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DoD News Briefing: Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White
August 25, 1995 1:30 PM EDT

Friday, August 25, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.

(NOTE: Participating in this briefing were Secretary John P. White and Captain Michael Doubleday, DATSD/PA).

Captain Doubleday: Welcome. This afternoon we've got the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dr. John White, here to give everybody an update on the report of the Commission on Roles and Missions. And I just wanted to remind everybody that Dr. White in his previous position was the chairman of the commission in the event that there is somebody here who hasn't been covering the Pentagon.

With that, I will turn over the podium to Dr. White for his update.

Dr. White?

Dr. White: Thank you, Mike.

Good afternoon. Let me run through a few comments here first and then I'd be more than happy to take your questions.

First of all, I want to put this in the larger context of the Department. We've been through a drawdown. If you look at it, you will recognize that it's been done and if historically you understand what's been done in the past, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, you will recognize that this has been done differently. It's been done more smoothly, more deliberately. It's been done with refashioning a strategy in terms of the Bottom-Up Review. It's been done while maintaining the readiness of the forces. And I think those are significant accomplishments.

Now, as we go forward, we now have a situation where we have to emphasize modernization. We have had the luxury over the last few years to not put as much emphasis on modernization as we went through the drawdown. That's basically over.

There are a number of things that we need to do in consonance with that and they have to do with things that we ought to do anyway from efficiency, but take on particular importance because of the need to free up resources for modernization, while maintaining our force structure and maintaining our readiness. Hence, you get to acquisition reform, financial management reforms that need to be done just from a management point of view, the BRAC process, the privatization process that's related to BRAC as well as to the roles and missions, and the roles and missions activities themselves.

So we have a whole set of initiatives here that are important to us in terms of effectiveness but also in some cases in terms of saving money.

Now, let me then put the roles and missions in that context. Recall that the commission said that the principal overarching issue here was making sure that we were enhancing the capabilities with respect to the operators, with respect to the CINCs, the war fighters. And they broke that then down into three particular areas. One had to do with operations, principally joint operations. One had to do with support, efficiency and effectiveness of support and structure and the third one had to do with the decision making process.

What we have done now is take those, and I'm going to respond to the commission in this context, (which is our formulation of the way we break out and look at what is effectively the same kind of elements): readiness, force structure, modernization and decision making. And what the Secretary instructed was that we go and look carefully at the report, identify the recommendations, go through those recommendations and make a specific judgment in terms of what we ought to do with them.

We've done that. Ted Warner, the Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Requirements is here. He led that team. You end up with basically a couple of senses here of what comes out.

First of all, we have accepted somewhere in the order of about two-thirds or more, thus far, of all of the recommendations. I'm not going to get into the detailed numbers because the accounting can get a little slippery in terms of what is exactly a recommendation. There's over 100 recommendations. We've done over 70 where we've said yes.

The "yeses" fall into two categories. One is yes now, that is to say we've done it. And the second category says yes, we're doing it, now we have to do some analysis to implement it. Not to decide whether we're going to do it but in fact to implement it. So there's a set of those. That's most of them.

The second or third category, if you will, we've got two there, yes now, yes later but yes, and then you have a set which are complicated and the question is should you do more or something different than what you're doing. Reserve components, a lot of emphasis in that report on reserve components. So we're looking at that and I'll go through a series of those. So that's a second or third set.

And, finally, the ones that have been rejected, which is a very small number, somewhere around eight or ten or something like that, again, depending on exactly how you count.

So with that, let me go through briefly some ideas in terms of these various categories and then, as I said, I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Joint training and capabilities. We have accepted a large number of those recommendations. The chairman is crafting a joint vision which the commission said was central to improving joint capabilities and joint war fighting. The chairman and the JCS have been assigned responsibility for overarching joint doctrine, which is also an emphasis in the report. We have increased emphasis on joint training, specifically with respect to theater missile defense. We are going to focus on a single C3I architecture which again was a specific illustration or recommendation in terms of the commission. So there's a whole set of those types and you will see those in the letter that we sent to the chairman of the Armed Services Committees today.

