Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 38-- The Force Is as Lean as Risk Allows While U.S. forces are fully ready today, the nation's top military leader warns that postponing modernization risks the future combat readiness of the U.S. military forces.
Volume 11, Number 38
The Force Is as Lean as Risk Allows
Prepared statement of Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, USA, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the House on National Security Committee, March 6, 1996.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. It is a great pleasure and a great honor to be here today representing America's men and women in uniform. It seems that each time I've come before you for these hearings, I've begun my testimony with a description of how very busy the past year has been for our forces and how very well they've performed. Today will be no different.
During the last year, our forces have remained engaged in a sizable number of simultaneous operations spread across the globe. Today, there are approximately 54,000 of our men and women in uniform and around 1,300 defense civilians committed to overseas contingencies.
For those who've been deployed for these missions and for their families, it has been often stressful, arduous and demanding. Yet they have, and they continue to, perform superbly.
We owe them our gratitude, for despite an extremely high operations tempo, the readiness of our units and the morale and enthusiasm of the troops have stayed very high. They make it impossible to look back at this year without feeling an enormous sense of pride.
Among the past year's efforts, there were two particularly notable milestones. Two months ago, I attended the formal closing ceremony for Joint Task Force 160 -- the same unit that for the previous 20 months handled the refugees that poured out of the dictatorships in Haiti and Cuba; that plucked over 60,000 men, women and children out of the dangerous Caribbean waters; that built 15 huge camps to house, feed and care for them; and that provided safe and humane conditions until the refugees were either allowed to enter the United States or returned to their homelands.
I could not be more proud of the way our men and women performed this long and uniquely difficult mission. They handled these many thousands of refugees with compassion and understanding while administering to their needs with unequaled efficiency. Today, their mission completed, the camps have been closed, and the men and women of the task force have returned home.
The other milestone occurred this past month, when for the first time in history, the second democratically elected president of Haiti took office and shortly thereafter we began the redeployment of our forces -- right on schedule. We entered Haiti in September 1994 with a sound military plan, we followed that plan, and we accomplished all that was asked of us.
The rapid introduction of American military forces stopped the cycle of violence, halted the flow of refugees and created a secure and stable environment which made possible the legislative and presidential election process. By March 31, 1995, the recruitment and training of a new police force had so stabilized the situation that American forces could be greatly reduced, and the Haitian operation was turned over to the United Nations.
Despite some initial problems, legislative and presidential elections were conducted and, on Feb. 7, for the first time in Haiti's history, an elected president turned over his office to another freely elected president. While a small United Nations presence will remain in Haiti a while longer, American units will continue to return home and will be out of Haiti by April 15 of this year. All that will remain will be small, periodic, engineer exercises like those we conduct with a number of our other southern neighbors.
Starting in December, we became actively engaged in the NATO operation in Bosnia. Over the course of two months, we deployed nearly 20,000 active and reserve military personnel into Bosnia to join a coalition of some 30 other countries to help carry out the military aspects of the Dayton peace accord. Additionally, nearly 8,000 support forces were deployed to the countries around Bosnia.
Now, nearly 80 days into the operation, our presence has been pivotal in forging the coalition that is helping to manage the peace and in brokering the on-the-ground implementation of the accord: withdrawal of the warring factions from the zones of separation, the release of prisoners of war, the separation of military forces and the withdrawal from territory to be transferred. While there are still problems to be overcome, such as small, remaining pockets of banned foreign forces and occasional intransigence by Bosnian Serbs, overall compliance has been relatively good.
As I have witnessed on each of my three trips to Bosnia, our troops are performing extremely well, and morale is high. Much of this is due to outstanding leadership, diligent preparation and the impressive strides being made in the quality of life for our forces through extensive base camp preparation, the opening of AAFES [Army and Air Force Exchange Service] outlets, and routine mail and "[The] Stars and Stripes" deliveries.
From the beginning, we correctly perceived that mines, the lone sniper and severe weather and road conditions would be our major enemies. We were correct, and the combination of smart precautions and good training have gone a long way to minimizing the numbers of casualties that could have resulted.
