MODERATOR: We're going to get started. We've got a couple of presentations from some senior officials from the Pentagon. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the presence of Mr. Rudy de Leon, the Under Secretary of Defense, along with the principal deputy in Reserve affairs, Mr. Charlie Cragin. Thank you so much for joining us.
I would like to welcome to the chamber the Honorable John Hamre, the Deputy Secretary of Defense. He's escorted by General Baca, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and by General Harrison. If you would rise and welcome them, please.
Also accompanied by Secretary Walker, the Acting Secretary of the Army.
GENERAL BACA: Mr. Secretary, Secretary Walker, Secretary de Leon, Charlie, good to have you here with us this morning. You know, I was thinking -- I'm not going to read Dr. Hamre's bio, all of you know Dr. Hamre and you've got a copy of his bio in your binders. But I was thinking this morning about his introduction and I was wondering, if you all had to make a decision as to who you were going to pick to be the Deputy Secretary of Defense in these times -- as we're moving into the new millennium, as we're moving into the 21st century -- and you had just picked a new Secretary of Defense and you were in the process of picking a Deputy Secretary of Defense, what qualities would you want in this individual.
And I was thinking at first, well, you would want somebody with way above average intelligence, you would want somebody that was extremely well-educated. And, of course you know, Dr. Hamre has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in international affairs. But you would also want someone that had a lot of experience. And you would want somebody that had experience not only in the Pentagon -- and let's talk about the Pentagon -- particularly in the Pentagon, and you would want in these days as we go in with diminishing resources and as we face tough budget situations -- you would want somebody that was extremely knowledgeable in the areas of finance and budget. And, of course, Dr. Hamre, as you know, was the comptroller from 1993 to 1997.
You would also want someone wise in the ways of Washington, that knew the Hill and more importantly, had the credibility with the folks in the Congress, that understood the entire budget process, understood the congressional process and again, had the faith and the confidence of the people up on the Hill. And as you know, Secretary Hamre served for six years as a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee and before that, in the Congressional Budget Office.
You would also want -- more importantly, you would want someone of impeccable character. You would want someone that reeked of integrity.
You would want someone -- and I'm serious, I'm very serious when I say this, and I don't mean to sound patronizing, sir, but I think everybody here understands that you have a reputation for a sense of fairness. And so it's not surprising to me that he was picked and he was selected. And it wasn't surprising to me that Secretary Cohen decided to give him the lead on probably what is the most important issue facing the Secretary of Defense, and that's integration. That's the implementation of his top priority, the total force policy.
And we look forward to working with you, Dr. Hamre, in making sure that that total force policy becomes a reality.
So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to none other than Dr. Hamre.
DR. HAMRE: Thank you, General Baca. You embarrass me. You're overly gracious with your introduction. Forgive me, I have a bad cold. I don't feel as bad as I sound. I think I'm no longer contagious, but it's a little hard for me to talk. So, forgive me for that.
I am very grateful to be invited. And I am very glad to be here. This is the first time I've had a chance to come here to AGAUS [Adjutant Generals Association of the United States]; this is really quite an impressive facility. I feel I'm coming to a friend's... You know, I had a chance to meet many of you the other night at General Baca's home. I had a chance to meet many of you at the birthday celebration about two months ago. It was really a great experience. And I was just very gratified to be with you at the readiness center.
I, as is always the case, I have people who have prepared a speech for me today. It was kind of your typical Deputy Secretary of Defense speech to the National Guard -- you know, you guys are great; America loves you; we can't live without you. You've heard it a thousand times. I could give that speech. But frankly, it would seem so hollow and empty. It would be like those Hollywood movie sets, you know, you think you're in a town but you walk through a door and there's nothing there.
And it would be dishonest if I basically gave that speech that was prepared for me because there are an awful lot of pretty hard issues on the table. And I think it's just an awful lot better if we just talk about that. I would like to start and then maybe we could engage in a dialogue, because I think we're at an enormously important time. And it's a time that we can't afford to screw this up. I really do need to at least share with you my thinking on it and then ask you what your thoughts are and we can maybe talk a bit about this.
