens, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to continually assess
the overall readiness of U.S. forces and report monthly to the council.
"On average, we are providing more readiness dollars per active duty unit than
was true in the past. I say that because our force structure is declining but
our spending on readiness related operations and maintenance is increasing,"
But the deputy secretary noted that readiness isn't managed on averages, it is
managed by the ability of units to meet their assigned missions. Thus, he
said, Secretary Perry assigned the additional duty of monthly readiness
assessments to the Senior Readiness Oversight Council.
Deutch's text, as prepared for delivery, reads as follows:
"Do We Have Enough Money for Defense"
The Hon. John Deutch
Deputy Secretary of Defense
The National Defense University
January 3, 1995
Today, I would like to address the question "Are we spending enough on
defense?" It is a question that we shall hear frequently from the new
Congress. And it deserves to be considered seriously. Nothing is more
important to our country, our allies and to peace in the world than to assure
that we have made adequate provisions for the National Defense.
But are we spending enough is not the right question to ask first if we
are really interested in the answer.
If we are really interested in getting this right, the questions should be
something like this:
What are our defense needs?
Do we have the right program and force structure to support these needs?
Do we have the right priorities?
And if we are right, then are we providing enough resources?
Put another way, the question of whether we're spending enough lends itself to
the endless yes-we-are, no-you're-not school of political argumentation. If,
on the other hand, you ask if we're spending enough to buy what we say we need,
then you might actually get an answer.
Today, I propose to take this second road. I want to address this issue in
two steps: First, I want to present briefly the broad outlines of the
Administration's Defense Policy and how we think about force posture,
readiness, and modernization programs that support that policy. Then I would
like to deal with the debate that has been conducted about this policy, most of
it dealing with money.
The basis for the Administration's Defense Policy is the "Bottom-up Review"
commissioned by Les Aspin when he became Secretary of Defense at the beginning
of this Administration. The purpose of the "Bottom-up Review" was to determine
how to deal with the new threats of the post Cold War world. To determine what
strategy we needed and to determine the force structure needed to support the
There are three elements to that strategy:
First, the Soviet conventional threat to Europe has disappeared. This
was the threat that dominated our force structure planning. It is gone. What
do we need conventional military forces for? There are unstable and hostile
areas in the world where vital U.S. interests could be threatened. U. S.
military involvement cannot be ruled out in these regions. The two most
prominent possibilities are major conflicts in South West Asia and in the Far
East. Therefore, we must be able to deal with these kinds of Major Regional
Conflicts. And we must have sufficient forces to deal with them, "almost
simultaneously." This is necessary because we must have sufficient residual
forces to deter the opportunistic launching of a second conflict when we are
already involved in the first Major Regional Conflict.
The second element of the strategy is to meet the new dangers that have
emerged in the post Cold War world that require capabilities possessed by our
defense forces. The important examples are:
Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, as in North
Various Peace Operations, as in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia
Humanitarian assistance as in Rwanda
Counter-drug activities, especially in cooperation with our neighbors
in Latin America
Third, while the geo-military landscape has changed dramatically, there
remains a formidable residual nuclear capability with four of the states of the
former Soviet Union -- Russia, above all, Belarus, Kazakhistan and Ukraine.
The United States has a major interest in reducing the threat posed by these
nuclear weapons, and in using new, cooperative efforts to do so -- cooperative
efforts made possible by the end of the Cold War.
Clearly, this is an ambitious agenda and we know intuitively that it requires
considerable forces that are reconfigured and trained to deal with situations
much different from stopping Soviet armor from flowing across the German border
through the Fulda Gap.
To find out what we actually needed, during the Bottom-Up Review, civilian
analysts and military analysts of the Joint Staff carried out cooperatively
analysis of force structure requirements. This thorough-going analysis
concluded that a smaller force structure could carry out the strategy. Indeed
we are planning for a drop of approximately 40% in active duty Army, a
reduction of 25% in Air Force fighter wings, and a reduction from a Navy of
almost 600 ships to about 350 ships between 1989 and the end of the century.
Both this strategy and the force structure have come in for some criticism.