So the emphasis in the report on jointness is picked up in terms of what it is we are doing and it is very critical in our judgment in terms of kind of the next round of Goldwater-Nichols reforms.

Sustaining needed forces. Again, a whole set of issues here which are important where we have taken a number of actions. One is in terms of making the Air Force the executive agent on space, which increases the focus and control. The second one is making the Air Force the executive agent on combat search and rescue. A third one is conducting a major review of our deep attack assets, numbers, mix, size, et cetera. Another one, as I mentioned earlier, is the reserve components. And a third one is operational support aircraft where by next year, early next year, January, we will have a report from the chairman with respect to an assessment of what we ought to do in terms of the OSA fleet.

The third element has to do then with modernization, efficiency, support structures and so on. There, as many of you know, the big emphasis is on outsourcing. We've accepted that recommendation, we've done it in terms of initial emphasis on the depots with respect to Kelly and McClellan. You will see a good deal more of that. We're looking at outsourcing candidates in a very broad range of activities, from health to education to family housing to finance to accounting and so on. So a broad theme throughout this is, yes, we're going to do a lot more of that sort of thing and we're also looking at a whole set of recommendations that are there and accepted a number in terms of improving the internal support activities by reducing overhead costs in areas such as central logistics, aviation management, and so on.

The fourth category, decision making, again, we've adapted a large number of these recommendations. One of them has to do with biennial budgeting. As you'll note in the letter that went to the Hill, we said we're more than prepared to do biennial budgeting, but if you are not going to do biennial budgeting, we'd rather stop going through the exercise since it's expensive and we've been at it now for several years and you've chosen, that is, the Hill has chosen, not to do it.

We are also examining and will have reports with respect to the size of the service staffs, which again is an issue that was recommended by the commission.

And, finally, in this area there are a number of front-end assessments that in terms of the improvement of the planning process were recommended and the Secretary has asked the chairman to do that and we're working together with him on that and we will have the product of those assessments early next year so that we have them for our next budget and decision cycle.

So, again, in summary, we have accepted the lion's share of these recommendations. We have implemented a large number. Some of the bigger, more complicated ones we're still studying. The number rejected outright as not appropriate are particularly small.

We will next give a report on our progress when we send up, early next year, our annual report to the Congress, because we've committed internally to ourselves that we will devote a chapter of that report to the roles and missions activities and where we stand in terms of those activities.

So let me finish up and try to answer any questions that you may have. This fits into the larger context of what we're doing, so it fits in nicely, it's supportive of the other kinds of things we're doing. And my objective here is to make this part of our overall increase in effectiveness and efficiency and begin soon to basically kind of lose track of it as a roles and missions initiative, but just make it part of our ongoing process.

Thank you.

Q: In the Department's analysis of this report, have you made an estimate of how much you could or would save if you implemented a certain number of the recommendations that you have already in fact adopted?

A: No, we have not made - - I have not seen that and I have not made any such analysis yet that would say if we do X we would save so much. We have a number of things underway but, no, we have not.

Q: Did you accept the recommendation on co-locating aircraft program management offices?

A: Is that in the study category?

Dr. Warner: We're looking at that. It's one that they will look at and have an answer on within then next months.

Q: Can you elaborate a bit as to how you're going about that, what's entailed in doing that?

A: Let me look into it a minute.

Q: Can you give us a couple more examples of both the third and the fourth category, that is, the ones that are complicated that you're going to do more research on and the ones that you rejected all together?

Dr. White: Sure. Let me give you some specific examples. Detailed complicated issues, deep attack -- the question of mix and number of assets and capabilities of those assets, so that's all service. Reserve components remember in the report they talked about whether or not you have the right mix of reserves, particularly in light of the shortfall of CS and CSS combat support, combat service support people and the overall size. We're doing that. Operational support aircraft we're doing. Changes in the unified command plan which the chairman will respond to soon, that is this fall which are in there, and restructuring the military departments staffs. Remember there was a recommendation, I've forgotten exactly how it came out but it effectively had to do with putting the military and civilian staffs together.