You know, the truth is that last year was a bad year. It was a bad year for the Guard. It was a bad year for the Army. And frankly, it was a bad year for America when that happens. And it's not good to have this kind of a fight in the family.
I don't know if you remember that movie a couple of years back called War of the Roses. It was a husband and wife named Rose and they were going to get a divorce and they got so into cutting up furniture and cutting up the house, they ultimately destroyed everything and killed themselves in the process. I've got to tell you, that's a little bit of what went through my mind last year. It was painful. It was genuinely painful to watch.
I talked to both sides. I know how demeaning you felt the off-site process was. Please, I'm not saying this to offend anybody, but I think that many of you felt like the Army was treating you like a retarded half-brother -- he doesn't really understand; we'll just tell him what he's going to do; we'll get through it. It was demeaning. I understand that.
And I understand from the Army's perspective. The Army, as with all of the services, but the Army is struggling hard with a lot of changes -- enormous changes and transition. You've got 8,000 people over in Bosnia. Every year we start, we don't have any way to pay for it, you know. And then right now we're looking at an $800 million shortfall in the Army's budget to get through this year to pay for Bosnia. It's killing them, you know.
And so their attitude was, they're in the QDR, they're trying to save force structure. I think their view is that if they don't save force structure, nobody else will. You understand that sentiment. And they were looking increasingly like the Guard was just kind of a drain on their resources. And it created, I think, a really ugly atmosphere. And it showed.
I have got to tell you, it was painful to watch, and we can't have that happen again. We just can't tolerate that. I honestly believe that the Army and the Guard cannot live without each other. The Guard really depends on the Army for the innovation, the new weapon systems, the new doctrine, leadership development, the whole kind of infrastructure that goes and makes combat a reality and a capability in this country.
By the same measure, the Army needs the Guard, because the Army doesn't touch America, the Guard touches America. You went down, during Desert Storm, when the Army was sent off on the 7th of August, to go to Desert Storm. America didn't go to war on the 7th of August. The Army did, but America didn't. America went to war when all those moms and dads, kids, down on the courthouse lawn, saying good-bye to their Guardsmen, putting little yellow ribbons on the trees went to war.
We know that. We cannot live with a fight in this family. Period. We've got to find a way to get around that. And it has got to be genuine and it has got to be sincere. Now, I remember the day that the Secretary said, and he called in General Reimer, and he said "I want you to fix this." Actually, it was really Rudy de Leon that came to him the day before and said, "Mr. Secretary, you have got to do something about this." Then he called in General Reimer and he said to General Reimer, "I'm not talking about a charm offensive. I'm talking about a real fix. A real fix is going to last, that's genuine and sincere and has roots. Okay?"
So we set about trying to create some fundamental changes this year. We did a lot of different things. The Secretary's letter outlined the four principles as a starting point for everybody. He directed, and we followed through. We brought the Guard leadership and the Reserve component leadership into the budgeting process, at least at the OSD level, like we never had before. We asked General Baca and General Navas and General Davis to sit with us at the DRVs. And to sit with us at the MBI, the main budget issues session, so we could hear their views. And that's going to be a permanent feature.
The Army went and built its budget, because we told them to, and added two and a half billion dollars over the FYDP for the Guard. This is for equipment for the division redesign. When we had the main budget issues -- that's usually the court of appeals session, when each of the service chiefs come in and make a presentation to the Secretary on things that weren't yet fixed in the budget process -- the first thing on General Reimer's list was he needed another $150 million of OPTEMPO money for the Guard.
Now, I've built five budgets for the Department and this was the first time that an Army Chief of Staff asked for more money for the Guard in an MBI. I mean, he's taking this, I think, very seriously.
The Secretary directed, and he's absolutely right on this, [for us to look at] the Director of Military Support, our peacetime command center, that helps out coordinating activities when there are domestic emergencies. There was, I think, one Guardsman in the whole outfit. But, in reality, when the rubber meets the road, 98 percent of them are going to be Guardsmen or Reservists. So he said, "I want to have a general officer as the Deputy Director down there. I want half of the people in DOMS to be Guardsmen and Reservists. You have got to start making this genuine and real. We added $250 million to the budget this year for the emergency response program that the Secretary told us to develop -- I am going to talk about that in a few minutes -- involving protection against weapons of mass destruction.