Our forces operating in Bosnia were very well prepared and rehearsed before they were allowed to deploy. Their mission and rules of engagement have been properly prescribed, and they have established a strong, controlling presence between the former warring parties.
More than that, they have also been instrumental in forging [a] historic coalition. Just a few years ago, few would have imagined that it would have been possible to cobble together a force including NATO nations, Central Europeans and Russians, striving to achieve a common purpose. Here again, sound preparation on the part of our forces has paid off well.
Our challenge now is to remember that we still have over nine months to go and that we must ensure that our force is as ready, alert and resolute on the last day of this mission as it was on the first. That is the greatest guarantee for success of the mission and the safety of the force.
But these have not been the only operations involving our forces. We have over 23,000 servicemen and women deployed in the Arabian Gulf region to preserve regional peace and stability, to enforce U.N.-ordered sanctions against Iraq and to deter further Iraqi aggression. We have added pre-positioned equipment to the region to support brigade-sized units; we have periodically deployed an Army mechanized task force for training, and for the first time ever, we conducted a no-notice deployment into the region of an air expeditionary force.
We are maintaining a very active joint and multinational exercise program, which includes participation from carrier battle groups, special forces and amphibious ready groups operating in the region. Farther north in Turkey, we continue to work with our coalition partners to enforce the no-fly zone and to oversee the humanitarian aid program in northern Iraq.
In addition to this, the Army continued to provide forces in support of the 11-nation Multinational Force and Observers on the Sinai Peninsula, as specified in the Camp David Accord. Currently, nearly 1,000 U.S. service members are deployed as part of the infantry battalion task force or logistics support element. Of note, the last infantry battalion rotation for 1995 was formed, for the first time, as a composite unit of active duty and reserve component personnel. This initiative proved highly successful and will be considered for future rotations.
In Korea, some 36,000 U.S. forces remain ready as political, cultural and economic conditions continue to deteriorate in the North. The increasing instability in North Korea, fueled by severe food and energy problems, requires constant vigilance and further complicates our indications and warning capability.
Force modernization efforts continue to focus on increasing interoperability between ROK [Republic of Korea] and U.S. forces and increasing the theater's counterbattery-fire capability. As well, all armored elements of the Korean pre-positioning brigade set are in. My recent visits to Seoul and the DMZ [demilitarized zone] have shown me that our efforts of the last two years to strengthen our defensive posture have been timely and most effective.
In the Southern Hemisphere, U.S. forces were engaged in defusing one conflict while simultaneously supporting efforts to reduce the traffic of drugs. Hostilities erupted in January 1995 in the region along the Peruvian-Ecuadorian border and in March 1995, four countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the U.S. -- responded to a request to provide military observers to assist in the monitoring of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of forces. We presently have 61 U.S. military personnel and four helicopters participating in this mission. There have been no cease-fire violations since September 1995, while Peru and Ecuador continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the border dispute. While the Peru-Ecuador dispute was ongoing, USSOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] organized and initiated the most extensive counterdrug surge operation ever aimed against the narcotraffickers' air bridge between Peru and Colombia. In cooperation with allied nations and law enforcement agencies, we focused our detection and monitoring assets on disrupting and hindering drug trafficking air operations.
The results were impressive. Overall air activity decreased significantly, and cooperation between allied nations as well as the interagency improved noticeably. The successes were significant enough to warrant USSOUTHCOM to plan a follow-on operation aimed simultaneously at riverine, maritime, land, as well as air drug traffickers.
Our success in these many recent military operations is a testament to the readiness of our forces. When I became chairman, I asked to make and keep readiness our No. 1 priority. This has been done, and the benefits have been and remain evident in every one of these operations. That said, I ask that you continue your support for the readiness of the force, even as the chiefs and I are redoubling our efforts to ensure that potential lapses in readiness are detected before they become problems.
We have added a new way of looking at readiness. It includes the traditional measures that ensure individual battalions and squadrons and ships are manned, trained and equipped for mission success. But in addition to that, we have added a critical link to how we look at joint readiness -- the theater commanders' ability to integrate and synchronize their forces and capabilities into an effective and cohesive fighting team.