From the left, we heard that it was unnecessary to prepare for two nearly
simultaneous conflicts. From the right we heard some criticism that the force
structure was inadequate to execute the strategy.
I submit to you today that these are basically settled questions. Most
believe that the two Major Regional Conflict strategy is a prudent, appropriate
response to these uncertain and unstable times. There is more discussion
about whether the force structure is big enough for the strategy, but here,
too, I believe most think our forces are adequate if we are careful about how
we use them.
The core debate is over whether we are spending enough for defense; whether we
have cut too much too soon, as one formulation has it.
It is certainly true that this smaller force structure costs less money. The
budget of the Department has fallen, in real terms, from a high in FY85 of
about $390 B per year to its current level of approximately $250 B per year.
The American tax payer had a correct expectation that the disappearance of the
Soviet threat should mean some savings in the defense budget.
But the size of our defense budget is not determined solely by the size of our
forces. A major portion of the defense budget is devoted to the need to
maintain ready forces. Force structure that is not maintain at a state of
readiness appropriate to its mission is ineffective.
We don't buy an aircraft carrier, an Army division, an Air Force wing, put it
on the shelf and expect it to be ready to fight when needed. We have to pay
for training, for exercises, for fuel and ammunition, for repair and
maintenance. We must also take care of families and provide a decent quality
of life to our men and women in uniform. We have to pay for a whole host of
things that make up force readiness.
The reason that the defense budget savings are not larger today has to do
with the need to preserve readiness. In all past periods of U.S. history
when military draw downs have occurred -- after World War I, World War II, and
the Vietnam, war -- the draw down in force structure has been accompanied by a
reduction in the readiness of the remaining forces. In times of draw down,
force structure has been protected at the expense of readiness.
President Clinton and Secretary Bill Perry have made it clear that this is not
going to happen today. Why? Simply put, the security threats that confront
the United States do not allow us to have unready forces. And they especially
don't allow us to have unready forces at the lower active duty force strengths
we are planning.
Events have made it clear beyond question that this is the right policy.
During this past year, we saw the possibility of a major regional conflict with
Iraq and with North Korea. Significant U.S. forces have been involved in
peacekeeping activities in Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Somalia. As we meet here
today, approximately 50,000 U.S. forces are involved in military operations
somewhere around the world. We cannot afford forces that are not ready to do
I believe just about everyone agrees with this proposition. The need for
readiness isn't an issue. What has been at issue in the debate is whether we
are maintaining it. Let me address that now. First, I'll speak to some
general propositions about readiness.
It should be said that we inherited a sound basis for readiness from our
predecessors. They gave us a ready force. We have maintained it.
When we took office, we made readiness our Number One priority as a matter of
policy. For the first time, we wrote into the department's Defense Policy
Guidance that readiness comes first. When there are conflicts with other
spending priorities, readiness comes first -- it's down in black and white.
Secretary Perry also created a Senior Readiness Oversight Council to keep
readiness policy and long-term issues before the department's chief
policy-makers. I chair that council.
What this has resulted in is a very high level of support for readiness. I
would stress that -- on average -- we are providing more readiness dollars per
active duty unit than was true in the past. I say that because our force
structure is declining but our spending on readiness related operations and
maintenance is increasing.
But, we don't manage readiness on the basis of averages. Some units are
designated to deploy promptly in response to contingencies and other units are
designated to be reinforcing. We maintain a staggered system of readiness and
our first readiness priority is given to the prompt response forces. Each
Service manages the readiness system in a slightly different way and the Joint
Staff continually appraises "joint" readiness from the viewpoint of the
At the same time, I have to admit that even with all this attention and
support, things can go wrong. For example, during Fiscal Year 1994, we did
not submit and Congress did not grant a budget supplemental to cover the
Service Operation and Maintenance accounts that we depleted by the contingency
operations that occurred late in the fiscal year, i.e. the Haitian and Cuban
migrant operations. The inevitable result was that funds were taken from later
deploying units and their readiness suffered. You may have read or heard that
three Army divisions recently fell below peak readiness and that two wings of
Naval Air, coming off deployment, had restricted flying hours. These were not
our first-to-go forces, but even so, it's not acceptable.