And, as you know, the Secretary said "Enough of these two- colored card systems. That makes, for all practical purposes, an anointed class and an outcast. We're going to have one color card for our IDs."
So this is a genuine, sincere effort on our part to start. It isn't the end. We have got a long ways to go. We've got an awful long ways to go. But I think we're starting on the right path. The Secretary is not going to let you guys kill each other. America can't take that. We do not have a future for either the Army or the Guard if we end up with everybody getting killed in the process. So we're going to have to make this work. And we're going to make it work as genuine partners. Not one better than the other, but as equals. Equals in the process of defending America. Defending America where it needs it most. That's at home.
I want to talk a minute about a very important program that the Secretary started. That was putting a general officer down in DOMS. It's Roger Schultz, absolutely terrific, from Iowa. And that general, frankly, is doing more to save the Guard in the future than anybody else in this room.
I don't want to offend anybody when I say that, but I'll tell you why I think that's the case. He was given the mission not only to complement and outfit the DOMS and bring a Reserve component presence into DOMS, but he was asked to head up the effort to design this new program for rapid response when we have a terrorist incident that involves chemical or biological weapons. You probably have seen the Secretary talk about this in the last couple of months. A five-pound bag, the size of a five-pound sugar bag, five-pound bag of anthrax, properly dispersed in this town, would kill half of the people in this city.
We think Saddam Hussein has got about 2,000 of those five-pound bags. And he isn't the only guy in the world that knows how to make this stuff. You know, anybody that can brew Sam Adams beer can brew anthrax. We saw what happened with that fruitcake outfit over in Tokyo, that put the sarin in the subway system. I mean, we have got a lot of nuts in this world. And it is not that far off. That was a wake-up call for everybody in America, frankly. It was a wake-up call for us. We all riveted on that right quick and said what are we going to do about this? Well, you have to have a comprehensive solution to a problem like this. You have got to redirect your intelligence capability so that you have a better way of looking out and finding who these bad guys are. You have to have a capability to go out and do something about it proactively, where you can. We have to, and I'm sorry to say it, we do have to inoculate our troops. At least if you have an antidote for something like anthrax you give it to them. And we have to have, in this country, a capability to respond if something does happen.
Now, I have not talked to a major leader in the Congress who has not, sometime in that conversation, said the only thing that makes sense is to have the Guard do that, they are all over. And I am telling you all, this is the defense mission of the next century -- homeland defense, fair and simple. It will take several different forms. Protection against terrorist attacks using chemical or biological weapons. Protection against attacks, cyber attacks, from people using computers to bring down air traffic control systems or utility systems or whatever. And homeland defense against world errant nations using a ballistic missile or two. So homeland defense is the mission of the next century. And the Secretary believes, I certainly believe, that this is, could not be more important for the Guard to embrace as a mission.
Roger Schultz is designing exactly that program right now. And it is perfect. Well, along with these chaps, you know, it is not just him. But it is a terrific start. And it is not the end, by any means, but it is a start. We put in a quarter of a billion dollars for FYDP to do this.
There is not a more important mission. When we all step back, God, I hope it never happens. But if it does happen, and we step back, then you're able to put people on the scene who can do something about it. They're going to say, well, who were those smart people that thought ahead? And thought about that problem? And gave us a capability to deal with it? It is the General Bacas and the General Navas', and the General Davises, the General Harrisons of the world that are thinking about that, and are getting us ready for that. I hope it never happens. I hope our capabilities to deal with it mean that we will never confront it. But I'm not going to bet on that. None of us can.
The Guard, as probably never before, comes, again, to the forefront in defending America. Not by itself, but as the leading partner in the most important agenda I think we have. That we can prepare for now. We need your help on that.