The system by which we look at unit and joint readiness centers on a monthly report by services, unified commands and Department of Defense combat support agencies. We ask them to assess their readiness to conduct day-to-day operations as well as the most demanding aspects of executing our national military strategy. Participants also forecast their readiness over the next 12 months. In addition to looking at specific units, we assess broad functional areas like mobility, intelligence, communications and logistics.
This Joint Monthly Readiness Review has been up and running for a little over a year. To complement this, I have directed the development of a comprehensive readiness information management system to integrate the existing and developing readiness tools of the services and CinCs [commanders in chief]. It will provide easily accessible and timely information for all users over the newly activated Global Command and Control System.
Our joint exercise and training program continues to be a readiness multiplier. Joint simulation efforts are providing innovative opportunities to stress our battle staffs while enhancing the overall utility of joint exercises for every participant.
I am continuing to work with the CinCs to further focus our joint training efforts on key readiness challenges, while taking advantage of opportunities to leverage technology to conserve our training resources. This emphasis on readiness helps ensure that the men and women who have dedicated their lives to our nation's defense have the resources and training they need to do the job. It also ensures that their commanders can raise red flags and take quick action when called for.
We are also continuing to enhance our long-term readiness through our education system. Joint education now starts before officers are commissioned and continues throughout their careers. Increased emphasis on joint doctrine, multinational operations and systems integration provides the CinCs a more capable, adaptive force.
Finally, the new reporting systems provide us the vital readiness information needed to make timely decisions on resource allocation and force commitment. All these efforts and others have helped keep readiness at ... consistently high levels ... .
Although readiness trends remain strong, we must maintain a vigilant watch. A major challenge to near-term readiness is how to use the unique capabilities of the armed forces to advance our national interests in peacetime while maintaining our readiness to fight and win this nation's wars. We are getting much smarter at this and at anticipating areas of stress before they become readiness problems.
To that end, we are incorporating better the significant capabilities that reside in our reserve forces. We are continually looking for ways to conduct wartime mission training even while our forces are deployed to real-world operations. We are closely managing those low density, high leverage capabilities -- including intelligence, mobility and support assets -- needed to execute the full range of our military missions.
I must point out, however, that readiness is a fragile commodity. Once the intricate processes of manning with quality personnel, and equipping and training units are disrupted, recovery often requires significant time and resources. That is why maintaining readiness is critically dependent on timely and full reimbursement of costs associated with unplanned contingency operations.
Thanks to your support and the unyielding care and concern and support of the American people, I can report to you that ours is the most ready force in the world today. Which leads to the true source of our successes over the past year -- great people and our strong and continued commitment to them and their families. Readiness is inextricably tied to the quality of life we provide for these outstanding men and women in uniform and their families.
With regard to quality of life, the Joint Chiefs, CinCs and I have revalidated the central importance of our Top Four priorities in support of our people ... . Adequate and fair compensation, a stable retirement system, steady and dependable level of medical benefits and adequate housing, especially outside CONUS [continental United States], each require special attention. The recent trend of full funding for the maximum allowable pay raises has minimized the growth of the pay gap.
The secretary's decision to increase funding for military housing, including efforts to increase barracks support, pursue housing privatization initiatives and boost Basic Allowance for Quarters, when coupled with other policies in support of our Top Four, are helping to maintain the quality of life of our personnel and their families.
As we continue to adjust our military medical infrastructure and personnel, we must ensure that we preserve affordable, accessible health benefits with no surcharge for active duty members and their families. We must also keep faith with our military retirees, and so I urge you to help bring about Medicare subvention, which would allow many retirees to remain in the military medical care system by reimbursing DoD for the treatment of Medicare-eligible military retirees.
The quality of recruits in our four services remains high. Last year, 96 percent of our recruits were high school graduates. We must continue to keep this high standard even as we face increasing recruitment challenges in the years ahead; thus, your support of the services' recruiting budgets is essential. It goes without saying that protecting the Top Four quality of life priorities also greatly enhances our recruiting and retention efforts. ...
