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REDIRECTION OF U.S. DEFENSE POLICY
Michael O. Wheeler
The 2001 International CCADD Conference
This paper, except for a new foreword and postscript, is identical to the one distributed electronically on 1 August 2001 and orally presented in Birmingham on the morning of 1 September at the international CCADD conference. I returned to the United States from the United Kingdom on 8 September and was driving to my office in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC the morning of 11 September when the al-Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That same morning I sent a short e-mail to those who attended the 1 September discussion. It was unclear when I composed that message whether other attacks would immediately follow, but what appeared certain even at that early point in the crisis was: (1) a transforming event had taken place; (2) it was more important than ever to firmly anchor plans and actions for self-defense and for bringing to justice the perpetrators of the atrocities, within a spiritual response cutting across religions and denominations; (3) the destruction of 11 September, as devastating as it was, could have been far worse; and (4) in this age of instant telecommunications, we indeed are one global community in which "no man is an island" and one nation’s tragedies are shared instantaneously by others.
Much has transpired in the brief few weeks since 11 September. I cannot begin to do justice to the unfolding complexity of the situation in this brief summary, but let me highlight several points relevant to the current discussion:
This brings me back to the theme of this paper. In our discussions in Birmingham, I used the following text to frame the issues. I believe that the text as I wrote it then remains a useful framework for understanding changes in American defense policy, supplemented by the thoughts I have added as a postscript to update events since 11 September. I look forward to our reconvening next year to continue the dialogue. May God’s peace and grace be with you.
Introduction (from the 1 August 2001 text).
Let me begin by stressing that I am not a U.S. government spokesman and that the following analysis is solely my own. U.S. foreign, security, and defense policy are in transition as I write, with many major decisions yet to be made. There are two excellent, official, publicly accessible web sites I recommend for those of you who want to follow the unfolding changes:http://usinfo.state.gov and http://www.defenselink.mil. If you access these sites you will be overwhelmed with material. The U.S. policy process is complex and many of the details have yet to be determined. What I hope to do in this paper is draw your attention to some of the central features and issues of the evolving debate and provide a context for our discussion. My oral presentation at Fircroft College on 1 September will update the paper where necessary.
Let me begin by noting that the George W. Bush administration—the twelfth modern American presidency (I count Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the first) and the second to take office since the end of the Cold War—is conducting its policy reviews in a reasonably transparent fashion. Of course there are a variety of restricted, internal studies underway and security considerations often come into play, but the basic questions being asked are largely a matter of record, a number of them stretching back to the presidential campaign of 1999-2000. As I said earlier, many of the hard decisions have yet to be made, much less vetted with the U.S. Congress, the upper house of which is controlled by the opposition party. What is emerging is the following.
The need for change in American defense policy (prior to 11 September).
There is a premise widely shared across political lines in the United States that the need for redirection of American defense policy is compelling and that change should not be deferred or delayed. Change in this area is not easy. The Defense Department estimates, for instance, that the U.S. military infrastructure (bases and the like) probably is on the order of 25% larger than required for today’s forces (much of the basing infrastructure was established in World War II). Closing a base is a highly contested process since it impacts on the employment and prosperity of its local community and thus has a high political profile. As for the military forces themselves, they continue in many ways to resemble the forces of the Cold War. The problems the Defense Department has run into with its proposal to retire 33 B-1 bombers to pay for improvements in the remaining 60 hint at larger problems down the road. Still, while experts in the two political parties as well as independent analysts may disagree on what changes should occur and while individual politicians will fight to protect the interests of their constituents, none that I am aware of are satisfied with the current state of affairs.
Incremental adjustment has been underway for the last ten years. In 1991, for instance, the former Bush administration, with Dick Cheney (today’s Vice President, then the Secretary of Defense) and Colin Powell (today’s Secretary of State, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ), conducted a Base Force Review to address how to restructure America’s post-Cold War armed forces. That, and a series of comparable internal studies of the U.S. nuclear posture, led to actions in 1991 and 1992 that set in motion a process of incremental change.