Now, I know that there were some members of the Guard community who thought that this was a diversionary effort. You know, take your eye off the prize, which is holding onto eight divisions. Well, it is not. I agree with Bob Bell, let's set the division issue aside. Let's think about what are the missions and the challenges that we've got in the next century. I personally believe that Americans are going to say what the heck are we doing with eight divisions that cannot deploy overseas, if they cannot defend America? This is a central issue we have all got to come to grips with. And every one of you, please, you have got to get involved in this thing and you have to look into it. And it is these leaders that are sitting here in front of you, that are working on this on a daily basis.
Roger Schultz understands this. He has put together a great program. Have you had a chance to see his presentation? You all need to be aware, this is going to be our future. We have got to be working on this together. I need you to embrace it. I hope our preparations prevent it from ever happening, but we have got to get ready for that.
Let me conclude, and I really do want this -- I hope it is stimulating a discussion. I know that when Bob was here, he talked to you the other day, he energized you with the idea that we ought to have a new process. I am willing to be a partner in this reconciliation. We have got to have a reconciliation. American cannot afford to have this feud go on.
We're at a fork in the road. For the one road, God only knows where it goes if we keep this fight going. The other road, it is going to be bumpy. It is going to have rocks in it. I know that. We are all going to have to work and get out of the truck and roll a few rocks out of the way every now and then. But the other road is the one we have got to take. We are just going to have to do that. And I'm willing to be a partner. I'm willing to sit in the back of that truck with you and get out and roll a log off the road or a stone out of the way. We are going to have to do this. The Secretary wants us to make this work. We have to. We have to make it work because America needs this thing to work.
This country is 220 years old, give or take. The Guard is 361 years old. You have adapted countless times to changing circumstances. And we are in the middle of that right now. These are changing and evolving circumstances. America cannot live without its Guard. Period. And I would argue the Guard really needs the Army as its active partner. Pure and simple. We're going to make this thing work as we think about this very challenging future. It is going to depend on leaders who have imagination and creativity, daring, and a willingness to cooperate. And, frankly, you are those leaders and America is counting on you.
Thank you very much.
GENERAL BACA: Sir, we have time for some questions, if you would -- you said to start with that you would be willing to field some questions. So are there any questions from the audience, please?
Q: Mr. Secretary, it was a proud day for General Stump and I when the three presidents of the Baltic states were in your presence and such great remarks that you gave and I appreciate that very much as one that's been in this program for five years. That's our State Partnership for Peace program.
It's doing a lot of good in those former Soviet republics, but I think that program on the military-to-military side is maturing to the point that maybe, for the good of peace in that section of the world, we might need to expand that. And through your good offices and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. I know General Baca, we've talked about this issue. We need now, I think, to move on into the economic and the medical and the education. So if this Secretary of State, along with DoD and the Secretary of Commerce and other agencies get behind this, I just think it'll save World War III. I feel that strongly about it. And our state governors are supporting that. But Governor Glendening doesn't have a foreign policy. The President of the United States does. So I just think there's a lot of goodness in that program. That's my first -- and that was a comment.
My question is, and I agree with everything you've said. You're right on target. But I must say the parity between the active and the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, when we see the funding requirements being met in the active Army by 78 percent, the Army Reserve by 79 and we're about 69 percent. Which happens to equate to that $634 million that we're short.
There's five of us sitting here that have a division amongst our states. And there's eight divisions among 26 states. And we're at the bottom of the food chain. And when I get back to my governor, and my troops, and try to explain to them that there is no school money for us, there's no school quotas; we don't have enough diesel fuel to get to AT, thirteen percent OPTEMPO, and, of course, with a tiered readiness. Our POM, for instance, the active, is $5 a square foot for facilities, unneeded requirements. And ours is $2. There's a lot of -- a lot needs to be done in that regard, and we've been patient since the Secretary sent out the letter on 4 September. We've had several meetings with the Chief of Staff of the Army. Very collegial, very professional, but a lot more has to happen. We are dying out there.
