Monday, April 24, 2000
(Media Availability with Pentagon correspondents from major newspapers and wire services)
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Welcome everybody, welcome to lunch.
I just wanted to, in many respects I've worked with many of you in my existing capacities as Under Secretary of the Air Force or Under Secretary of Defense, so I wanted to make this as much as social opportunity as a news conference just simply to reintroduce myself in this new capacity and to let you know that [as] in the past I'll try to continue to be available as much as I can, even if it's simply to say I don't have anything on that topic.
But I look forward to this new job. I guess this is, I can't remember if this is my third week that I'm starting here, or my fourth. We at least were able to take Easter off, so that was good.
But I just want to let everyone know that I'm here and want to be responsive to each of you. I have a bit of a track record coming in, most recently from the Personnel and Readiness job, but longer term from years on Capitol Hill as well as years here in the building.
With that, in terms of just the criticality of issues, the House and Senate will start their markups, their authorization bills the month of May. It looks like the appropriators in the Senate will use the military construction appropriations bill. It looks like that will be on a quick markup in terms of the dollars for Kosovo and Colombia. A number of critical issues in the acquisition pot this year including the technical side of missile defense as well as critical industrial base decisions on the Joint Strike Fighter, as well as discussion and debate on exports. So I think it will be a challenging period and an interesting period.
With that, Craig, I don't know if there is much else that I'd want to say, but just to open it up, and I hope everybody enjoys lunch.
Q: Have any decisions been made on the Joint Strike Fighter?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Right now we are looking at, Jack Gansler is working with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps just in terms of what the options are to preserve the industrial base. This is a very large dollar program. It's also a very large buy in terms of the number of aircraft to be procured. My own personal view is that it's very critical to the force structure of both the Marine Corps and the Air Force, so I would say that the industrial base review of Jack Gansler and Dave Oliver is probably four weeks away from bringing options to Secretary Cohen.
Q: Would you say there's any leaning, at least on your part, toward dual production? People argue for and against.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think those options are clearly on the table. You have to look at the phasing of each of the models -- the Navy model as well as the Air Force and Marine Corps in terms of when each service feels they need to procure the JSF. So I'd say, Charlie, I know I haven't formed any opinion in my own mind. I think it's more now working on the options and coming forward with a series of options that can go to the Secretary.
I think between the presentation of the options and right now are discussions that will have to occur with each of the services as well as the interested parties in our industrial base.
Q: Rudy, you said the "winner take all" strategy is going to be abandoned and there will be some combination of leader/follower or a split buy or some permutation?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Tony, both options are still on the table. I feel there are some conditions where you might want to go with the "winner take all", but right now we're just looking at a host of options.
Q: Can you give us a sense of your view of the fighter industrial base, how much danger it's in with respect to "winner take all"?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The fighter industry in many respects is quite healthy with the F-22 coming out of Lockheed and the F/A-18E/F out of Boeing, the old McDonnell Douglas. Also with Lockheed picking up some business in terms of the UAE sale of F-16s and potentially a Greek sale right behind. I think we're looking at the JSF more in terms of the criticality to the warfighting force structure, which is to say that the F-16s appear to have about an 8,000 hour lifespan, but at 6,000 hours you have to start doing some things to enhance sort of a life extension program for it.
So if the Joint Strike Fighter slips I think it's going to create issues for the Air Force in terms of an immediate investment to extend the life of the F-16 versus just simply moving forward with a JSF and putting that into the inventory.
Q: Mr. Secretary if I could, Greg Jaffe, from the Wall Street Journal, and Ann Marie Squeo from the Wall Street Journal.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: How are you?
Q: Oh, no! (Laughter)
Q: I'd like to ask you to bring up the national missile defense issue. I'm curious as to whether there have been any developments recently in rethinking the timetable. Where does that stand?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: General Kadish has announced June 24th, the issue there in terms of the delays and the tests have been to incorporate the lessons learned from the previous test shot and to make sure that the little pipes that cool the sensors are functioning properly before the test. He'll probably be coming in shortly with his final evaluations with respect to this test. But I think the diplomatic schedule right now also parallels the hardware schedule which I think Deputy Secretary Talbott meeting with the Russians in May and then I think there's a June summit that is scheduled between the President and President Putin.