Q: This is the category of things that you are going to do, or you're going to study?

A: That we are studying to see whether we will do. What we will do.

Excuse me. Let me go through a number of the rejections.


One rejection was that the DOD should take on a role of training third world constabulatory or police forces. We don't do that now and in our judgment that should be left with the Justice Department.

A second one is whether or not the vice president ought to be in charge of an interagency effort in terms of counter proliferation. We've got a lot of other things going on in counterproliferation, and have increased that activity, but we rejected that specific recommendation as not being required.

Another one is whether we would combine the program review and the budget review and the PPBS process. We said we didn't think that was a particularly good idea.

There was also a question of whether or not there ought to be a specific integration element or group in OSD in terms of the PPBS process, and as we looked at it we felt we didn't really need that, so effectively we said no, we don't think that's a change that's needed.

So that's the flavor of what we did.

Q: Why did you reject the suggestion that DOD take on the role of training third world police?

A: Because we don't think it's an appropriate role for the military. We think it's a civilian responsibility and it ought to be left with Justice.

Q: We're looking at maintaining readiness, sustaining force structure, ensuring modernization, which was something that was already an objective and improving DOD decision making. There's no big surprise in here really, I mean it's more or less a number of objectives that have already been stated outside of the study.

A: No, no. Absolutely. These are simply organizing principles. All I'm telling you is that as we organize, when I organize the description of the feedback of what we did, I put them in four buckets. These are the buckets I put them in. There's nothing new here at all. It's not intended to be.

Q: Is there anything new that could be pointed to, we're going to consider this, we're going to look at that, there's nothing that's really even being advocated as a result out of the study that I can see so far. No major move to privatize - -

A: I'm sorry, that's just what I went through. That's the whole point. We've got some - - I don't know, eighty-something recommendations in here that we've either accepted or are studying to accept. Privatize, yes, we're going to do that. We're doing it with the depots, we're going to do it with a whole array - - or look at doing it with a whole array of other issues.

Q: They're being considered - -

A: No. Privatizing is not being considered, we're doing it. I announced it in this room a month ago in terms of McClellan and Kelly.

Q: But I mean separate from this study, though, or is it - -

A: It's not separate from this study. It's based on this study.

Q: The privatization of the depots and - -

A: Yes. That's where the idea came from. The idea came from the study, okay? So that's what we're doing. C3I architecture integration, we're doing it. We're going to do it, okay? Increased theater ballistic missile defense, we're doing it based on the recommendations of the study. Air Force as the executive agent for CSAR [combat search and rescue], we're doing it based on the study. And so there's a long list in the report.

Q: Particularly with respect to privatization, you mentioned the depots. Is there going to be a move to go to more privatization with the shipyards and how soon would you see that coming?

A: We have started on the depots. The depots are very important to us. We need support on the Hill in order to get the depot activities done because of the restrictions. We're working on that. We haven't gotten to the shipyards yet in terms of whether we will do anything. So we just haven't addressed that question.

Did I answer your question? I'm still not sure I've got it.

Q: I'm just not sure that I'm clear and maybe it's me, but I'm not sure that I'm clear on what is -- what we have not heard before from this announcement.

A: You've got a whole set of - - do you all have the letter? There's a letter there that lists a whole - - it runs through item by item by item all the things that we've accepted out of that package.

Q: Okay. But for the most part, they're not at the point now where they're going to be implemented. Some of the privatization - -

A: A large number, a very large number are going to be implemented. Out of the total, some - - I don't know, 40 or so have already been implemented.

Q: I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on why deep attack is such a problem and how you envision it being sorted out. Do you see one service doing deep attack or is it going to be a joint mission? Or give us a better flavor of what's going to be going on as you study it in the coming months.

