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Wolfowitz and Myers Brief on QDR Update

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz
August 08, 2001

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

(Also participating - Gen. Richard B. Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

ADM. CRAIG QUIGLEY (Department Spokesman): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Both Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dick Myers are here with us this morning to give a progress report on the Quadrennial Defense Review. The deputy and general both need to leave at 10 minutes of 12:00, so we've got about 20 minutes, and any questions following their time here with us we will try to take and get answers for.


MR. WOLFOWITZ: Thank you. These crutches are just to throw at somebody if I'm desperate. (Laughs.)

And at the risk of putting the disappointment right on the table, in the front, we're not here to report on results of the QDR. We're not at that stage yet. But we thought it might be helpful to discuss a little bit about the process.

And let me just by way of introduction mention that General Myers and I are here partly because the two of us decided about a week or 10 days ago to clear a significant chunk of our calendar each day to work this process intensively because we're getting down to the final stages and it's very important to get decisions crisply and moving along.

In the course of that, in one late evening session, it was actually the Joint Staff who produced a chart partly by way of explaining why it had proven difficult to answer one of the questions we had asked them to answer. And I thought it's a very insightful chart, in fact, it's not just an explanation of why they didn't get the work done. It was an explanation of how what we're engaged in is a very significant paradigm shift. That was the word on the chart, and as I think about it, I think it's an accurate description.

You start with two major regional contingencies, which we came up with as the regional defense strategy 10 years ago, at a time when we had a huge Cold War force structure that we were drawing down. We were aiming at two major regional conflicts as a sort of bottom of that, and it was still a very big force and everything could be treated as more or less a less or included case. But over the last 10 years we've drawn down the force structure and increasingly built a force size around two major regional conflicts, the assumption that that is a large enough requirement for everything else to be less or included has become increasingly inappropriate.

And in fact what it misses are the two other major elements: what we do with the force today, all of those -- we now call them small-scale contingencies, from Bosnia and Kosovo to elements in East Timor, forces deployed in Honduras or -- the secretary's favorite -- in the Sinai, all of those activities that put a large demand on the rotation base, large demand on personnel, large demand on so-called low- density, high-demand assets. Those can no longer be regarded as just a less or included case. They've got to be accounted for, and they've got to -- that accounting for that turns out to be a complicated, difficult job.

And other thing is what we'd like the force to be able to do in the future, not just the wars it might fight tomorrow, but the threats and new capabilities that we'd like to see 10 years from now or the day after tomorrow, as some people have put it. And that is a much more complex way of structuring your forces. It involves much more complex, ultimately -- things like much more complex measurements of readiness, as just one example. It involves, as I think we'd mentioned earlier, looking at forces not just in terms of their -- what we're now calling their operational risk, which is the risk associated with the war plans, but the force management risk, which is the risk associated with too much time away from home; the future capabilities risk, which is the risk that you won't achieve the transformation you have to; and finally, what we're calling the efficiency risk, which is the piece we're going to get into next, which is how we manage our infrastructure.

So it really is a very big change, and I think that's one of the reasons why it's turned out to be hard work.

I'll ask my colleague here if he wants to make a quick comment, and then we'll take questions.

GEN. MYERS: Yeah, this will just be quick. Just one thing to add to that is that I think there is consensus that the change is required. And that's a big element as well. And given what articles you're reading, you may not believe that some elements don't want change.

But there is consensus we have to change, and it goes back to the fact that today, as has been said by much of the senior leadership, we do have a strategy-to-force structure imbalance that has to be corrected.

So to get at that, we're going through some of the -- we're getting that through this shift of how we look at things, as Secretary Wolfowitz just mentioned. And I guess I'll just leave it at that.

But if there is consensus, it is that we need to change.

Q: Mr. Secretary, there are all kinds of --

MR.: Missed that one.

Q: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)

Q: There are all kinds of reports floating around that senior advisers to the secretary are calling for major cuts in Army forces, perhaps two, two-and-a-half divisions, perhaps removal of the carrier battle group. Could you comment on those reports? And also, is it likely that this whole process will result in some cuts in the military, be they to save money or be they because you have too many Army divisions, et cetera?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, it really is honestly too early to answer that. We don't know either what we're going to need in the way of resources or where we may have too many. What we're trying to do is to surface for the secretary and for the president, really indeed for all the senior leadership of the department as well where those trade- offs really are so that people can make knowledgeable judgments, informed judgments. I'm not quite sure the right word.