During the Clinton presidency (January 1993-January 2001), the Defense Department conducted the Bottom-Up Review (1993), the Nuclear Posture Review (1994), and the first Quadrennial Defense Review (1997). A series of high-level external study groups—e.g., the bipartisan commissions on Roles and Missions, National Security in the 21st Century, Ballistic Missile Threats, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Maintaining Nuclear Weapons Expertise, Space—added their views. Inside the Pentagon, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the mid-1990s produced an important planning document called "Joint Vision 2010." All of this was prelude to the current policy debate in the United States. A host of new studies have been initiated by the Bush administration. Some are required by legislation, some are internally generated. Several dozen have been underway for the past several months in one shape or form. The Defense Strategy Review is one name you will hear as the master study which draws together the other inputs; another name (that I will discuss at greater length later in the paper) is the Quadrennial Defense Review (often referred to as the QDR). I caution the reader not to get too focused on the organization or structure of what currently is underway. In fact there are many policy reviews going on in Washington, involving many different agencies. Redirection of U.S. defense policy will be influenced by a number of factors, including the general limitations of scarce resources, available technologies, and existing geostrategic challenges. In the June 2001 issue of Strategic Comments published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, it was noted that "the scope for radical change in US defence policy is limited by budgetary constraints and continuing strategic imperatives." I agree but also caution that you should not rule out the possibility that the Bush administration may set in motion a process which, over time, fundamentally reorients American defense policy for the 21st century.
Before getting to some of the specific issues being addressed, let me add a word about the evolving American perspective on the threat environment, which of course is directly related to what is required in the way of armed forces and the policy and doctrine for their use. I cannot overemphasize the point that notwithstanding sharp differences among many factions in the ongoing American debate, there is remarkable consensus about the type of security environment emerging over the next twenty-five years or so. Last year a QDR Working Group was convened at the National Defense University in Washington DC. As one of its first tasks, the Working Group surveyed some three dozen major defense studies done in the U.S. since 1996. It found the following shared assumptions concerning the security environment facing the U.S. from 2001-2025:
This consensus is consistent with the findings of another major study completed last year—the Global Trends 2015 project conducted by the American National Foreign Intelligence Board under authority of the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet (whose tenure has been extended into the new administration and who reportedly has developed a close working relationship with the new president). You can find the Global Trends 2015 paper on the web atwww.cia.gov/cia/publications).
The anti-access and asymmetric strategies imputed to American’s potential adversaries, and the increasing WMD threat to American and coalition forces abroad and to the homelands of the United States and its potential coalition partners, are important catalysts in the American debate to the need for change. Anti-access strategies are those that might be adopted by regional powers (e.g., Iraq or Iran in a future Gulf confrontation, China in a confrontation over Taiwan) to deter the United States from intervening in a regional crisis. Asymmetric strategies are those designed to render American military power indecisive or irrelevant, e.g., to create divisions between the U.S. and its alliance or coalition partners, to defeat or degrade American precision intelligence and attack capabilities, to increase American and allied casualties, to threaten the American homeland or the territories of its allies and coalition partners.
I anticipate that much of our discussion will return to this issue of perception of the likely future threats, since one of the most frequent criticisms of American ballistic missile defense plans is that they rely on exaggerated threat analysis (a criticism with which I disagree). For purposes of this survey paper, let me merely note the difference of opinion and move on. We can return to it in dialogue.
Politics of changing defense policy (prior to 11 September).
When the United States inaugurates a new president after a national election, there typically follows a sweeping review of American foreign, security, and defense policy, accompanied by a change in officials at the cabinet and sub-cabinet level and readjustments of the federal budget. The reviews and personnel changes normally take the better part of the first year to complete. Most of the major budget changes do not take place until the second year of a new administration.