So I think there is time to do the DRR as envisioned. At the same time work is continuing on the MilCon side which is request for proposals in terms of Shemya, and then an interior Alaska site, the late June time period in terms of requests for proposals from contractors.
So I think right now the schedules for the diplomacy and for the hardware and for the military construction are pretty straightforward and we're just executing against the calendar. Obviously it's going to be a very busy time, but I think people are working very hard on this right now.
Q: July is the review period, and then the recommendation of the President?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think the general view is in fact it will take a little bit more than 30 days after the next shot to evaluate all of the data that comes in from the tests, so once that analysis is completed then you could go and do your critical review. So just working against the calendar, if the test is late June, then you're going to need a month to absorb all the data.
Q: Secretary Cohen, his recommendation then, what timeframe would it be? August or September?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Obviously we want to get the test behind us and then incorporate the lessons, and depending upon what the lessons are, then go from there. So I think the schedule's pretty straightforward and the variable is how long it will take to analyze the information that comes in.
Q: Given the election in November, when does Secretary Cohen have to give the recommendation if this President is going to make that determination?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think the summer time, obviously, as I just said, it's going to take 30 days to analyze the test data that comes in, so that's a critical piece. At the same time the diplomatic and the military construction aspects are on their own track. So all of these pieces are in sync with each other and being executed.
Q: Would it be possible that Secretary Cohen would go ahead and recommend deployment if the next step fails?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I don't want to try to read his mind or speculate on that. We're working hard to get the test done against the calendar.
Q: But this requirement for the number of tests...
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Uh huh.
Q: Does that still hold?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think that's our plan, yes.
Q: Has [Senate] approval of the START II and the Russians' approval of the START II made the diplomatic track now much more difficult? Especially if the Kremlin continues to (inaudible) on this? I mean what they've said is all right, we agree to go ahead with START II. They've agreed to do that. Now they say, we don't want to (inaudible). Has this made it more difficult?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I just sort of viewed the ratification of START II as really the beginning of the diplomatic piece in earnest.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Right, in terms of the engagement. I mean the Russian elections were completed. Their president had pledged that he would move START II very quickly. He did. Secretary Talbott is very much engaged with the Russians. So I just view this as part of a process and we're going to see the process unfold really throughout the next three and four months.
Q: Can't we now say that look, I've been cooperative, you aren't being very cooperative going ahead with this thing?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think we ought to let everybody do their work and let the two countries as well as the Europeans have a good discussion, or the good discussion has already started, to just let it continue.
Q: Mr. Secretary, has the Administration made (inaudible) what threshold of agreement that they'll look for in the diplomatic process prior to making the deployment decision? I mean, are you going to look for an agreement that's been initialed, ratified, signed, something short of that?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I guess that's one where I would say I really don't want to get into speculation on that. Again, we're really working, from my perspective, three tracks. The diplomatic piece of which Secretary Talbott is very much engaged; the test piece for which General Kadish and his team is very much engaged, consistent with the schedule I outlined just a few seconds ago. Then obviously the Alaskan piece. And that schedule being driven in part by the unique aspects of how you move construction supplies to Shemya, things like that. But there are schedules for all three of those pieces.
As I say, the next three to four months will be very challenging times, and I really don't want to start speculating because I think there's still a lot of work to be done before we can even give you an informed opinion on that.
Q: I guess the question was whether the administration has made a decision yet as to what the threshold will be on a diplomatic track before a deployment decision can be made?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I don't know.
Q: ...seen a little bit of growing (inaudible) that we all couldn't come up with a (inaudible). And there's (inaudible). The system that's being envisioned now is not robust enough, is not (inaudible). Is that being thought of in the equation, and (inaudible) about that?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: There is a discussion of the sea component. That may be an issue for a later period, depending upon how robust you'd want to make a statement. But I think that the field of 100 interceptors deployed in Alaska is one that is really focused on protecting all 50 states; giving us a capability against the proliferation of ballistic missile technology. It's not designed to be a substitute for deterrence. So I think that in terms of the configuration that is being tested right now, it's really a land-based system. I think the sea-based system is something for discussion in the future.
