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The Center for Naval Analysis, Forum on National Strategies & Capabilities
Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy De Leon, Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, Virginia, Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Good morning and thank you very much for the introduction. Let me also acknowledge [former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe] General Wes Clark. I’m going to be talking about [the] Goldwater-Nichols [Act of 1986] and the role that the CINCs [Commanders in Chief of Unified Combatant Commands] play. But here is a CINC who had revolutions in his jurisdiction in these recent years. Along with Secretary [William] Cohen and the Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton], he was also a vigorous advocate for our military men and women, including their pay raise and improvements in medical care. So, General Clark, I just want to acknowledge you this morning as well.

"The margin is thin, but the responsibility is clear." Those were the words of [journalist] Theodore White in 1960, describing a post-election interview with John F. Kennedy. A hundred thousand votes. "The margin is thin, but the responsibility is clear." Now, as Secretary Cohen has said, we’re in the middle of a unique constitutional process right now, one that will work its way through. It is prescribed, we have done it many times. And so, yes, indeed, we are anxious to start a transition from the Clinton administration to the succeeding administration, but we’re in this unique period. Eventually, there will be a man elected President of the United States and, as in 1960, the margin may be thin, but the responsibility will be very clear in terms of leading the country.

Now, QDR [the Quadrennial Defense Review] is one issue that is regularly discussed in the Pentagon and clearly will be the first significant piece of the new administration in terms of defense policy. But look[ing] back very briefly, [we see that] the 1990s was a period of revolution in the world and revolution in America.

First, [there was] the revolution in global affairs, which involved the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the benefits of the Cold War’s end came the new burdens of being the world’s sole superpower and the OP TEMPO [operational tempo] issues of having fewer military personnel facing more missions. That indeed was an irony—the Cold War created more predictability in military life than the post-Cold War period.

Second, [there was] the revolution in technology. Here, the same digital leaps that are placing enormous power in the hands of our citizens and the consumer are also placing enormous and potentially catastrophic power in the hands of those who wish us harm. Coming to grips with the Information Age and what that means in a national security context has been, I think, one of the revolutions of this decade, and it clearly will be a QDR issue.

I think one model that the other services may want to examine in this area of information technologies, and all of the changes coming out of that, is the model of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. Here, a service has taken hold of its responsibilities to address how it is going to use this powerful tool. They are laying out strategies and focusing not only on questions such as how are they going to create these systems, how are they going to use them, how are they going to incorporate them in their everyday activity. With the rise of information technologies and computers, there also will be the need to defend the computers and to defend information. And it will be as critical as any SIGINT [signals intelligence] capabilities we have today.

So the first revolution of the ‘90s was in global affairs, the second revolution was in technology, which has really brought the power of information systems into the Pentagon. The third revolution has been the revolution in demographics. In the 1980s, there were 5 million more 18-to-22-year-olds than there are in the current cohort group, those born between 1965 and 1979, the so-called Generation X. It is a small population. So when you take the reduced demographics of this generation and you add to that the demand for the same highly capable young people that the economy is looking for or that colleges are recruiting, you reduce the pool of candidates for recruiting into the armed forces. So we had to rethink how we recruit and how we retain with increased competition from the economy.

Fourth and finally, we had the revolution in our domestic financial affairs. The deficits of the ‘80s are now surpluses. As the staff director of the Armed Services Committee—[where I was involved in] starting and contemplating strategies for mark-ups in the late ‘80s—the deficit was a major issue. In fact, from a budgetary point of view, the Reagan build-up in defense started to decline, not with the fall and changes in the Soviet Union, but rather with the fundamental changes in the defense budgets of the mid-80s. Pressure from the deficit, manifested in the Gramm-Rudman Act that started to force Congress to look at [spending] caps—domestic, discretionary, defense spending, entitlements—for the first time. And those deficits that were such a factor in the defense budgets of the late 1980s and early 1990s are something that we are not dealing with now. In fact, for Secretary Cohen, President Clinton, my predecessor, Dr. John Hamre, myself, Bill Lynn [Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller], this was part of putting together the budget plus-ups two years ago that went to military pay, to readiness, and to procurement. So the deficits of the 1980s have become the surpluses of the late ‘90s, and with that comes [not only] the opportunity for increased investment in defense spending but also responsibilities.