The drawdown which has been ongoing since the end of the Cold War is nearly complete. The manner in which this drawdown has been managed and executed is a real success story. We've stayed on a steady, controlled glide path, adjusting where we had to, and ensured that those measures most critical to the health of our force were properly protected. Every important indicator of military excellence remains strong -- readiness is high, the quality of our people and their morale remains superb, and our force structure, despite deep cuts, has been reduced with minimum instability and turbulence.
We have broken the cycle of military decline that has followed every conflict in this century. Making this success all the more impressive is that we accomplished this drawdown without missing a beat, while at the same time engaging in a wide range of contingencies and operations.
The experience of these past few years has fortified our confidence that the force structure we will have at the end of the drawdown will be what we will continue to require during the remainder of this decade and into the next century. Our enduring force structure requirements are based primarily on our tasks: to prevent threats to our interests from arising, to deter those threats that do emerge and to defeat those threats by military force, should deterrence fail.
The United States is a global power, with far-flung, vital security interests in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and important interests on nearly every continent. Day-to-day military engagement with our friends and allies through a combination of forward-deployed and overseas-based U.S. forces in exercises, exchanges, visits and force presence worldwide will remain an essential element of our national military strategy.
Ultimately, protecting our interests will remain dependent on preserving sufficiently strong deterrent capabilities to handle both today's known, near-term threats and those that could materialize from a more uncertain and rapidly changing world than we have known for many decades. Managing that uncertainty has led us to discard our Cold War approach of maintaining a threat-based force towards a capability-based approach that ensures we protect the balance to handle today's real threats as well as tomorrow's equally real possibilities.
First and foremost, that means we must preserve a modern, well-maintained, robust triad of nuclear forces -- the backbone of deterrence. Currently, our nuclear forces are within START I [Strategic Arms Reduction Talks treaty] limits, but we have planned our future nuclear force to achieve START II limits in the event the treaty is ratified and implemented by the Russians.
The shape of the remainder of our forces [is] based on the need to fight and win two nearly simultaneous regional conflicts. Just looking back at the past few years, when we have several times nearly found ourselves in conflicts with North Korea and Iraq, our need to preserve this capability could not have been more clearly shown.
But it would be a mistake to think of this capability as contingent on contemporary threats alone. It is based instead on a longer-range calculation of our extensive global interests and the corresponding necessity to ensure that we never find ourselves in the vicarious predicament of committing our forces to one conflict, knowing that we will expose our other vital interests as a result. If we were to discard half of this two MRC [major regional contingency] capability or allow it to decay, it would take many years to rebuild a force of comparable excellence.
In today's turbulent international environment, where the future posture of so many powerful nations remains precarious, we could find ourselves with too little, too late. As long as we remain a global power with vital international interests and allies whom we are committed to help defend, we must preserve our capability to fight and win two nearly simultaneous regional conflicts.
The force structure we have designed for this purpose is as lean as the calculus of risk will afford. This is the force structure we must retain.
While the '97 budget protects the quality of life for our people, our force structure and readiness, I am concerned that we are not procuring equipment and weapon systems at the rate necessary to recapitalize the force. Accordingly, we must turn our attention in earnest to this challenge or risk the future combat readiness of the U.S. military. Procurement has continued to pay the bill for readiness and force structure over the past decade and now hovers at a post-World War II low of about $40 billion.
For the past two years, I have testified that we could sustain this procurement hiatus temporarily, but not indefinitely. It was the proper course of action at a time when because we were reducing our forces, through a combination of discarding our oldest equipment and preserving and redistributing only our newest and most modern equipment, the average age of our remaining arsenal was younger than any time in recent decades.
With downsizing coming to an end, we must now increase our procurement accounts. For if we fail to do that, we may well wear out our weapons systems and equipment before they can be modernized or replaced.
To recapitalize this force, we must face head-on some rather difficult decisions. I firmly believe that we must commit ourselves to the adequate recapitalization of our force structure -- that will require a procurement goal of approximately $60 billion annually. It will take tough management decisions, innovation and even revolutionary approaches, as well as your support, to adequately recapitalize our force within our current budget top-line projections.