Q: On the DRR schedule, there was a July test also. Won't that be factored into the whole decision chain? So it's not just the June 24th test.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think that the June 24th test is the next significant test. There's going to be work on the technology that is required for a great time period to come. I've met with Phil Coyle who is the director of Operational Tests and Evaluation in terms of looking at it comprehensively.
So here we are, we've got this great focus on June 24th. That's a very important test. It's also simply a piece in the test program.
If I could just take you back from my perspective, trying to support the secretary and then track the pieces, Tony, I look at this as there's a diplomacy track, there is a hardware track of which the hardware track is going to continue for a substantial period. Then there's obviously the more limited track of military construction and the unique aspects of Shemya and the aspects that go with that.
So the test program itself is going to go on for a lengthy period of time. The short term decisions focus around site preparation, things like that in Alaska to meet the '05 date.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think that's also General Kadish and his shop.
Q: To those of us watching, it seems like it's a foregone conclusion that there will be a deployment decision, and not because of the politics surrounding it or not particularly with anything, but simply the only thing that begins as a result of that is construction and if you don't begin the construction then you obviate the possibility of doing a deployment. So even if now the technology doesn't seem ready it, makes a great deal of sense if you're committed to this idea, hedge your bets with starting construction.
So given that logic, or do you agree with that logic that this is a small decision to make, really, and all it does is open up your alternatives rather than cutting them off five years before you even know if this is really going to work?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: There are some unique windows that open up because of the weather, getting out to Shemya, that are in the short term issues. The longer term issues are the diplomacy and the hardware. But in the short term if you work against a schedule, and you just have to factor in when can you move construction barges out to Shemya, so from that perspective that's just working against the calendar.
Q: But if you don't make that decision then you're tying your hands for a long time.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: If you don't, then you potentially lose a year, right.
Q: Can you give us the latest estimate on (inaudible)
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I don't think the number has deviated from what we've discussed in the past. Let me take another run at it. If there's a change, I'll get it quickly, but I don't think the number itself has changed.
Q: The report says (inaudible).
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think isn't that the federation's cost estimate?
Q: I don't know. Where do they get their numbers then?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I don't know.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think that's our number. I think that's what I think is on the books right now.
Q: During the most recent (inaudible) for acquisition and base closing it was $20.2 billion for acquisition and $30 billion for life cycle.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: If you're asking how much something costs, you need to be more specific in your question. I know that's a cop-out, but you can slice this six ways from Sunday.
Q: Tell me where the (inaudible).
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I can get exact figures. We'll try again.
Q: Do you have any idea when you'll have an answer on the General Kennedy case?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I don't. The DOD/IG is carrying it as an ongoing investigation and he has not briefed us yet.
Q: (Inaudible) Is this a long term (inaudible)?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: That's a good question, Liz. I want to talk to the DOD/IG and find out precisely when he got engaged in terms of the... He may have gotten engaged more recently and may not have been involved since August.
The rules are when it's a senior officer the DOD/IG has certain responsibilities I'll get you an answer on that.
Q: Do you plan on doing a lot of traveling? (Laughter) Seriously.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think in the short term I will probably be here working the markups. This is a bit of an unusual transition in that it's much like running, passing a baton from one to the next, so I'm finding a lot of my time is just spent with the budget dynamics of the deputy secretary being the fusion point between the director of Central Intelligence and the Department of Defense Intelligence Agency, so that's taking a lot of time.
I have a few conferences to speak at. Last weekend I visited Alaska to meet with the Corps of Engineers up there really to get their briefs on the milcon aspects of Shemya and the interior sites that they're looking at.
So I don't know how much time there will be to travel. In terms of being an effective deputy secretary you're right, the only way you really know what's going on is to be out in the field talking to people or reading your colleagues in the Early Bird, as I do now, between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning.
Q: Fast reading.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: When I was P&R I tried to read it electronically every morning, keeping the flow with being paperless, things like that. I've found in this job I have to regress and actually read it in a printed format simply because I have to read it in the car or read it as I'm going to the Hill, things like that. That's usually my situational report in terms of how things are going.
Q: You don't have a really long time... Did you come in with any kind of agenda, something you want to do maybe different from Hamre, or taking anything he did further? Or is this really just a caretaker slot...
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I hate to refer to myself as a caretaker. I can assure you there's too much stress in a day just to have the mental attitude that you're a caretaker.