It is clear, and it was, I think, quite clear in the last meeting we had of the senior review group that at the end of the day, analysis can only get you so far, and judgment is required. And if you take this issue about supposedly some people advocating major force cuts, I don't think that's quite the right description. What we have tried to do is in this process surface for the secretary where you might be able to find some ability to take higher risk with respect to your force structure, or where you think that -- to go back to your alternative, that you have force structure you may not need, that the risk could be manageable with a smaller force structure.

At that same time, I think, force structure does other things than simply provide you the capability to fight wars. It provides you the rotation base that allows people to sustain over a long period of time considerable amount of deployment time away from home. And I think one of the things that this process has elevated much more than I think was the case when we began is that force management risk, the problems that come particularly for the Army and Air Force who aren't yet really organized to manage this issue of how do you keep people in the force when they're separated from their families for -- if they are separated from their families six, seven, eight months a year? The Navy and the Marine Corps already have fair established way of doing that. The Army is just at the stage of how to measure it.

So you have to look at the -- among other things, at the trade- off between what do you think you need in terms of force structure for combat capability? What do you think you need for force structure in terms of force-management capability. And I would say that the discussions we've had most recently have tried to raise those trade- offs so that the secretary can begin to make some judgments. But none have been made yet.

Q: Just a very brief follow-up, if I could. Given the fact that the United States is no longer preparing for a major land war in Europe, is there likely to be -- even if you don't cut overall forces, is there likely to be shift somewhat -- perhaps to a somewhat smaller Army, in order to feed other areas for the future -- the Navy and the Air Force?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: It's an area to look at. I mean, actually we've increased our force presence in Europe over the last 10 years because of the addition of the -- I mean, the Balkans is in Europe. That's added to what our presence is there. And one of the issues we're looking at is, what do you need in terms of forward deterrence requirements in all of the major theaters where we're deployed? And that's a piece where you are in fact looking at threat, and threat in Europe is, I think, indisputably lower than threat in other parts of the world.

But if I can just add, I think, again, to -- at the risk of beating my paradigm horse to death, it is a paradigm shift to say that's not enough to do it; we also have got to do what we're saying is capabilities-based analysis of those things you want to have 10 years from now, which really can't be calibrated against a precise threat.

Q: I'd like to ask both of you to address a common perception. For you, Dr. Wolfowitz, there's a perception that the incoming administration, the new administration, came in with a predetermined goal to reduce the size of the military, to find savings in the current force structure. Could you address that?

And General Myers, could you address the perception that some people have that the uniform military leadership has been somewhat obstructionist in blocking efforts to reform the Pentagon?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, let me start with the first. There certainly was no predetermined idea that we would cut the military. There was a predetermined idea that remains there, which is that we have to begin -- not begin; we have to accelerate the process of transforming the military. And that's going to take resources. In fact, I think it was understood from the beginning that it would take additional resources.

But it also means looking for savings, so that you get those resources not just from adding to your top line but getting rid of things that you don't need to do. And there are a lot of places we're looking for that. I mean, the Business Initiatives Council is -- headed by Pete Aldridge and the three service secretaries, is a major effort to look for waste that can be converted into war-fighting capability.

At the end of the day, you do have to look at personnel. It's one of the most expensive parts of what we do, but it's also one of the most valuable. And it's penny-wise and pound-foolish if you save a little money on personnel at the expense of losing a lot of your best people. So this force management problem is a very real one.

I'd just add one other thing, and that is, I think we were surprised coming in at the extent to which the mismatch between strategy and resources had created a very large number of unpaid bills that have got to be taken care of. So whatever illusions there might have been about how it's just a few small tweaks, there are very big ones that are needed.

GEN. MYERS: As to the issue of, I think your question was, Jamie, of the military being obstructionist, I would say absolutely not. As I said at the beginning, there is a consensus that we need to change, for the reasons that I gave and for the reasons that the secretary has been giving you here.