One answer lies in aggressively pursuing institutional and business opportunities. We must continue to pursue with all energy acquisition reforms, commercial off-the-shelf opportunities, privatization, outsourcing of noncore activities, and further reductions of our infrastructure. The sum of all of these initiatives must be reinvested into our procurement accounts. Just as important, we must strive to gain greater efficiencies in warfighting, and we have already started this process through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
Over the past two years, the Joint Chiefs, the CinCs and I have built a new process to better assess our joint warfighting needs and provide sound, joint programmatic advice. As you know, before the passage of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, the programmatic influence, role and responsibilities of the chairman were by design narrow and tightly circumscribed. We've worked to institutionalize the spirit of Goldwater-Nichols to create new joint mechanisms and systems so we can provide the secretary of defense, the president and the Congress with a joint view on programmatic and budgetary issues.
As the engine for this process, the responsibilities of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council have been expanded to produce this joint view. Although the JROC has been in existence for over a decade, the vice chairman and I have broadened its mandate and made it a focal point for addressing our joint warfighting needs and making specific programmatic recommendations that will lead to an increased joint warfighting capability, increased interoperability between systems and a reduction in unnecessary redundancies and marginally effective systems, all within existing budget levels. Those of you who remember the very limited and constrained influence that jointness suffered in the way business was done in the past will recognize the sea change presented by this new charter.
I appreciate the support of Congress for recently including the JROC in Title 10 and codifying both its membership and its charter. This body has already proven itself, and its value will only increase further over time.
To provide the analyses needed to support this effort, we've also created the Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment process as detailed above. This is our primary vehicle for obtaining a capabilities-based assessment of broad mission areas across service and defense agency lines.
JWCA teams, each sponsored by a Joint Staff directorate, examine key relationships and interactions among joint warfighting capabilities and identify opportunities for improved effectiveness. The assessments are continuous and lend insight into issues involving requirements, readiness and plans for recapitalizing joint military capabilities. The JROC oversees the JWCA process and provides its findings to the CinCs and the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff].
One of the more important provisions of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation was the requirement for me to submit to the secretary of defense an annual Chairman's Program Assessment, a document that independently assesses the joint adequacy of programs, which I provide to the SECDEF [secretary of defense] for his consideration during his budgetary deliberations. I have found the JWCA process extraordinarily helpful in providing me the analysis and insights to craft the recommendations I offer in the CPA. As this process has evolved, we have also found it useful to use the JWCA products in developing a front-end recommendation, the Chairman's Program Recommendations. The CPR is provided to the SECDEF for his use in developing the Defense Planning Guidance, the key document that guides the services in the development of their budgets.
The difficult choices to be made require strong processes, but they also require a strategic vision, a template to provide a common direction for our services in developing their unique capabilities. To meet this need, I will approve for release this month a document entitled "Joint Vision 2010."
"Joint Vision 2010" provides an operationally based framework for the further development of the U.S. armed forces. It recognizes as the basis for our future the significant institutional achievements and the outstanding men and women of our armed forces which have brought us today's high quality force. Then, examining the strategic environment, the missions we face and the implications of modern technology, it develops new joint operational concepts from which our future military requirements can be derived.
The objective of this vision is to achieve what we term Full-Spectrum Dominance -- the capability of our armed forces to dominate any opponent across the range of military operations. We can achieve this objective by leveraging today's high-quality forces and force structure with leading-edge technology to attain better command, control and intelligence and to implement new operational concepts -- dominant maneuver, precision strike, full-dimensional protection and focused logistics. It is these new joint operational concepts, and the improved command, control and intelligence which will make them possible, that will focus the strengths of each of our services and guide the evolution of joint doctrine, education, and training to bring us Full-Spectrum Dominance.
This past year the men and women of our armed forces have given us any number of reasons to be proud. We have called on them often to go and perform difficult missions, from Korea to Bosnia, from Haiti to Kuwait. They are performing at levels of excellence unsurpassed by any other time in our country's history. Wherever we send them, they go with pride and determination.
Americans are rightfully proud of the men and women who serve our country so ably and well. For me, it is a great honor to represent them and to come before you today. On their behalf, I thank you for your unwavering support.
Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.