I think there are some critical issues that are pending -- missile defense, joint strike fighter, the markups, export controls, continuing the other defense reforms. So I think there are a number of things that have to be completed between now and January 20th, so I very much regard myself as continuing to work the agenda that Secretary Cohen and Dr. Hamre have given. But as I say, this is a passing of a baton and really not the start of a new period.
I hope that by January 20th you will write in my epitaph that I was more than a caretaker.
Q: I'll keep my eye on you.
Could you talk about what...
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The key challenge will be to see how long it takes Tom (inaudible) to get my new e-mail address. Although I'll be happy to provide it to everybody.
Q: Can you talk about what is on your plate for export controls? What's coming up? What are you concerned about?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: There is a discussion about how the U.S. should posture itself as we face the European security initiative as well as our own industrial base has obviously gone through many, many, many changes. So just looking at how we try to do three things I think in the export process.
One, make sure that we have interoperability with our allies. I think coalition operations are critical to our success and critical to the success of our allies.
Second, making sure that the technologies don't get exported to folks that wish us ill. This is a military weapon as well as technology that might assist in terms of the navigation of ballistic missiles, things like that.
The third thing is to work and try and maintain our industrial base. I think those are the three critical pieces of the export to date that's really going on right now.
Q: So those things have been embedded in the Pentagon approach to export control for a long time, at least as long as I've been covering it, so what do you see happening?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: We're working with the Congress and the Department of State to try to institutionalize some of these changes in terms of how we improve the licensing process, things like that.
Q: Have you seen weaknesses in that system? What's happened that's alerted you all to needing to institutionalize them?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: In the past, this can get overtaken by time. You essentially can run out the clock trying to get the critical licenses. In some respects some allies have said don't use American components because you just get bogged down in this process, things like that.
So I think our main goal is to work and make sure that we can give predictability to this process, to our allies.
Q: You've been thinking about the issue of recruiting more young Latino folks in the military for some time. You were thinking about it I guess before the Army got their program underway. How has it been working out in your view?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think that the Army is working hard. First, the demographics of recruiting are starting to change away from the lowest mark in 1997 when the 18 to 23 year old group was I want to say $5 million smaller than it was in 1980. The demographic is one where the demographics of 18 to 23 year olds is starting to increase so that by '05 we're roughly comparable to where we were in 1985.
The statistics of Latinos in terms of their promotion rate are very high. There have been a unique set of issues that have been impediments to recruiting. I think Secretary Caldera has been working that on the Army side. But generally, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army are off to I think a good start in terms of recruiting for this fiscal year, realizing that it's early in the year, realizing that the critical months for recruiting are the May, June, July time period. But I think that to look and understand recruiting you have to look at the demographics and understand that.
The Hispanic community is one of the largest growing in the country, so I would agree that Secretary Caldera has appropriate focused recruiting resources on Hispanics.
Q: Do I understand you to say that there has been the kind of response that you had hoped for?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: In terms of Hispanics specifically, I have not seen data one way or the other that will say definitively that you've stepped forward or not. I do look at the recruiting data on a monthly basis. Thus far the Navy, Marine Corps and Army are off to a good start.
Having said that, these things are not front-loaded. In fact the first months you really try to hold your own, but the real test of how good a recruiting year you're going to have is again, the May, June, July time period as kids finish the school year and decide what are they going to be doing for the next year. Are they going to go to college? Do they want to join the armed forces?
So looking at that data, and looking at Tracy and I in my previous job have gone and met with the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as the people at the Bureau of the Census to start looking at the generational demographics. So there are a number of things that start to have an impact.
One, the pool of 18 to 23 year olds is getting larger. Two, each of the services now has experience working in the marketplace with this new generation. I think that in '97 and '98 there was a feeling that if I do everything I did in 1988 I will have success at recruiting. Many things changed. The economy changed, the opportunities to go to college changed, and the demographics changed significantly. The drawdown changed, masked in some respects, the demographic changes.
So this is going to be a very hard recruiting year. At the same time I think the services are working very hard. I think the challenge is to continue to take in quality people, realizing that the pool of eligible recruits is going to be larger in '05 than it was in 2000. That 2001 is larger than it was in '97. And so I think there will be a lot of work in terms of looking at the numbers and trying to understand what is at work.