In the last two years, Secretary Cohen and the administration, working with General Shelton, the Joint Chiefs, [and Congress] have been able to increase the defense top line, through its FYDPs [Future Years Defense Programs], by $180 billion. Now of the $180 billion, $20 billion were plus-ups that came from Congress, but indeed this has been a significant increase in new capital coming into the top line.

If you take this $180 billion baseline and you add to it the $50 billion to $100 billion that the two presidential candidates have talked about, we’re looking at a quarter of a trillion dollars in new investment in defense. So I think as the QDR takes center stage when the new administration comes to power, [we should be mindful that ] there are new financial resources on the table.

Now, we’ve made some clear statements in terms of pay and quality of life being a high priority. But equally important will be the modernization of our forces. And to have the maximum number of dollars that can go to those priorities—quality of life and modernization of forces—will require that the new administration continue to build upon the Defense Reform Initiative of Secretary Cohen and Dr. Hamre. It will mean that we will have to face up to tough decisions like having another BRAC [Base Realignment and Closures] because dollars that go into infrastructure are dollars that don’t go into modernization or into quality of life for military people.

So if the 90s was a decade of great revolutions throughout the world, and throughout the business community with respect to our budget and information technologies, this next decade is going to be a period of transformation—the transformation of our military forces.

Now, I have a few recommendations that I would offer to my successors. First, the next president and leaders of both parties are going to need to find ways to reach common ground. I think the fact that President Clinton, a Democrat, would reach across the aisle to Bill Cohen, then a Republican senator from Maine, helped create a bipartisan dialogue on defense. It manifested itself in the increased budget resources. But I think it also started a tone that we’ve got to continue, which is that foreign policy has to end at the water’s edge, and that, indeed, our great power as a democracy and as a country will come when we speak with unity and clarity in terms of our foreign policy.

Just as the early days after World War II was a time of bipartisanship, that is a message for the future. The image of Harry Truman working with [Senator] Arthur Vandenberg, or President Clinton working with Bill Cohen, needs to be a model for the next administration, to put bipartisanship into our defense policy.

The second [recommendation] is that one of the critical keys to our success in both foreign policy and defense policy has been Goldwater-Nichols. Our challenge in the next decade is going to be to continue to refine it. I had the chance as a young staffer on the Armed Services Committee to be involved in the presentation and the preparation of Goldwater-Nichols. And at the time there were [several] key objectives. Some have been realized; others are still works-in-progress. One [objective realized is that] the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] is the chief military advisor to the president. And the chairman, as a spokesperson of American foreign policy and interest, has become a dominant person. Admiral [William] Crowe, General [Colin] Powell, General [John] Shalikashvili, and now General Shelton have all taken this tool and have used it and realized what Goldwater-Nichols intended.

The second [piece of Goldwater-Nichols was], the acquisitions [initiatives which were] helped by some leadership very early in the administration from [then-Secretary of Defense] Bill Perry. Indeed, I think the undersecretary for acquisition and his counterparts in the service have really been able to work together in ways that the original Packard Commission envisioned and in ways that the CSIS [Center for Strategic International Studies] study of 1984 and 1985 envisioned. Indeed, I think that this second reform—of an acquisition czar and chains of command to the services that go through both the undersecretary for acquisition as well as service chiefs—has been realized.

The third piece was the JROC, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, and I think progress has been made there, but much, much more work is left to do. From my perspective, the greatest tension point in the next QDR is not going to be between Democrats and Republicans, and it’s not going to be between the Air Force and the Navy, and the Marine Corps and the Army. It’s going to be between CINCs who want capabilities and the service chiefs who want platforms for modernization.

Now, JROC has a critical role in terms of reconciling this, and one of the key issues will be that we can't save up all of the issues every four years for a QDR. Through the JROC, we need to build upon the successes. The CINCs are quite clear in terms of what their critical requirements are for the future—airlift, better intelligence, command-and-control, interoperability—versus the service chiefs, who clearly are looking at modernizing their platforms, whether it's the ship at sea, the Apache helicopter, the next generation of ground combat equipment or tactical aircraft modernization. So this reconciliation between capabilities and platforms is going to be one of the greatest challenges facing the QDR.