The scope of change is influenced by whether the new president represents a party that has been out of office. Of the twelve modern American presidents, six have been Democrats and six Republicans. The United States does not have a parliamentary system and even when the transition involves a new president of the same party (as took place, for instance, when the elder George Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in 1989), change is the order of the day. This poses challenges to continuity, especially continuity in foreign and defense policy, and there periodically have been calls in the United States to reform the American system to allow for a single six-year term for the president. Such proposals (which ultimately would require a constitutional amendment) have failed in the past and are not part of the current discussion.
The transition this year follows a presidential election that was decided by one of the narrowest margins in American history and even then, only after a bitter, highly contentious challenge to the vote count requiring the unprecedented intervention of the Supreme Court. Whatever the lingering bitterness of the election, I think I am on firm ground in asserting that there is no major dispute going on in the United States at the present time on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. The American people have accepted the outcome of the election and are moving on.
The contested election did delay the start of forming a new government—a process already rendered slow by the growth during the past quarter century of rules, laws, and practices that constrain how a newly elected president can form the new government. Many American political pundits argued that the closeness of the election would dampen incentives for change. That view was not universal, however. Shortly before President Bush’s inauguration in January 2001, in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Senator Jesse Helms (Republican from North Carolina and, at the time, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) predicted: "We cannot, and must not, ignore the fact that something has changed in Washington. For the first time in five decades, Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. And that means Republicans can have an unprecedented opportunity to set the policy agenda—especially in the realm of foreign affairs. We must, and we will, seize that opportunity."
The Bush White House, with the veteran Dick Cheney in a highly visible position, chose a seasoned national security team (Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice), retained the sitting Director of the CIA (George Tenet) and the sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (although he is scheduled to retire shortly), and moved out briskly on a number of policy fronts—domestic and foreign—as if the president had been elected with a sweeping mandate for change. That strategy was pursued notwithstanding the narrow ten-vote margin the Republicans held in the House of Representatives and a
Senate that initially was evenly divided, fifty-fifty, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote.
Republican control of the Senate ended in June 2001 when former Republican Senator James Jeffords of Vermont changed his political affiliation to Independent and indicated he would caucas with the Democratic Party. Senate leadership passed to the Democrats on 6 June. This was widely seen as shifting the power back toward the center, with implications for how defense changes would be executed. Even if the Senate had remained in Republican hands, however, the close margins in both houses assured that in such areas as authorizing and appropriating defense funds, confirming national security appointments, advising and consenting to treaties, and exercising oversight responsibilities, the American Congress would have to be a major partner in change Indeed, two of the major activities that set the pace and give structure to the current American defense debate—the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)—are mandated by legislation. The outcome of both will be subjected to close congressional scrutiny.
For purposes of this paper, the important point to make is that given the terrain of American domestic politics, it remains far too early to predict what lasting changes in foreign, security, and defense policy will in fact emerge. Some American political commentators anticipate massive change. For instance, Charles Krauthammer has recently written: "Today, the United States remains the preeminent economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural power on a scale not seen since the fall of the Roman empire….The wish to maintain, augment, and exploit that predominance is what distinguishes the new foreign policy of the Bush administration." Kauthammer goes on to claim that the United States wants to restore its freedom of action and maintain preeminence in order to "enforce the peace by acting, uniquely, as the balancer of last resort…[and] as the world’s foremost anti-proliferator," and to "extend the peace by spreading democracy and free institutions."
This is a clear statement of one extreme view. It may be the view of some in the administration but it is far from a consensus nor, perhaps most importantly, is it clear that it represents the personal view of the president. Another pole in the debate is summarized nicely by Professor G. John Ikenberry (currently at Georgetown University), who—writing in the spring 2001 issue of a leading American periodical, The National Interes—points out that the United States is a unique kind of hegemon, one that after World War II built a "stakeholder" hegemony and, Ikenberry argues, can do so again today. Ikenberry notes that the American political tradition includes the rule of law, constitutional principles, inclusive institutions for political participation, and the view that the wealthy and powerful should operate within principled institutional parameters. His thesis is twofold: the American political process adjusts to the legitimate views of others, and stability is best pursued over time by institutional bargains that are constantly renewed and made more encompassing. A similar thesis has been argued at greater length by Eugene V. Rostow in his book Toward Managed Peace: The National Security Interests of the United States, 1759 to the Present.