Q: Are you thinking that demographics are basically going to resolve this chronic recruiting shortage?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: No, because I think the marketplace has changed. We're in direct competition with the marketplace in terms of looking for someone who is drug-free, has the personal skills to finish high school, and is sort of a completer of what tasks they finish. Also these kids are media savvy in ways that their predecessors have not been in terms of working in the web, getting information, looking at all their options.
Finally, America has changed the college opportunity for young people today. The "be all that you can be" campaign that General Thurman put together in the late '70s that was extremely successful in the '80s had at its roots, join the armed forces and we will open the door for college education and opportunities."
Today with Hope Scholarships, with simply some of the scholarships that the Army National Guard is offering in states, kids have multiple opportunities for going to college today.
So I think in many respects we are directly competing for those same kids. I think that's why Charlie Moskos is, with his work I think is being quite interesting because it helps us understand the changes that are going on with young people.
I think the Murphy-Eskew report helped us understand that further. Then finally the youth attitude tracking survey gives us great data on why kids elected not to join in the last two or three years. But what Admiral Tracy and her team are really looking at is how do we engage with kids today to find out more about their career goals, more about how we market the intangibles of military life and how this may lead you into the job market. Because the skill set that the job market is really stressing are the same skill sets that young kids have after four years in the armed services.
So it may force us to change and realize that as we try to recruit and retain a career force, we're also going to be recruiting, training, recruiting and training young, skilled kids in the area of computer security. Ms. Novakovic and I tracked an e-mail from Dr. Hamre's desk until it sort of went into the, sort of the web outside the Department of Defense. You got to the server, you go to the place where we're securing the system, and what you meet are these incredible 23 and 24 year old kids.
One was a young lieutenant. He knew to the day what day his four year tour was completed. He had signed his agreement with a computer company. I said what was your major? He said it was computer programming. I said I'll bet you didn't spend a single day doing computer programming, did you? He said no. I spent all my time doing network integrating. We invented all of this process.
So in many respects, just as the armed forces are producing pilots for an airline industry that greatly exceeds the requirement of the airline industry, we may find that our mindset has just got to change in terms of young, savvy kids who come in, acquire the technical skills, and then move on to the private sector. I think the challenge for us will be to make sure that we have the right training programs and then to make sure that as that young lieutenant becomes fully versed in network integration that he's mentoring the college graduate who has just been commissioned and showing him the path to get these skills, too.
So what it shows is that the recruiting and retention environment I think is changing dramatically.
Q: You're losing young techies at sort of the same rate as pilots? Does that cause you a concern?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: We don't have the data yet to... For awhile we would track computer programmers, but then what we found out, it's really network integrators. So this is an area where we're working with Dr. Gansler as well as Art Money as well as the services to understand how well we're filling the pipeline in terms of kids with these unique skills of being able to make all of these systems interact.
Q: Your leading captains in the Army, surface warfare officers in the Navy are leaving, pilots have been leaving for years. What are you thinking about how better to retain officers, junior officers?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I can't divide a pie that way.
It's a more complicated question than special pay and other retention tools that we have ongoing. These are careers that are extremely important to the country, where individuals can make a difference and where the intangibles are in many respects more important than the specifics of compensation. I think each of the service chiefs is working this aggressively.
I think to put stability in the military career and predictability I think are two important elements of it. But I think also that we need to simply stress in part the importance of these positions and these people, and to make sure that the rest of the country appreciates the sacrifice that goes with that service and that military career.
Q: What surveys have indicated dissatisfaction by the junior officers to the senior leadership? Should that be viewed as sort of age-old belly-aching as junior officers or is it something more serious than that, do you think?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I guess in my own mind the one issue that I'm trying to sort through is never before have we had as many tools for collecting information, for passing information, for sharing information. I'm not sure but that we're better with the technology of how we move information than we are with the content and how we talk to each other. We can talk faster. Whether we talk clearer, I think is an important piece.
I think everyone in a leadership position reads the surveys to try and understand the underlying issues. Pieces of it are the need to invest more broadly than the $60 billion in procurement when Admiral Owens outlined that several years ago. I think Secretary Cohen and his team have really invested much larger than just the procurement dollars in terms of the investment in people, their pay, their benefits, their housing. Moving to improve medical. Moving to increase the dollars that are available for O&M.