DR. HAMRE: Sir, first of all, General, let me comment, first, on your introductory observation, and I hope -- I wish that CNN or C-SPAN could have broadcast what you just said. Because I think most Americans would be shocked to hear a general officer talking with that level of sophistication about what really you need to do for peace. Most of them think all we're out for here in the Department of Defense is more weapons and more stuff for us. And you know that what we really need to do is help get those economies going in those countries. And that's a very sophisticated thing. And I wish more Americans could see that in our officers, in our general officers, because I see that every day. And it's very impressive and I thank you for that. I really do.
And I think we do need to do something in that regard. We have a little bit of a problem because it's a State Department responsibility to provide that kind of assistance. But, frankly, I think it's a Defense issue and I'm willing to help. And we should be resourcing that.
Now on to the real substance of your point. And I understand very well what you're saying. You have to fix serious budget problems as early in the process as you can. You can't wait until October or November in a budget year to fix a problem this big because the problem is built in budgets in detail, much earlier.
Right now, the Army is working with you all to build a budget for the year 2000. You have to start now looking out way into the future. And that's part of the dialogue we're having with the Army. They have got to be embracing all of the total Army's needs, now, as they're building a budget into the future. You can't... we made changes and there were significant dollar adjustments.
But adding a hundred and fifty million for OPTEMPO was a drop in the bucket. You know, at the last minute. That's all we had. And the only way we got that was because we had this inflation dividend. So we've got to fix it earlier. And that's why there has to be this much earlier, ongoing, steady state process where Guard needs, requirements, are being brought and integrated completely and early in the process with the Army. And I'm willing to be a partner on that, try to help get that done. I can't fix it any other way.
Q: I think you have to be, sir, I really do.
DR. HAMRE: I will.
GENERAL ALEXANDER: Dr. Hamre.
DR. HAMRE: Yes, sir, General Alexander?
GENERAL ALEXANDER: Dick Alexander. I think the platform -- first of all, I want to say that since the Secretary of Defense has become engaged in this fight that existed between the Guard and the active component, we have come a long way. We have positive success stories to tell. And we have to keep this momentum going. And we continually get signals that this momentum is going to continue.
I think it would be helpful if we could bring some structure to the engagement of all of us. And I see the goodness that is in the NDP report that talks about a series of missions for the Guard, to include combat, by the way, and the weapons of mass destruction and national missile defense. These are a mission for the Guard, not the mission for the Guard.
DR. HAMRE: Right.
MR. ALEXANDER: Because I will be honest with you, the heart and soul of our initiative is to ensure that this Guard is capable of participating in combat with the Army and not putting at risk the national military strategy. Again, as you know, what is missing is the forum for which to do that. And as we move to -- move the total Army forward, the initiatives with weapons of mass destruction is on the right track and is moving.
But we have to have a forum that will address the entire spectrum of missions that the Guard can meet. And let the position that we bring to the table stand the light of day. If our position is less than credible, less than practical, less than doable, then we have no right to demand that mission. But the Guard should have every mission it is capable of performing. It should have no mission it is not capable of performing.
And I will tell you, in all honesty, historically, that has been done by, quote, professional opinion. It has not been subject to reasonable debate by intelligent people with good ideas. We have to have the ability to put these ideas on the table and interact with the leadership of the active component as professionals. And then let the chips fall where they may.
It is not a money issue. It is a roles and missions issue. It is relevancy which drives dollars. And the very moment we can take to the Congress all three components, like the Air Force does with their F-22, this is what the Army needs. And we're in a position to look down the road and decide that, Guard, this is your niche. Active Reserve, this is your niche, active, this is your niche, and we all agree, we've got a total Army and we can move ahead with a TOA for the Army.
DR. HAMRE: I strongly agree with everything you said. I've got lots of mistakes in my past, but I'm not loath to admit them. I think one of the mistakes that we made early on was just simply defaulting and letting the Army say, we'll take care of these issues in an off-site process, between us and the Guard. And, frankly, I've got to tell you, it's always a lot easier for the Secretary of Defense to say, somebody else will fix this problem, I don't have to worry about it. And so you really do like it when people tell you that.
But I don't think it fixed the problem. And I think this last off-site added to the problem. It added a lot of rough burrs under the saddle. A lot of it was probably just as much style and attitude as it was about content. I mean, you're brought into a group, but, you know, kind of every step along the way it's like you have to earn your way into that role. And that isn't right. So we've got to change. That process is bankrupt. It doesn't work.