What we do have, of course, are passionate arguments because this is a tough process. To do the kind of change that we think is called for and, not to overuse the term, but to get through this paradigm shift, it is really tough work. And after all, the outcome of this work is probably going to have some effect on -- definitely will have effect on the lives and the well-being of the young men and women that are in our armed forces. So it is a passionate debate.

To characterize it, though, that on the one hand you have the uniformed military and on the other hand you have the civilian leadership is really oversimplifying the way it is. If we -- if you have 30 people in a room, some of them being military, some of them being civilian leadership, you'll have 30 opinions. And there are not -- and it doesn't work out that you have opinions in blocks. And we have free-ranging -- the secretary of Defense has set up a process where if you have an idea, you better speak. And so people speak with their ideas. And the tension is good because the good ideas prosper, the bad ideas go in the dustbin. But this notion that there is uniforms versus civilian leadership is a notion that just, in my view, is not supportable.

Q: This process was supposed to be further along, by your own set of yardsticks. It's proving more difficult, I gather, than you had initially anticipated. That's one question, and if you could comment on what sort of timetable you now feel you'll be able to hit as you approach the September deadline.

And secondly, there is an options paper in front of the secretary now, I gather, that has very specific number ranges of cuts, and there's another one that has no cuts, essentially. Will you put in public a description of sort of the maximum position of cuts that are described in that options paper -- the 2.8 divisions, the 16 Air Force squadrons, the two aircraft carriers, and no cuts for the Marines?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I think the answer's probably no. I mean, we have an internal process, which is meant to expose to the secretary a range of alternatives. And as a matter of fact, we did, I would say, almost a little bit of role playing to make sure that a pretty wide range of issues was put in front of him.

As I was listening to General Myers speak just a minute ago, I was thinking -- I think most of us in that room could argue the other side of every issue. And what we tried to do in yesterday's session, where we did present two alternatives, was to make sure that there were strong arguments pressed for both sides. I think, at the end of the day, we're going to try to come to -- we have to come to a -- probably not consensus, probably the secretary deciding -- a starting point, from which we are then going to proceed to do the rest of the work and probably proceed to build the whole QDR.

But it's also worth saying that this has to be a process that goes through multiple iterations, and I guess this is part of the answer to your question. We're going to get this thing done on time. But "done" doesn't mean that then we all go and march out smartly and know what we do for the next four years. There are going to be a lot of new decisions that are going to come down the road.

I imagine, as a guess, for instance, that we're going to come -- and this is just a guess -- we're going to come up with some new guidance for how to measure readiness. Does that mean we're going to have a completely perfected, new readiness system? Not at all. And it's going to be up to the services to try to respond to that guidance, and when they respond to it, then there will probably be more guidance. So it's trying to get a first approximation, looking at the large implications of that first approximation, and then taking it to the next step.

Q: Sir, when will you get to decisions on programs like tactical air, for example? Are you there yet?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: We're not there yet. We're really getting into that point. And one of the reasons for wanting to have a baseline to work off of is to then start looking at how those modernization decisions fit in with the baseline, looking at how your transformation goals fit in with that baseline. So those are really coming.

I would say we'll start to begin the analysis in the next few weeks. I think those decisions actually will be after the QDR itself is finished, and will be reflected in the '03 budget and the FYDP [Future Year Defense Program] that comes up with that budget.

Q: Sir, the services want and need to start preparing the '03 budget as well as the '03-'09 POM, but they're waiting on the new strategy and guidance from DOD on how to do that. They typically get this stuff done by October. When is that guidance going to come down from DOD, and how are they possibly going to get all that calculating done by October and have a good, solid budget?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, they have the guidance for their POMs just signed out last night. How that's going to end up fitting with the QDR is a challenge. I notice, looking at the last QDR, that it was issued in May of 1997. In May of 1997, we only had two confirmed officials of the new administration. So we're running to catch up. And, I mean, we'll have to see how the results we get from the QDR match up with what we get from the budget bills. But that's, in fact -- presumably the final budget decisions will get informed by what we come up with out of the QDR. But in the meantime, they have guidance as of last night to begin their budget work.

