|RESHAPING THE MILITARY|
July 25, 2001
Civilian and military leaders consider major changes in the mission and budget of the armed forces.
MARGARET WARNER: For more on the battle over military reform, we turn to Mike Vickers, a former Army and CIA officer who's been consulting with the Pentagon on Secretary Rumsfeld's reform plans; Retired General Merrill McPeak, who was air force chief of staff during the Gulf War; Retired Army General Barry McAffrey, who headed the U.S. Southern command in the mid-1990s, and then directed the President's Office of Drug Control policy; and William Kristol, former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, and now editor of the Weekly Standard Magazine. Welcome, gentlemen.
Bill Kristol, what is going on over at the Pentagon? Why is this review provoking such a storm?
|Transforming the military|
WILLIAM KRISTOL: The Pentagon has two fundamental things it has to do under Don Rumsfeld. The American military has to fulfill its current responsibilities, which are considerable. We are the world's super power. We have an obligation and an ability to deter adversaries, to maintain our responsibilities around the world. And the president asked the Secretary of Defense to transform the military so we can leap ahead and be ready for the future.
In my view that takes more money and the big thing that happened is not anything that happened in the Pentagon I think. It's that Rumsfeld twice has been stuffed by the White House when he went to them and said we need in need in the most recent case a $35 billion increase for next year and the Office of Management and Budget said sorry, no. $18 billion only. There's not enough money to fulfill both of these tasks, current responsibilities and the future transformation.
MARGARET WARNER: Explain for me as a reporter and journalist around this town how and why you have Pentagon... Obviously Pentagon officers leaking to the press against this Republican Secretary of Defense who has only been in there, what, three or four months.
WILLIAM KRISTOL: Six. Well, part of it is the high expectations that a lot of people at the Pentagon, civilian and military had, of a new Republican administration. They didn't love Bill Clinton at the Pentagon. They felt I think correctly that they were asked to do an awful lot without getting the resources they needed. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney said help is on the way. And I think the Armed Services, the uniforms at the Pentagon are looking around and saying help isn't on the way.
Now we're being blamed for saying wait a second, all of this, you know, nice future stuff is nice, but we have to be able to support the troops in Kosovo, and we have obligations in Asia and we have obligations obviously in Europe. We need to be able to do this and the Joint Chiefs have said they would need $32 billion just to keep the thing running, keep things going at the level they're now going at, leaving aside missile defense, leaving aside transformation. Rumsfeld has provided $9 billion, not $32 billion.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, let me get back to the transformation. Mike Vickers, you're deeply involved in this. What is Donald Rumsfeld really trying to accomplish here?
MIKE VICKERS: Well, this has been the best opportunity in a decade or at least since the Cold War to really start addressing the challenges for the 21st century. With the guidance to the Quadrennial Defense Review the Secretary of Defense and his key deputies have posed a number of new challenges to the military to be able to project power in the face of what are called anti-access threats or where our bases may be denied by ballistic missiles or cruise missiles -- to assure our access and control of space, to be able to wage operations in the information domain.
Some of these things do not affect our core military capabilities, others do substantially and that's what the fight is about. And so, for example, where the Pentagon has been asked to look at these things-- and the QDR is supposed to look out 15 years-- the answers unfortunately have been a lot of more of the same or substantially more of the same. That's fine for today because we're going to fight with what we have but he's not right for ten or fifteen years from now. More of the same won't help.
MARGARET WARNER: So you're saying, in other words, when the military brass is asked to flesh out how they would accomplish what's in this blueprint, the answers aren't what Secretary Rumsfeld is looking for?
MIKE VICKERS: Well, I think it's wrong to characterize the military as homogeneous. There are a lot of the different views and different factions and that makes it difficult. But some of the reports back from these bureaucratic, what are called integrated process teams have been basically more of the same.
MARGARET WARNER: Why is that, General McCaffrey? Why is there this resistance?
GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (Ret.): Well, you know, it's appropriate to have a defense review. We have got some brilliant people, Vice President Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Hallez -- people around the Pentagon that know what they're doing. I'm sure when they're done with it we'll have a fresh, new look. But, look, the Army today is the size, smaller actually, than any force we've had since 1939. We've got eight divisions. We started off with 18 when we fought the Gulf War. There is a resource and structure problem that has to be addressed. It's a wealthy, powerful nation. We have worldwide, global interests. We'd better be prepared to modernize the force and man it with the quality people we need to defend America. Lots of us are worried about that process.
MARGARET WARNER: General McPeak how do you read what's going on?
GEN. MERRILL McPEAK (RET.): I think there's a lot of confusion here. Secretary Rumsfeld identified the need for large-scale change. He uses the term "transformation," and I believe that's really what's necessary here. And Bill Kristol and Barry McCaffrey are right that if you put more money against this, you can solve almost any problem with more money. But it seems obvious that more money is not on the horizon, not riding to our rescue here. So in my judgment, we need to look at alternatives that allow us to do the necessary large-scale change short of just throwing money at the problem.
MARGARET WARNER: What do you mean?
GEN. MERRILL McPEAK (RET.): Well, there are a number of things that should have been done a long time ago. If you look at, for instance, the tooth-to-tail ratio in the armed forces.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, you have to explain what that is.
GEN. MERRILL McPEAK (RET.): It's a comparison of active duty combat forces to the overhead and logistic support elements in the armed forces. Over the period of the Cold War, that tooth-to-tail ratio was about 50-50, which was disgracefully high and we should have done something about it then. But since the end of the Cold War, this active duty combat forces have been cut about 40 percent, whereas no real cut has been made in overhead or logistics forces so that now the tooth-to- tail ratio is something like 70-30 in favor of tail rather than tooth.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me interrupt you there though and ask do you think this is why Secretary Rumsfeld is getting some resistance or do you think there's also every service chief wanting to protect his own turf and not wanting to make changes that would basically require reducing their own conventional forces?
GEN. MERRILL McPEAK (RET.): No, I think that's absolutely correct. This is a zero sum game especially if you want to fund missile defense, and I believe that's a good idea, by the way. But if you want to increase markedly the funding on missile defense, then it has to come out of hide. There will be winners and losers in this process because there is not going to be any large plus-up in the defense budget. So naturally you can't expect the service chiefs or anybody wearing a uniform to step forward smartly and volunteer a large reduction in their individual force structure. This will be controversial.
|The money situation|
MARGARET WARNER: So, Mike Vickers, how does... From working with them, how do you think the Rumsfeld team, first of all, what's your reaction to what the Weekly Standard said in calling on Rumsfeld to resign, which he isn't getting the money from the White House that they believe they need, and, two, how do you pay for this transformation if there isn't anymore money forthcoming?
MIKE VICKERS: I think transformation is necessary whether money is forthcoming or not as general McPeak said. With all due respect to my colleague if the key people trying to push transformation right now were to resign, we'd be in worse shape than we are right now. As I said, I think it's the best opportunity we've had in a decade, and I would hate to see this one missed.
GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (Ret.): But you know, let me if I may interject. This isn't a zero sum game. The defense of the United States is not the sole responsibility to the Department of Defense. It's a shared responsibility. Congress raises and supports armies. So the amount of resources that are required to adequately defend our interests should be a public debate. At the end of the day, the American people will decide this issue. This is not a defense intellectual. This is not Andy Marshal's prerogative.
MARGARET WARNER: Andy Marshal being the top strategic planner at the Pentagon.
GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (Ret.): He's had very provocative useful ideas for the defense debate over the years. At the end of the day you're talking to a guy, Margaret that was wounded in combat three times on three combat tours. My son is a parachute entry brigade S-8. We want to ensure if we have to defend the U.S. interests in Taiwan, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, or Korea, that we have adequate air, ground, sea forces. And again, you know, powerful air force is the heart of that. Missile defense I couldn't agree more with Tony McPeak is a requirement 15 years from now to have that in place. But we still got to defend the American people and our regional partners.
MARGARET WARNER: But where are you suggesting, Bill Kristol, or you and your magazine that this money come from given the budget crunch that you so well described?