Now, I'm personally of a view that you -- what you outlined, that establishing requirements and mission, valid missions, and putting resources on the table, that is the routine process of developing programs and budgets off of national strategy. And that means bringing the Guard, along with the Reserve, the Army Reserve, into the normal process of building programs.
It's like there is a hot water circuit and a cold water circuit in the Pentagon. The hot water circuit revolves around money -- money and programming. If you're not in that circuit, part of that process, you're off in a cold water circuit. I think you need to be brought into the hot water circuit as we're building programs.
Now, that means sitting down early. Because of the bad blood right now that exists between the Guard and, as you say, the active component, we're going to have to sit and work with you on that. We'll have to come in early to the process. We, OSD, are going to have to sit down earlier and make sure that process is professional and robust and honest earlier in the process. I think that -- now that's how I view it. But I'm open to other suggestions if there are other ways we could get at this.
Q: Sir, let me piggy-back, if I can, because I think that what Richard said is exactly right. The issue here is goals and missions. But we have got into a vicious circle and until we break that vicious circle then we cannot do the other things. I mean, we need to be in both the circles, the hot water and the cold water. We have to participate in the ARB and all of that.
But the fundamental issue that has grown between the Army and the Army National Guard, I would say, at least after the cold war, is that we haven't gotten agreement on our roles and missions. Which then, what we try to do, we saw that on the funding issue and whenever we start looking at more funding for the Guard, then that threatens each of the roles and missions. Then it becomes a vicious circle. I mean do we get under-resourced because we're not needed, or do we get under-resourced because we don't want to threaten other roles and missions here.
So I think that until we can set aside, by a process, where like you said, we can sit as equals and say, okay, this is the niche for the Guard, this is the niche for the Army, and this is what we agree that we're going to do for the foreseeable future, then I think that when we don't threaten each other, we could go together and fight for the resources together. But as long as when one of us gets resourced better, puts in jeopardy the other, and that feeds into this, who has what role, I think that that's the circle that we need to break.
GEN ANDREOTTI: Mr. Secretary, Gene Andreotti, TAG, Minnesota. I think one of the things, being in the blue suit side, we do get along with the Air Force quite well. But I think there's something we need to do. We have a bunch of iron-ass majors that make different plans. What missions they're going to be doing and force structure. They do not know anything about the National Guard and their capabilities, and by the time they come up with these plans, then colonels buy into them and then generals buy into them and then it's too far to back down.
I think these planning cells and force structure cells should have Guard representation. But, more than that, we have a Goldwater-Nichols bill which says you're supposed to be Joint. Yet I talked to Ed Burba, the former FORSCOM commander. He spent 35 years in the Army; I said "You weren't in the Army." He said, "What do you mean?" Well, I said "53 percent of your combat forces are in the Guard and Reserve, have you ever served with us?" Not one day. Bill Owens is the same thing.
If maybe we're going to be coming up to be a general officer, to amend the Goldwater-Nichols bill and say you should serve in your own Reserve component, at least you can make some common sense out of it. The Air Force did this in the '70s. They put some leading majors and lieutenant colonels to work with the -- they were called senior air advisors. We get people from the active duty Army on their last leg. They said, boy, I wish 20 years ago I could have learned about the Guard.
Give us some majors, give us some lieutenant colonels that are going to be around here for a while so they can go back on active duty, like this Title XI we're working on, so we have an equal footing there because the lack of knowledge is also a lack of culture. And then you have your misunderstandings.
To build, also, on the second point, with General Fretterd, we had a successful program. We do have a successful program down in Southern Command. Nation- building, building schools, and building clinics. I talked with General Reimer and General Shelton about this. I think we could do that in the Baltic states.
We had the Croatian military visiting Minnesota last week. The head of their personnel. I said "What would it be, if you took it back to your country," and said "What if we send engineers over there, in the Serb-controlled territories, maybe build some schools, maybe do some medical clinics. Rather than going over there with rifles on their shoulders, let's send hammers and saws and let's help build their infrastructure. But let's show them what the proper military can do with their civilian society."