But from my position, the quality of our communications in an information period I think is something we're still all working through. What is the best way to talk to you? I'm sitting here at a table talking to you. You're not submitting me questions on the web and I'm responding back. So I think this is an issue for the whole society to determine just how we communicate with each other.
Q: Might it be the officers, that e-mail is enormously a hierarchical system that permits junior officers to communicate directly with seniors? In the Marine Corps you have this problem where privates will send an e-mail to the commandant complaining about the chain of command.
Is it simply that you're having people talk rather than (inaudible) electronically, there's much more horizontal communication going on, so guys at Bragg know who's complaining at Leavenworth about the Chief?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The difference though is you've got it in paper form. I guess I'd want to think about that, but I do think this is a critical issue in terms of how we talk to each other.
Q: An industrial base question. What's the status of the Defense Science Board's final report to you guys? And is it a virtual certainty you're going to adopt all the recommendations that increasing progress payments and the like, increasing R&D for six one, six two?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The final version hasn't made it to me. I think it's still with Jack Gansler. I've had a preliminary brief from Phil O'Deen. I think he's made a number of very, his panel has made a good number of very constructive recommendations. I wouldn't want to commit to progress payments versus some other suggestions until there's a final product in, but I think it was a very useful piece of work.
Q: What's the message you want to impart to the defense industry that's somewhat on the rebound in the last month and a half?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think it's less of an issue to the defense industry and more of a message to the financial community that the defense industry plays a very critical role in our country, in terms of our country's security. I'd be the last person to say that the stock market drives stock prices up and down. But I do know that the value of these companies is considerable in terms of an aircraft produced with the engineer that works for that company or the technician that can integrate an avionics system with a fly-by fire system, things like that. And that the value of these companies is more than just simply the contract that they have on any particular day.
So I think that O'Deen gives us a good snapshot of issues, and I think our message is to the financial community that at the heart of this is more than just the health of an industry, but rather the security of our country in the next decade. When you look at our technological edge and how important that is to us, I think O'Deen has a very constructive report of the Defense Science Board.
Q: Is the message that the industry's healthier than Wall Street has given it credit for in the last year?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think the industry has more value than the financial community is giving them.
Q: You also have to deal with Congress on this thing. You know there's a strong populist sentiment up on the Hill not to help companies increase profits. This has been a (inaudible) for the last 50 years. You've seen it on various issues.
Do you think there's going to be a hard sell on Congress in getting their tacit approval to increase payments or do things that help the industry's cash flow?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: You're asking me to sort of speculate on issues before we've even put a report on the table and before I've seen the final version. I think, Tony, I'll just go back to what I said. I think there are a number of constructive recommendations that are in the report. We're waiting for the final report to come forward so we can take it to the Secretary and then present it to the Hill.
Q: What's the time line?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think the next two to three weeks.
Q: You said the Navy, Army and Marine Corps are doing fine with recruitment. You didn't mention the Air Force.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think the Air Force is now working recruiting very vigorously. For many years the Air Force had a certain competitive advantage in their recruiting process so I think they were slower to ramp up and hire the number of recruiters that were necessary. They were slower to do some of the analytical research. But I think the previous Vice Chief, Les Lyles, and the current Vice Chief, John Handy, as well as Sara (inaudible) and Whit Peters are putting a lot of effort. So I think when we look at recruiting later in the year we'll see that this greater investment on the part of the Air Force will pay dividends.
Q: Are they now falling short?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: They're behind.
Q: I know there's a desire to have closer military relations with China, but it's also no secret that some kind of (inaudible), especially senior military officers, felt that Taiwan should have gotten (inaudible). Is there any feeling to your knowledge among (inaudible) to the State Department and the White House? And how about the Taiwan Relations Act? Is there any support that you know about on behalf of the enhanced Taiwan Relations Act?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Generally I think everyone I've talked to thinks that the package that was presented was a fair package, that it really focuses on defensive systems and I've not heard a lot of dissenting discussion about it.