WILLIAM KRISTOL: There's a $160 billion budget surplus. No one doubts on the Hill I've talked to Democrats and Republicans about this. President Bush has made increase the defense spend ago priority. He could have had it. If he had said I want a tax cut but we need to spend more in defense, everyone agrees we're not spending enough just to keep doing what we're doing right now let alone doing the transformation that Mike correctly says is important if Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld had gone to the Hill, they would have had huge bipartisan support for a big supplemental this year and for a big budget increase for next year. They chose not to do that.
In a respect there was a failure of leadership on the part of the president. Still it's not a priority of his, increasing defense spending. He's told Don Rumsfeld go over there and transform the military. I do not believe you can do transformation on the current budget. Mike and his friends will work very hard on it. I wish them well. You cannot do it on the current budget.
It's unfair to blame the military, service chiefs for, quote, defending their turf. Does anyone think we can maintain our current responsibilities around the world with an army smaller than 400, not 85,000 men and women? I really don't think so. I think you're talking about in today's Washington Post pulling divisions out of Europe giving up on our policy of containment in Iraq. That is dangerous stuff. The chiefs are right to worry about that.
It's too easy to sit back and say, well, they're just bureaucratic obstacles. Bush could have provided more money. He still can. He still can. That I think is the shame. It need not be a zero sum game. We're spending 3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product on defense. The lowest number is Pearl Harbor. The Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has testified as Deputy Secretary of Defense that it's reckless to only spend 3 percent on defense, 3 percent of our GDP on defense. We should spend more.
MARGARET WARNER: Tony McPeak.
GEN. MERRILL McPEAK (RET.): Could have, would have, should have. I don't think we're going to get more money so the reality here is that we need large-scale change; we need transformation, and we're not going to get more money to do it. So, Instead of just throwing money at it, we have to sit down and use our head. I mentioned trying to get a handle on the tooth-to-tail ratio. Another initiative would be to look again at rules and missions where we have too much overlap in duplication in the existing armed forces. We've got the largest, you know, Senator Nunn got famous for saying that we have four air forces in this country. And he's right as far as he went except he undercounted. Everybody in town's got their own air force.
We could not have possibly arranged to do the tack air mission more expensively if we had sat down deliberately at the kitchen table and said let's figure out how to do this in a most expensive way. So there are very large savings that can be achieved here if we use our head. In my judgment, in other words, the defense budget at about the present size, $325 billion or so, ought to be enough to defend this country as Barry McCaffrey says needs to be done as well as to modernize the force and to keep it ready. But we have to be serious about transformation. We can't just think about marginal change or change at the edge of this thing and expect to do that job for $325 million.
|Predicting Rumsfeld's next move|
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Barry McCaffrey take as a given what Tony McPeak said there isn't going to be money. Take that as a point of argument. What do you think Donald Rumsfeld should do; can he do both?
GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (Ret.): For sure we don't one air force instead of four. We're not going to be safer if the United States Marine Corps isn't an air, land, sea team defend our interests. I don't think there's a way to magic ourselves out of this. At the end of the day the American people have to get engaged figure out what's at stake, ensure that we're a global actor and we have armed forces capable of doing it. That's going to take resources. The best young people in the country to join the armed forces and we've got to modernize. We still need the F-22, joint strike fighter. The Aegis program. There's no way out of it.
MARGARET WARNER: I can't explain all those weapons systems so let me turn to Mike Vickers. Bottom line is Bill Kristol right that this transformation you're talking about, given the budget crunch, will mean things like pulling a lot of troops out of Europe and pulling back say around Iraq, just two missions that I think most Americans are pretty familiar with?
MIKE VICKERS: Well, I think there are places where one could sensibly cut. And the point that I would add is even if the Defense Department got 30 more billion dollars, to spend it on the current program would not provide for our long-term security. It's fundamentally a strategic problem more than it is a budget problem. I think the issue rather than one air forces or four is the right kind of air force. I mean we need as again Secretary Rumsfeld and his colleagues have said we need more emphasis on long-range air. We need to ensure that we maintain air superiority. We need to migrate some capabilities to space. Those things have to be done. And if they're sacrificed on the altar of need-term readiness we're over insuring on the near term and under insuring on the long term.
MARGARET WARNER: Gentlemen, we have the leave it there. Thank you all four very much.