I guess I said enough. I want to thank you very much for your candor, but there's a lot of good ideas out there. I think Admiral Owens, when I spoke with him, he said he spent the first 20 years in the Navy, never knew about the Army and Air Force. Then he spent 30 years and became the number two person in the military, finally found out about the Reserve components. That's a little late in life for those things to happen.
DR. HAMRE: These are very interesting ideas, we'll follow up on them. I appreciate your bringing it up.
I hope I haven't offended anybody. Have I offended you? I'm sorry, but this is so important for us to try to get our hands around. And I really, I am genuinely asking for help as we work with you in trying to get this sorted out. But I'm not trying to set up Mike -- you're going to beat the bejesus out of Mike in a few minutes, so you can do all that. But, you know, in Mike's behalf, let me tell you, you've got funding shortfalls, and they're bad. They're terrible. Mike's got terrible funding shortfalls, too. I mean we're all -- and these are problems money can't fix. We just don't have enough money. So we've got to find a way that honestly brings all that together early enough in the process so that we can do something about it. And I like the idea about getting lower-level integrations. We can be working closer together. Very interesting, and we have to follow up on it.
GENERAL HARRISON: Mr. Secretary, Ron Harrison. There are a couple of things that I think, as we get back and talk about the process, whatever that forum is, and I'm really encouraged that we will have a forum that you would be involved in. I think that as we have gone through, particularly since May and the Oklahoma City announcement and so forth. And it has come more clear to me that the uniqueness of the Guard probably is a threat more than it should be because people don't understand it.
Many times what we don't know, we fear. And I think that it has come clear to me, in my position here over the last several months, that the uniqueness we have where we serve, not directly for the Chief of Staff of the Army in every situation, but that we do have an intermediary that we go through because of our constitutional and statutory requirements of the governor as the commander in chief. And many of those are engaged, as you know, and really interested in what happens to their Guard.
I think that the uniqueness of us and understanding the Guard needs to be a part of that process. Now, I don't know what that is. I haven't figured that out yet. We had General Trefry here a few minutes ago talking about encouraging us and certainly we all agree that we need to do this to go to how the Army runs the course. There needs to be some mechanism that says how does the Guard run.
And it has to, again, it has to be -- I'm not saying something in school necessarily, but something that we, particularly as we get in the process, the people that are in that will know us better when they understand our unique problems in getting things done as well as we need to understand the Army. So we all have some uniqueness', but they can be complementary, rather than the other way.
The other part is that in the Secretary of Defense's letter of September 4th, which we really cling to because what he said meant an awful lot to us, I think the recognition that we, in this room, as the representatives of our commanders in chief, if we put it on that basis, plus the people that are here certainly representing us from National Guard Bureau, need to be recognized, and know that we are, as the senior leaders of the total force. That's very important to us because that happens to be the way we're structured; whether we like it or don't like it, I mean, that's not the issue. The issue is that we are senior leaders of the total force, therefore, need to be involved. And the words, I'm sure, were not loosely given by the Secretary of Defense. Involvement of the senior leaders of the total force, therefore, in our case, the total Army. So I would really place those two in high regard as we go into this process, because you mentioned we go in genuine partners, equal footing, and I think that that's a starting point for us. And if we feel that, then -- and I know culturally it takes time to do some things. But that would be very important. So, a comment, sir.
DR. HAMRE: Thank you, General Harrison. Again, I take everything you say and I'd like to follow up on it in a positive way. I do want to make one observation. One of things you said is one of the easy excuses people use to ignore the Guard. And that is they've got these governors, these governors are going to ask for stuff, Congress is going to give them stuff so we don't have to do it. You know, don't put our money at risk because we're just going to get it from the Hill. That's a very corrosive mind-set. And I've seen it. I saw it when I was up on the Hill. I mean, it was time and time and time again, I always felt that the Army didn't buy things for the Guard because they knew that lobbyists -- my very dear friend, Don, is here; he was telling me all the time that he's going to be getting things added. Hence, the Army said I'm not going to throw my TOA away. You know? It's really a bad cultural problem we've got to get over. We're really going to have work on it.