Does the Senate’s rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the position taken by the new Bush administration on the Kyoto pact and the international criminal court, the desire to create a new framework that goes beyond the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, rejection of a draft protocol to the biological weapons convention, amendments demanded to an international agreement on small arms, threatening not to attend an international conference on racism, and the like indicate that the United States is abandoning multilateralism, to make its way unilaterally in the world? Does the United States have a new agenda that excludes the views of other nations, especially its allies who were critical "stakeholders" in the past? François Heisbourg has been quoted in the American press, on the eve of President Bush’s first trip to Europe, as saying: "The window of indecision as to the specific content of the Bush administration’s missile defence policy will not remain open much longer. The time [for Europeans] to influence policy is now (emphasis added)." Heisbourg appears to believe that the era of "stakeholder" hegemony is not yet dead, as do other respected European commentators on American affairs like Josef Joffe. Certainly America’s continued interest in close collaboration with its allies as it shapes new security policies was a central theme carried to the North Atlantic Council foreign ministers’ meeting in Budapest in May, the defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels in June, and President Bush’s first two trips to Europe—trips that had been preceeded by special diplomatic teams dispatched to consult on missile defenses.
I believe that the evolving foreign policy debate in the United States is far too complicated to be explained in simple unilateralist terms. The United States remains party to roughly 10,000 international agreements, most of which never make the news. U.S. representatives attend hundreds of international conferences, and with Colin Powell’s persuasive advocacy, there is a good chance that congress will agree to strengthen the mechanisms of American diplomacy. The new director of policy planning at the State Department, Richard Haas, is quoted as coining the phrase ‘á la carte multilateralism’ to describe the administration’s basic approach. That is an awkwardly worded but fairly accurate characterization of the diplomacy of the new administration thus far.
I am sure this will be one of our topics for discussion in Birmingham, and I highlight it early in this paper because it is so central to the question of what kind of defense policy the United States intends to pursue. We can return to it in discussion.
The U.S. defense budget (prior to 11 September).
The timelines for changing U.S. defense policy are established in large part by the structure of the American budget process. Currently, America spends slightly over $300 billion a year on defense, amounting to about 3 percent of America’s GDP (down from percentage rates that were two to three times as high during the Cold War). America devotes as much to defense as the world’s next eight powers combined.
Ideally, adjustments to the defense budget reflect the decisions made on a new defense policy and strategy. The budget timetables thus are important elements of the policy review. The American federal fiscal year ends on 30 September. When President Bush took office on 21 January 2001, he inherited a Clinton defense budget for the current fiscal year (FY 2001) and the former administration’s proposal to congress for FY 2002. Over the past twenty-four months or so, a widely held view has emerged in the American defense community that there is a mismatch between American defense strategy and resources estimated at between $30 billion and $50 billion per year. There are several ways to deal with such a shortfall: e.g., increase resources, change strategy, accept the risks of a mismatch, transform the military to make it more capable, or (most likely) some political compromise involving elements of each approach.
Based on its initial assessment of the matter, the Bush administration already has proposed relatively modest adjustments to the FY 2001 and 2002 defense budgets. On 1 June, President Bush sent Congress a $5.9 billion supplemental request to make up for shortfalls in the FY 2001 budget; $5.6 billion of this request was slated for the Defense Department (much of it to go to pay and benefits and to readiness training and operations). On 22 June, the Defense Department announced that the president’s budget amendment for the FY 2002 budget would raise defense spending to $329 billion—an increase of $18 billion over the request that went to congress in February. Reportedly, the Defense Department had asked for $35 billion, the Office of Management and Budget cut the request to $15 billion, and the White House settled on $18 billion. Whether congress will approve even that amount remains unclear, especially in light of the president’s tax cut of $1.35 trillion and the fear that it will shrink the size of the U.S. budget surplus.
