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Perry Highlights Year's Top 10 World Changes

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 1995 – I never imagined I would cut off the ear of a [roast] pig in Kazahkstan, hear an Uzbeki colonel sing like Frank Sinatra or eat rendered Manchurian toad fat in China, said William J. Perry.

During a yearend interview, the 19th secretary of defense reflected on his travels, accomplishments and the world's changing security environment.

Having spent his life as a Cold War warrior, Perry said, he never dreamed he would witness the events that have occurred since the end of the Cold War. He presented his Top 10 List of recent experiences reflecting this new, rapidly changing world.

Starting with No. 10 and working up to the most significant, Perry said these 10 things truly demonstrate how much the world, DoD and job of the secretary of defense have changed. Perry said he never expected to see:

No. 10 America Forming Security Ties With Former Soviet States

The travel itinerary for the U.S. defense secretary has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War, according to Perry. He said his exotic culinary adventures in Kazahkstan and China are examples.

Previously, he said, U.S. defense secretaries visited such traditional, Western allies as Great Britain, France and Germany. Perry has traveled to South America, the Middle East, the Far East and to countries that formerly made up the Soviet Union newly independent nations such as Estonia, Albania, Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic.

In this new world we have the opportunity and the challenge to form security relations with countries in a state of transition, countries emerging from a communist, authoritarian regime, wanting to become democracies, ... trying to form security relations with the West, Perry said. I have spent a lot of my time in the last year meeting with the defense ministers and prime ministers of these countries trying to move that process along in a way which I thought would be beneficial to American security.

No. 9 Western Hemisphere Defense Leaders Uniting

In July, Perry hosted defense leaders of 33 Western hemisphere democratic nations at a security conference in Williamsburg, Va.

A few years ago, I never would have imagined there would be 33 democracies in the Western hemisphere, Perry said, or that they would be willing to meet with me in the United States and talk about mutual security problems.

As recently as a few months before the meeting, he said, many sophisticated observers of Latin America were telling him the meeting would be a flop, that the suspicion and concern about Yankee imperialism among the South and Central American leaders was too great.

Quite the contrary was true, Perry said. It was a resounding success. It indicated how much things have changed. It was an opportunity to work together to promote our mutual security.

No. 8 Military Specifications for Fruitcakes Eliminated

I never really imagined we would eliminate the 100 or 300 or 500 pages of specs for fruitcakes and belt buckles and joint attack missiles, Perry said. I've always seen the challenge out there of acquisition reform, but it wasn't ever clear we were going to be able to turn that around.

In the past year, the defense acquisition system was turned on its head by requiring program managers to get a waiver to use a military specification rather than commercial specifications, Perry said. This change initially affected only new programs, but last month he extended it to programs already under way.

This will result in savings of a few hundred million dollars a year and will give DoD faster access to technology, Perry said.

 No. 7 Day Care as a Prerequisite for Readiness

As the defense leader of the most powerful military in the world, Perry said, he never dreamed he'd have to worry about day care. But, he said, he realized early in his tenure to achieve readiness he also had to pay attention to quality of life. Perry said he s taken action providing better housing and adequate day care.

We have a whole set of quality of life initiatives under way right now which even have money applied to them not just rhetoric, but real money.

No. 6 Soviet Officers Attending Classes on Democracy

Perry said he never thought a secretary of defense would manage a school to teach former Soviet military officers about democracy, budgeting and how to testify to a parliament. But, he said, that s what the Marshall Center in Germany is all about.

This is a remarkably successful effort in bringing in the military in these former communist countries and teaching them how the military should operate in a democracy, he said. Of all the things we're doing, this is probably going to have the longestterm positive benefit on the security of this country.

No. 5 Former Warsaw Pact Troops Training in America

Last summer, troops from Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and eight other former Warsaw Pact nations trained with U.S. counterparts at Ft. Polk, La. They participated under Partnership for Peace, a program Perry calls the most successful European security program since the Marshall Plan.

Whereas the Marshall Plan rebuilt economies and integrated the economies of Western Europe, Partnership for Peace is integrating security systems between Western and Eastern Europe, he said. It has succeeded beyond anyone s expectations.

No. 4 Russian Troops Training in America's Heartland

I never imagined I would be in Kansas watching U.S. and Russian troops train together, Perry said. But there they were last October training for a joint peacekeeping operation. Perry and Russian Federation Defense Minister Gen. Pavel S. Grachev talked with the troops.

It was inspirational to me, Perry said, to see him telling his Russian troops that they ought to work hard to make the most out of this meeting, make the relationship with the Americans work because their children and their grandchildren would benefit from it.

No. 3 A Russian General Destroying a U.S. Missile Silo

In October, Perry helped Grachev blow up a Minuteman II missile silo in Missouri. He said he couldn't foresee helping the Ukrainians convert a missile field back into a wheat field or helping the Russians chop up nuclear bombers, but he did early in the year.

Perry said next month he will travel to Pervomaysk, Ukraine, to blow up a Soviet missile silo. They re going to get a detonator with three buttons on it, he said, and the Russian minister, the Ukrainian minister and the American minister are all going to press the button to detonate the SS19 silo.

No. 2 Dayton, Ohio, Would Mean Peace in Bosnia

I never imagined Dayton, Ohio, would become synonymous with peace in the Balkans, Perry said. Frankly, I wasn t sure the warring parties in Bosnia would ever be able to reach a peace agreement, but even in my most frenzied imagination, I would not have imagined that taking place in Dayton.

DoD now will deal with the difficulties of implementing the peace agreement, Perry said. He said whatever risks are involved with Operation Joint Endeavor, they are less than the risks involved in allowing the war to continue.

No. 1 Russian Troops Serving Under a U.S. Commander

Perry said it took four sometimes longintothenight meetings with Grachev to reach an agreement for Russian troops to serve as part of NATO s peace implementation force in Bosnia.

The No. 1 thing that I never imagined is that the Russians would agree to put one of their brigades in an American division under the command of an American general, working together to bring about peace in Bosnia, Perry said.

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