The final piece of Goldwater-Nichols is that the CINCs have indeed become the most significant participants in U.S. foreign policy in the regions in which they serve. This was intended, but I think it's [also been] one of the surprises, 15 years later, to see how CINCPAC [Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command] has such a major role to play in the Pacific. CINCEUR [Commander-in-Chief, European Command] is a bridge between NATO—a NATO that has gone through great changes in the '90s—and all of the pressing issues in Europe such as the Partnership for Peace, which [built partnerships with] the Eastern Bloc. CINCSOUTH [Commander-in-Chief, Southern Command] and its role has been effective, both in terms of curtailing the drug traffic, but also as an advocate of democracy in a region that a decade ago was woefully short of democracy. The CINCs have tremendous responsibilities and authorities in terms of the foreign policy. So I think that continuing to refine Goldwater-Nichols is going to be one of our challenges for the next decade.

[Another recommendation is that] we’re going to have to continue the quality of life initiatives for our military men and women. Whether it is missile defense, command and control interoperability, or defenses of our computer systems, we are going to succeed or fail based upon the capabilities of the young men and women that volunteer to serve. They have lots of options and lots of choices, but many of them come and join the armed forces because they want that chance to serve. They want a chance to give something to their country. Whether it is pilots, computer technicians, or network integrators, we’re going to continue to need to make the investment in those who wear the military uniform. And that is going to be a high priority.

The demographics in this new decade are going be changing as well. There will be more young people as we transition from Generation X to Generation Y, Generation Y being the offspring of the baby boomers, born since 1979. It is a much larger group. It is a group that, as they come to dominance, are going to be the first group that will rival the baby boomers, and ultimately they will nudge us all aside. But currently we’re in the middle of this demographic shift, and it is critical that we compensate, and that we take care of, our military men and women and their families.

[My] last [recommendation concerns] defense reform. We’ve got a healthy discussion going on about capabilities versus platforms. We’re on the right track in terms of pay increases and improving housing for our military men and women. We have new dollars that are coming into the Department of Defense top line, the $180 billion, plus the dollars that the two candidates have talked about. But with that we still have to continue the business reform of the Department of Defense. Dr. Hamre, with the Defense Reform Initiative, gave us a road map, but it’s critical that as we work through QDR and the new budget top line that comes into the department, we look for ways to save dollars.

One place to start is infrastructure. Before we can legitimately talk about the size of the force structure and whether that needs to be [increased], everyone would agree that we have too much infrastructure and that dollars that go to infrastructure that is not needed are dollars that don't go to quality of life, dollars that don't go to modernization, dollars that will not contribute directly to the readiness of our military forces.

White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and I recently met with a group of computer industry CEOs. With all of the advantages of the Information Age, we in the Department are still struggling in terms of how we bring this [technology] into the department and incorporate it into our daily business without falling six months to a year behind where the commercial marketplace is. As I said before, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet may be one encouraging way to see how a service is stepping out and stepping forward to use the power of information technologies in this area.

How we bring in the advantages of what the marketplace is producing into a system that has difficulty digesting [those technologies] is going to be a critical piece of continuing defense reform. Because, again, dollars that we don't needlessly spend on infrastructure are dollars that we can more efficiently utilize using the advances in information technologies and into quality of life or the modernization effort. [And when] we met with those computer executives we asked them how many would be willing to come in and do a tour in the Pentagon for two years or four years? We have to [somehow learn from] those people with business capability.

So I’m back to my original comments. The constitutional process will shortly have worked its will, and a president and a new administration will be ready to take responsibility. The margin will be thin, but the responsibility will be very clear. Those brief issues, I hope, will frame the discussions here. I think they are real challenges. But indeed, it’s a new decade with new responsibilities and a new set of issues. And to those who will succeed Secretary Cohen and myself and the Clinton administration, I wish them Godspeed as they go about that work.