GEN. MYERS: Could I just add one thing? And one thing that's going to help, as I think you're probably well aware, is that the POM and budget cycles have been rolled into one, so we don't have two separate cycles. That gives them some margin. But it's going to be a tough task.

ADM. QUIGLEY: Just a couple more, please, ladies and gentlemen.

QMr. Secretary, you --

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I'll get her, then you. How's that?

QOkay, good.

Q: You mentioned some mismatch in strategy and forces, but also unpaid bills, some areas that you seem to be particularly concerned about. Can you highlight a few of those where perhaps you are not looking at cutting but perhaps adding to areas, or is that a misunderstanding? Do you see --

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, when I refer to unpaid bills, I mean infrastructure, real property maintenance account that was replacing infrastructure at a rate of nearly 200 years. We've added money in the '02 amended budget to try to get that down to 98 years, and we're going to the Hill with a request for a BRAC [Base Re-alignment and Closure] which will, if applied, allow that funding level to get us down to about 75 years. That's still too slow, but that's an example of an unpaid bill.

Another huge unpaid bill, of course, is in the whole area of modernization, which is not simply an issue of having more modern capabilities, it's an issue of having aircraft and ships and tanks and other equipment that are not beginning to become so old that operations and maintenance costs for those systems has begun to skyrocket. We are basically living off the equipment investment of the 1980s, and if you stop and think how many of you have cars that were built in the 1980s, I would bet it's a distinct minority of this room.

I mean, when things start to get old, they break more often, and the repair bills are a lot higher, and sometimes you have to go out for custom-made parts to fix them. And that is one of those bills that we have to either load money into the maintenance -- operation maintenance accounts, or start more rapidly retiring and modernizing in order to fix. That's what I meant about the kind of hole that we're in that we have to get out of at the same time we're trying to transform.

Q: Mr. Secretary, to complicate the problem you have over your internal debate, are you looking at what the reaction of Congress has been and is likely to be toward your proposals? I mean, they've already kicked back on things as simple as the B-1 force structure reduction. So how do you factor in the congressional reaction, who have to approve and fund anything that you come up with?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, I don't think the way you factor it in is by saying every decision that might be politically difficult we will shy away from. I think the way you factor it in is by trying to build the most coherent program you can with the strongest case you can build for moving forward. And I almost think that issues like the B-1 will perhaps -- perhaps be easier when we enlarge the problem. It's true that when we really take on all the issue that have to be taken on, we'll have a lot more people who are uncomfortable, to put it charitably -- (laughs) -- with what we're doing.

But I think hopefully also it will be easier to get across the stakes involved. And I think we really are talking here, as we are with Social Security or with education, about a real inter- generational issue. I think what this generation has a responsibility to do is make sure that the next generation or the next decade of Americans have as strong a defense capability as we've been bequeathed by our predecessors. And there's a lot at stake here. I think once people understand the stakes, some of the -- some of the discomfort might go out of the process.

Last one.

Q: Secretary, what options are you looking for? (Can you help us through ?) the small-scale-contingency-is-better idea? Are you looking at a force that just is dedicated to doing those kinds of things, for example?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Again, and sorry to resort to my paradigm shift, but that is -- once you peel out that as a specific requirement instead of seeing it as already somehow automatically covered by a major regional contingencies, the answer gets to be complicated and it leads you to questions about what is the rotation base to cover it? That's really the first issue and probably the one we'll concentrate on. And second is how do you measure readiness?

I mean, it -- we are in this, to put it mildly, a bit anachronistic situation where a division that has a brigade fully deployed and doing its mission in the Balkans is not ready, because it's designed to another mission. Well, we need to get those anomalies sorted out.

But I think as we work through those issues and those anomalies, we may also decide that there's a better way to organize for some of those missions, instead of taking a force that is trained and equipped to fight major tank battles in the Persian Gulf and just automatically assuming that that's the right force to deploy to Bosnia. But I think it's going to have to go in some stages, which is why, as I said, we're going to go through iterations in the QDR, which will be finished on time, will be the start of that, not the end of it.

Thank you very much.

Executive Summary of the QDR Terms of Reference can be found at: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2001/d20010808qdr.pdf

This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service, Inc., Washington, DC. Federal News Service is a private company. For other defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact Federal News Service at (202) 347-1400.

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