For purposes of this discussion, it is worth noting that the combined requests for additional funding in FY 2001 and 2002 are far short of the $30 billion to $50 billion annual deficits discussed earlier and are not the products of a thorough review of strategy. The real opportunity to impact the defense budget will come with the FY 2003 budget request which will go to Congress early next year. That means that strategic decisions must be made this summer.
In order to reshape the debate for the FY 2003 budget, the Pentagon is stepping up the pace of its reviews. On 14 June, a senior defense spokesman announced that Secretary Rusmfeld had directed the department to accelerate the QDR to finish it in time to use the results in forming the FY 2003 budget. The full QDR report will be delivered to the Congress by 30 September; however to affect the FY 2003 defense budget, Pentaton planners need the results by August. That appears to be the plan.
I will not attempt to speculate on the outcome of the ongoing, fast-paced decision process. Secretary Rumsfeld and his senior subordinates discuss it almost every day, in congressional testimony or in comments to the media. If decisions are made public prior to our meeting in September, I will incorporate them in the presentation. I wish to devote the remainder of this paper to some of the major issues under discussion. And the appropriate place to begin is with the presidential campaign of 1999 and 2000.
The Bush administration vision for change (prior to 11 September).
President George W. Bush laid out a vision for change in a number of speeches given during the presidential campaign. I would draw your attention especially to his speeches at The Citadel (23 September 1999), at the Reagan Presidential Library (19 November 1999), and in Washington DC (23 May 2000). President Bush reportedly took office with three defense goals in mind: to strengthen the bond of trust with the American military, to protect the American people both from attack and threats of terror, and to build a military that takes advantage of remarkable new technologies to confront the new threats of the 21st century. At the heart of the new administration’s plan for redirecting defense was a vision of a new concept of deterrence that embraces missile defense—something I will discuss at length in a moment. Thus far the President’s defense agenda has been outlined in fairly general terms, e.g., in his speech at the American National Defense University (1 May 2001), in his graduation address at the Naval Academy (25 May 2001), and in his comments during his two trips to Europe. Most details await the outcome of the ongoing reviews.
Even if the details are lacking, however, a general direction is clear. In his remarks at his Pentagon welcoming ceremony in late January, the new Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, listed the five key objectives he intended to pursue:
And in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on 21 June—his first testimony before congress since his confirmation hearings—Secretary Rumsfeld further identified four defense goals that the new strategy must support:
There are a number of themes associated with the changing defense policy, and while I would be happy to pursue in discussion any area you wish to raise, in this paper I will focus on three areas: missile defense (and all it entails for nuclear strategy and for arms control); military transformation; and alliances.
Missile defense (prior to 11 September).
If there is a single theme that symbolizes the new strategic vision of the Bush administration, it is a determination to deploy missile defenses for homeland as well as theater defense. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic (ABM) treaty stands in the way. That treaty prohibits the United States from deploying ABM systems for defense of its territory (article I); from developing or testing of ABM systems or components that are sea-based, space-based, or mobile land-based (article V); and from sharing any such defenses with other states (article IX). The urge to transcend the ABM treaty and to create a ‘new framework’ (the phrase used by the administration) is at the heart of the debate on nuclear strategy and the future of nuclear arms control.