GENERAL HARRISON: It is, sir. And I think that if we had a choice, and I certainly can't speak for this group, but if we had a choice, I would bet that the majority of this group would say we would much prefer to go to Congress and use our political clout, whatever that is and what it means to different people, together, as a total three-component Army, than singly. And if we don't, then we are, I think, obligated by charter to be our own advocate. If we have advocacy from the Army, so be it, then we all go together. But I think we don't have a choice -- I don't, in my job, --to be an advocate for the National Guard. That's what's expected of me. So I think that's -- I think there's something in there that we can really get into if we just educate --
DR. HAMRE: I totally agree.
GENERAL HARRISON: Thank you, sir.
Q: Sir, just one thing here. Last September, the Secretary of Defense put out a letter that I think really is the most clear and unambiguous statement in support of the total force policy that I've seen since its inception.
And it articulates four points there and I think it sums everything that we're talking about here today when they say that clear responsibility for the total force by all of its senior leaders, a clear and mutual understanding of the mission of each of the units. We talk about the roles and missions, commitment to provide resources to accomplish the mission and then, of course, leadership by commanders to ensure the readiness.
If we can do that, and we can really put everybody's feet to the fire, all of the senior leaders, and to include the Adjutants Generals as seniors leaders of the total force, if we can put everybody's foot to the fire on this, I think we can resolve these issues, sir.
DR. HAMRE: That spoke for itself. Thank you, General.
GENERAL RICHARDSON: General Richardson, from the -- from Hawaii. One of the problems that I feel is very evident, is that the playing field is not level. We do not have representation on the major command staffs. The Army Reserve does. The Army Reserve is well represented with the MAJCOMs, and also the FEMA. The Navy Reserve is. The Marine Reserves are and the Coast Guard Reserves are. We do not have Guard members on major command staffs and so we're not able to be involved with the planning of the missions that go to the different Reserve organizations. I really feel that something needs to be done to fix that problem so that we do have representation with the major commands.
The other problem I want to bring up is that our MILCON budget is extremely small. I think it's $48 million a year. And I don't see how we can improve our armories or get our facilities to operate properly with such a small budget.
DR. HAMRE: The first idea is new to me and I need to know more about it, but I'd sure like to follow up on it, it's an interesting thought. And I'll work with Rudy and others to do that.
On the MILCON budget, I think it's, again, another phenomena of just bad behavior that we've fallen into up on the Hill. Frankly, the actives do it, too. I mean it's -- we have evolved a kind of an unfortunate practice. I teasingly say, you know, I'm a Lutheran, and we really have a great philosophy. I like to sin, and God likes to forgive. You know, it really works out real good.
And so the way that we do with building budgets is we like to come in with lots of shortfalls and Congress, for parochial reasons, so they can advertise they just bought an armory for back home, loves to add them. We've gotten into that bad habit. I think it's a terrible habit. I think it's very corrosive, but I think we need to be buying what we need.
I think it's embarrassing for us to put a budget together and then go up to the Hill and say, but I need the following things. We ought to try to make it work and argue our case inside the administration if we need more money. And we've done that for the last four years. This year, it's a zero-sum game and then we've got this balanced budget agreement thing and it has totally changed the dynamic. Ever more why we need to be bringing requirements in early and up front. Rather than just fall into this old pattern of saying, well, we like to kind of cheat and sin and Congress likes to give us money and forgive us. So I strongly agree, we need to work on that. Tried to do that a little bit this year, but it's pretty pathetic. Have I worn out my welcome?
Let me just wrap up by saying I really am grateful that you'd invite me to come to have a chance to talk with you. More than anything, to give voice to what I personally believe is the Secretary's strongest sentiments, that we have got to make this relationship strong and healthy for the future. Not just for his tenure, not just for the Department of Defense, but for this country. We absolutely have to get this thing working. I'm committed to working with you all and doing that. I'm very grateful to have a chance to talk with you. Thank you.