Q: Clearly from a war fighting point of view, to the extent that you can maintain a robust deep attack capability, so that you can either kill the enemy before they get to your ground forces, or certainly if they've already gotten there, in terms of killing their deeper assets, headquarters, logistics, more strategic weapons, et cetera, so it's a big target set, very, very important to us.


A second point. As you look across all the assets that you have to do that, you have a lot of them. You have a lot of TAC air, you now have bombers which, because of the changes in the strategic environment, put more of those in the tactical arena, that is, put more of those into conventional warfare area, so you put those on top. You have precision guided munitions, which you didn't have before, which increases the lethality of what you have. You have Tomahawks. You have ATACMs, so you have all of the services with capabilities to deliver weapons and munitions to this particular broad mission.

We've spent a lot of money on all of that, so the question is do we have the right mix and do we have the right size and are we managing it properly across all the services?

Q: So you don't foresee that there will be one service that's going to take over the whole mission?

A: No. It would be inappropriate.

Q: You alluded to support on the Hill for the privatization of the depots. One key step in that, I gather, would be repeal of the 60/40 rule.

A: Yes.

Q: If that doesn't happen in the authorization bill for this year, will you be able to go through with the privatization or will that be delayed?

A: Well, it will be - - if it doesn't go through this year, it will be a question of the rate at which we could do the privatization. We can clearly do - - in the case of - - the numbers are getting reworked, in the case of McClellan and Kelly, we can clearly do one of them, or half of both of them, or some such mix. But remember we have five years to do this as well, so if we don't get it this year, we're going to be back next year.

Q: What did you say about the Air Force and space being the executive - -

A: Air Force is the executive agent for space, for managing the design, et cetera, for space.

Q: What does that mean?

A: It means that instead of having all of the services have their own space capability, that you have one service that has primary responsibility that, has to listen to the other services but in fact has primary responsibility.

Q: Would it to help me to understand if you were to say that in the 1950s we were starting over again in space, it would be not a NASA project but an Air Force?

A: No. This is military only. This is only military. It has nothing to do with NASA.

Q: I know but, I mean, if we were starting a space program over again, would we want to create a civilian agency or would we just give it to the Air Force? If what you're talking about was in effect?

A: Oh, I think you'd still need a civilian agency. This only has to do with military applications in space. It does not have to do with civilian exploitation of space, which is what NASA's mission is. This is a question of multi-service competition in terms of providing - - in terms of building their own as opposed to having some coherent system where we've got one agency in charge.

Q: It seems to me that if you go back far enough you'd find the Navy saying, well, it's space and we need space ships so it should go to the Navy and the Army would say, well, we're the big service and we own space and the Air Force would say, well, we fly. I mean, it seems that there was a long-time rivalry over this.

A: Exactly. And we're trying to - -

Q: The Air Force has now won that?

A: No, it doesn't mean they won it, it means that in terms of the planning going forward, we have to be more efficient, we think, in having one service have primary responsibility for it.

Q: Do you think the Army Space Command will go away?

A: Not that I know of. Each of the services still has requirements, it's just that we're not leaving them all to generate their own requirements and provide their own space systems.

Q: In terms of the depots, do you expect that Congress will lower the limit of how much depot work has to be in the private depot, either 40 percent or - -

A: Our hope is that we could have relief from the 60/40 rule and determine what the appropriate mix in the depots and out of the depots is on our operational needs as opposed to some artificial number, which is what we have today.

Q: A hard question on medical care. Have you decided the size of what the medical corps will be? Will it be - - the ability to treat wartime casualties in wartime or peacetime for members of military only? Or will there be some sort of residual care for family members and retirees?

A: Well, in the first place, by way of correcting your formulation, if I may, the issue and the recommendation by the commission was as you size your medical capability, you use as your baseline one or the other, that is, either wartime requirement or peacetime, and then add to that, okay? So it wasn't use that and size to that, it was use that as the baseline and add to that and make a judgment about how big it ought to be. That's important because otherwise you're going to have people saying, "Oh, my God, they're going to size it down to something that's too small for other needs." So that's point one.