Therefore, Secretary Perry has directed the Senior Readiness Oversight Council
take on the added responsibility of reviewing monthly readiness indicators from
the services. And I have asked Admiral Bill Owens, the Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, to take on the job of collecting this material and
assessing overall readiness of our forces to fight. Each month, the Senior
Readiness Oversight Council will review the Service and CINCs readiness status
and take appropriate action to remedy deficiencies that are found. No system
can afford or should maintain all its systems at 100% ready. What is needed is
a responsive appraisal system that keeps track and adapts quickly.
And we intend to fund fully optempo and training, reduce maintenance
backlogs, and stop the deterioration in real property maintenance that has been
growing for several years.
In Fiscal 95 and the future we are going to be much more aggressive about
assuring that unplanned contingency costs do not adversely affect readiness.
In particular, we are going to seek budget supplementals for all military
and peacekeeping activities that have not been accounted for in the budget.
This is necessary to assure that paying for these contingencies does not draw
down funds from training, maintenance, and base support that are essential to
We must resist the temptation to measure support for defense by how much money
is being spent on readiness. We have a system of staggered readiness
where units -- divisions, ships, and air squadrons -- are maintained ready
according to the plans of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for deployment in a time
of crisis. Money need not be spent to maintain all units at equal readiness,
rather units must be maintained at a level of readiness appropriate to the
military mission the forces may confront.
People are essential to an effective and ready force. President Clinton and
Secretary Bill Perry stress this point. It leads us to place emphasis on both
military pay for our women and men in uniform and for programs that contribute
to the 'quality of life' of those who serve in the Armed Forces. Quality of
life programs address housing, child care, benefits, morale, welfare and
recreation and all those efforts which contribute to making the life of those
in the Armed Services bearable wherever they may be stationed.
These elements -- the strategy, the force structure and the readiness policy
-- comprise the answer to the first question -- what do we need for our
defense? Now we can ask the next question -- are we providing the resources to
buy it? Are we spending enough?
I want to make clear that Bill Perry and I believe that the answer today is
That has not always been true in the past and we have candidly discussed it.
In September, for instance, I testified in the Senate that our program was
underfunded by some $40 billion plus over a six-year period. There were a
number of elements contributing to this estimate of underfunding, including our
inflation assumptions. We have been conducting discussions for months within
the Clinton administration about how to deal with the budget requirements for
The issue was always how to afford the program we needed, not how to need the
program we could afford.
The President gave us an answer last month. He ordered $25 billion added to
the defense budget over six years to make sure we have a ready force, to make
sure our men and women in uniform have the quality of life improvements they
need and the salary increases they deserve, and to make sure we can afford our
New economic assumptions about inflation further reduced the gap, by roughly
$12 billion over the six year period. We also announced last month reductions
in some lower priority weapon system purchases in the near term in order to
provide approximately $10 billion additional support for readiness. All this
amounts to a strategy that puts people and readiness first, ahead of systems.
However, we must recognize that some modernization and, eventually, a great
deal of recapitalization of existing airplanes, ships and tanks will be
necessary as these systems reach the end of their useful life. The President's
$25 billion addition, which has been criticized as being 'back end loaded' to
the later years of the six-year planning period, actually provides the 1% real
growth in the defense budget when the modernization and recapitalization
expenditures are most needed.
In sum, the President's program provides the resources required to fund the
Bottom-up Review and the defense strategy it encompasses. Generally, we
believe the readiness and war fighting capability of our troops is very high
today. This readiness depends crucially on the professional capability of our
fighting women and men and this is why Bill Perry has insisted on initiatives
to improve the "quality of life" and the military pay of our soldiers, sailors,
airmen and Marines.
The best indicator of how ready our forces are is the incredibly high
performance they have demonstrated in Haiti and in the recent deployment to
Kuwait to meet Saddam Hussein's threat.
We have the best military in the world today supporting the right strategy for
the times. President Clinton has demonstrated he is committed to keeping it