I will not in this paper recount the history or the details of what led to the current situation. Much of that is included in the paper I presented at the international CCADD conference last year, available on the CCADD website. Thus far, the Bush administration has not settled on the details of the missile defense it prefers, other than to outline a layered approach of defeating ballistic missiles at different phases of their flight, with several technical options being explored for each phase (almost any testing requires relief from the treaty). The trips to Europe earlier this year by President Bush and his senior defense team focused on the broad rationale for missile defense. On 16 June, in a meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Presidents Bush and Putin commenced high level discussions on the matter, and on 22 July, in Genoa, Italy, on the margins of the G-8 summit, the two presidents released a joint statement:
We agreed that major changes in the world require concrete discussions of both offensive and defensive systems. We already have some strong and tangible points of agreements. We will shortly begin intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects of offensive and defensive systems.
Condi Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, then went to Moscow to help set the schedule for high-level talks. Those talks currently are underway, at a very fast pace.
The broad objections raised by critics of missile defense are well known: it is not needed, some say (they argue the threat is exaggerated); it is too expensive; it will not work; it cannot be achieved without destabilizing international relations (i.e., triggering arms races with Russia and China, and potentially unraveling the intricate network of Cold War treaties—the ABM Treaty, INF, START, the NPT). I am sure we will revisit all of these issues in our discussion. I believe that none of the objections are insurmountable.
For the moment, however, let me focus on the directions being taken in the current defense review instead of discussing the merits of the issues. First, the Bush administration has indicated determination to build and deploy missile defenses. This is part of a broader strategy for homeland defense and for engaging Russia on nuclear arms reductions. As already noted, an intense U.S.-Russian dialogue is underway. Spokesmen for the Bush administration have chosen their words carefully when asked what they would do if this dialogue fails to provide the new framework for deployment of limited missile defenses that they seek. For the moment, the intent appears to make the discussions work. China is not party to the ABM treaty but has registered its resistance in no uncertain terms. The administration strategy for dealing with Chinese objections if they are sustained remains unclear. The president is scheduled to make his first trip to China in October.
From the start, many analysts felt that if a grand compromise could be reached on missile defense, it would involve offensive arms as well (something the Russians had hinted at for several years). Even prior to the Ljubljana summit, the U.S. had begun a review of its offensive nuclear posture. During the campaign, then-candidate George Bush suggested that nuclear reductions could be taken unilaterally, instead of waiting for the conclusion of a new arms control agreement. He did qualify his remarks by suggesting that the reductions would be made in the context of a revised U.S. nuclear strategy. That revision currently is underway. Prior to the presidential election, Congress required that a new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) should be conducted, with a report to congress by December 2001. The NPR was to consider at least the following elements:
At the U.S. National Defense University on 1 May 2001, President Bush laid out the major directions for America’s evolving nuclear deterrent policy:
We need new concepts of deterrence that rely on both offensive and defensive forces. Deterrence can no longer be based solely on the threat of nuclear retaliation. Defenses can strengthen deterrence by reducing the incentive for proliferation.
We need a new framework that allows us to build missile defenses to counter the different threats of today’s world. To do so, we must move beyond the constraints of the 30 year old ABM Treaty. This treaty does not recognize the present, or point us to the future. It enshrines the past. No treaty that prevents us from addressing today’s threats, that prohibits us from pursuing promising technology to defend ourselves, our friends and our allies is in our interests or in the interests of world peace.
The new framework must encourage still further cuts in nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons still have a vital role to play in our security and that of our allies. We can, and will, change the size, the composition, the character of our nuclear forces in a way that reflects the reality that the Cold War is over.
I am committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest-possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs, including our obligations to our allies. My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces. The United States will lead by example to achieve our interests and the interests for peace in the world.
I will not discuss the NPR at any length since it still is underway and, understandably given the subject matter, involves a number of sensitive, highly classified issues. The White House already has requested congressional relief from the legislative mandate that the U.S. remain at START I levels until START II enters into force. This would allow the U.S. to do such things as retire its 50 Peacekeeper (MX) missiles and reduce the number of Trident boats it retains from 18 to 14—two actions recommended by the 1994 NPR. Whether congress will agree remains undecided (although the chances are high).