Q: Are you guys involved at all, back on recruiting, in the ad campaigns that the Army and the Air Force are developing in terms of what they stress or how they (inaudible)? Or is that strictly their thing?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: It's their dollars. We did the Murphy-Eskew study really to try and understand how well we were doing in terms of spending advertising dollars, looking first at the business side. I think the Murphy-Eskew report shows, we really don't understand Madison Avenue. As I said a few minutes ago, we don't understand Wall Street. We don't understand Madison Avenue that well either. So I think Murphy-Eskew gave us a number of steps in terms of how we become better prepared to spend our dollars wisely.
On the content side, each of the services are working through, but it's as much I think the intangibles of service. I'm trying to think of the program that I watched over the weekend where I saw a new Air Force ad.
Q: "When Good Kids go Bad"? (Laughter)
Deputy Secretary de Leon: No.
Q: The NBA playoffs.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The NBA playoffs.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: The NBA playoffs. There was a new Air Force ad. It showed them interacting, sort of working together, and then the other activities that they're engaged in. I think...
Deputy Secretary de Leon: Well, more that there's a place for you to fit in, I think. I have not gotten a brief from the Air Force on the strategy behind the new ads. It will be a good question to ask.
Q: Have you given any thought, are you giving any thought to the suggestion, to the proposal in telling (inaudible) keeps pushing, that maybe you should do a 15 month enlistment, maybe you'd get more (inaudible) there. Join the Army, see the world thing.
Deputy Secretary de Leon: For the most part the services have expressed concern that 15 months isn't enough time to train someone, integrate them into a unit, and then have the kind of cohesiveness that you want in a unit.
I think the other piece thought that Charlie raises is that we really do need to look at the college market and for the student that is not on a four year track, who may want to take a break, that they could join and serve and that there would be some good opportunities for them. I know the services are looking through this.
Q: Don't ask/don't tell. You're in a kind of difficult position with having been sort of the don't ask/don't tell czar here for several years. Now you're DepSecDef, and you're looking at a Democratic candidate who says, there's one thing he's talked about he's going to do if he's elected is undo that. How do you manage the next several months with the notion that if your party is successful they're going to undo everything next year?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: My job in the past has been to make sure that the law is fairly implemented and fully implemented, and that the policy is executed correctly. So we have been using a number of tools to track that and work with that. It's a policy not without some controversy, but I think that our responsibility has been to focus on the fairness and fullness of the implementation. That's where I'll stay focused.
Q: A budget question for you. You were here at the inception of this Administration and you helped craft the first budget with Bill Lynn. One of the continual criticisms of the Clinton military posture is that of a robust engagement policy that they haven't bankrolled fully. We've had to every year scramble and get funds for O&M to pay for O&M, to pay for these ambitious plans.
How valid is that as a criticism from someone who's been here since day one helping to craft the budgets of this building?
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think budgets are dynamic. There has been vigorous advocacy of supplementals to pay for the operational O&M piece. There has been a commitment from '95 on to increase the level of investment in procurement. There has been a commitment during Secretary Cohen's tenure to invest in people, in their benefits. So in terms of the budget itself, I would say this has been a very dynamic process. And that the five year defense plans are constantly changing, but that we've been very vigorous in terms of paying the operational component. Working the Hill to give supplementals, to cover that piece.
Now to add to it, the necessary level of investment, whether it's taking the procurement dollars and through the FYDP increasing those dollars, whether it's to continue to improve the pay and quality of life for military men and women, and some of the other investment that's going on.
So I'd just come back, Tony, and say that the budget process is a very dynamic one. That it is changing continuously, and that we're working the budget continuously?
Q: But is it a fair critique? Under Aspin there were ambitious plans for engagement and you had the criticisms that you short-changed O&M and you had to pull from procurement and readiness. In retrospect did the early part of the Administration just underestimate the tasks that you were involved in with the post Cold War world and had to scramble every year...
Deputy Secretary de Leon: I think I'd say that one, the budget is a dynamic process. Two, if we were at the table in '93 or '94 I would have said that the deficit was a major problem for the country in terms of security issues. We look at security in terms of the level of spending in the defense bill. Security is a much broader sense than that. So the tradeoff between now having a balanced budget and the greater investment that is occurring in military budgets is significant.
So again, I wouldn't say that the people in 2000 look at the world radically different than '93. They've got to measure each of those budgets based on the unique circumstance and facts that they see, and then determine what level of spending is appropriate.
Thank you very much.