Point two is that's part of what the study is. Part of what the study is is the question of which of those or some other, what are the appropriate criteria and once you look through the appropriate criteria what's the appropriate size. We haven't gotten there yet. It will be several months.

Q: You've said that Congress changing the retirement pay scheme for service members is breaking faith. Would DOD changes to medical assistance also be dubbed breaking faith?

A: We're not - - I'm not going to speculate on changes. We're not making any changes. What our issue is here is whether or not we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the medical system. It's not a question of whether or not we're going to take away someone's medical benefits. That's not the question.

Q: Retirees and family members will still be getting the same or similar type services?

A: Right. Yes.

Q: Just to go back to the depots one more time, can you foresee a time when the Defense Department would be out of the depot maintenance business and would be farming all that work out to private handlers?

A: No. I don't see that time. I think you're always going to have a significant residual because you've got - - it's a continuum, right? It's a continuum and where you put it along that continuum for the builder, if you will, for the original equipment manufacturer, all the way to the war fighter. You're always going to have a significant middle that's active, that's in the DOD.

Q: Do you anywhere in this tell the Congress or tell the people how many people are going to be in uniform? That you're going to need in uniform in five years or ten years?

A: No. This has nothing - - this study had nothing to do with size. It really has to do with shaping rather than sizing.

Q: Some of these look like some of the more controversial tougher recommendations, it looks like you've decided - - things like restructuring military staff support, the reserve component, and yet if you just read the language that you have here, it sounds like you'd like to move in that direction, why not just put these in the second "yes but" category? You've got to figure out how to do it rather than - -

A: Some of it's a question of formulation. But if you will note in each of those cases we have a specific deadline of when we're going to deal with it, it's not like, well, yes, we'll have another look at it.

Q: Like on the reserves, the Army's been trying for at least five years to try to bring the reserves down. Why not just say yes, we're going to do this and go ahead with it rather than - -

A: Because in that case we've got a major issue with respect to the Army's "Total Army" analysis -- that includes reserves, we have to look at that in terms of the mix between the active force and the reserves. We've got to do both.

Q: I have a question for you on joint training. I think one of the recommendations of the commission was that you create a single command that does nothing but joint training. What are you going to do about that?

A: That's an issue under the - - I mentioned the chairman will have a report up in the fall on the unified command plan. The unified command plan will deal with that issue of whether or not there should be any new CONUS based combined CINC who would do nothing but joint training. That is, in shorthand, take away USACOM's AOR.

Q: Where does that fall in your category of yeses and nos? Is that a "yes but" or is that - -

A: No, it's a study. It's gone to the chairman. He legally has a responsibility to come forward in any event in this timeframe with recommendations to the Secretary and the President on those issues so we just put it in that category.

Captain Doubleday: We have time for one more question.

Q: Can you give us an update on any unusual troop movements and the state of play in Iraq?

A: I can give you - - I don't think I have any update in the sense that there's no new news from our point of view. The Secretary made a series of decisions, as you're aware of, in terms of deployments, because of our concerns about Iraq and those are underway. I got today, again, a daily update in terms of where we are on that progress, it's all going according to plan. So there's nothing new.

Q: Are Iraqi forces continuing to make movements that the Pentagon considers unusual?

A: Let me just say that in general our level of concern was raised because of activities in the country and because of the Kamel event and I'm not going to go any further in terms of specific details day-by-day.

Q: Has their level of concern decreased since the last time people briefed this?

A: I don't know the last time people briefed you.

Q: Last week, let's say.

A: I think it's probably just about the same now as it was then, but if anything the concern is down only because we've now got some things - - decisions were taken, those decisions are being implemented, that alone, you know, reduces the level of concern in the sense that we've responded to what we wanted to respond to. We still think we did the right thing and that's underway.

Thank you.

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