This is a very complicated issue to which I could devote pages. I will update the presentation with details if and when they become available, and would be happy to elaborate in discussion. For now, however, let me merely note that one of the most fundamental redirections of U.S. defense policy—indeed, of U.S. grand strategy—is intertwined with this broad issue of missile defense. In order to work the international politics of missile defense, the administration appears to have made a fundamental decision to reorient U.S. relations with Russia and to begin immediately to treat Russia more like Britain and France (two nuclear countries and one-time enemies of the United States, currently allies) than like a potential adversary. How that will translate into broader issues in U.S.-Russian relations—e.g., the future of cooperative threat reduction programs—remains unclear.
A second grand strategic dimension to this issue is China and the Chinese response to U.S. missile defenses. I will defer discussion of that for the moment, addressing it in the section on alliances.
Third, there is the question of U.S. nuclear commitments to its allies, and of NATO nuclear strategy in general. The United States already has commenced intensive consultations in NATO and Asia on its evolving policies. For the moment, there is little formal change. For instance, when NATO’s Defense Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group met in ministerial session in Brussels on 7 June, the final communiqué "reaffirmed the continuing validity of the fundamentally political purpose and the principles underpinning the nuclear forces of the Allies as set out in the Alliance’s 1999 Strategic Concept." It remains unclear how NATO will adapt the nuclear dimension of its strategic concept as the next NATO summit approaches, if the fast-paced U.S-Russian talks produce constructive results.
Finally, there is the issue of nuclear proliferation and its relationship to the U.S.-Russian arms control framework left over from the Cold War. Again, I could devote pages to this topic but will for brevity’s sake defer it to discussion.
Defense transformation (prior to 11 September).
The phrase ‘defense transformation’ means different things to different people. Some identify it narrowly with issues of force structure, e.g., how many army divisions should there and how should they be equipped, should manned aircraft be replaced with unarmed combat aerial vehicles, has the aircraft carrier outlived its usefulness? Others identify it with broader strategic questions, e.g., should the U.S. seek to retain its current level of forces deployed forward or should it reconfigure to more mobile forces located in the continental United States? To some it is predominantly forward-looking, e.g., incorporating telecommunication and information technologies into U.S. forces and doctrines. To others it is organizational, e.g., moving beyond the Goldwater-Nichols reforms to more fully integrate American armed forces. The list could go on.
In this paper, I will discuss ‘defense transformation’ broadly. In one sense, the U.S. military was transforming itself throughout the Cold War in terms of force structure, technology, organization, doctrine, and the like. That process continues today. In another sense, transformation is something that seeks to take advantage of that much-abused phrase, ‘revolution in military affairs’, the current phase of which involves information and telecommunication technologies, with future phases likely in areas such as materials science and nanotechnologies. It appears that the current debate in the Pentagon draws on virtually all elements of the defense transformation idiom. Let me give some examples.
I already have mentioned a very important document from the past ten years, "Joint Vision 2010." When this was issued several years ago, it advertised itself as a conceptual template for how America’s armed forces should "channel the vitality and innovation of our people and leverage technological opportunities to achieve new levels of effectiveness in joint warfighting." The vision of future warfare laid out in the document embodied improvements in intelligence and command and control available in the information age, seeking to develop four operational concepts that would guide U.S. military operations: (1) dominant maneuver; (2) precision engagement; (3) full dimensional protection; and (4) focused logistics. Much of the debate over modernizing U.S. non-nuclear forces revolved around what these concepts mean for force structure and operations. I could pick many examples to illustrate the concept; one of the more striking involves American B-2 operations during the 1999 NATO operations in the Balkans.
Several of the studies recently completed are part of the ongoing review to address transformation. One such study was chaired by U.S. General Jim McCarthy, USAF (retired). The results of this study were released on 12 June in a Pentagon briefing. Let me merely repeat the points in the ninth vugraph of the briefing, to convey a sense of the scope of issues involved:
Much of the current debate on this view of transformation revolves around the issues of technology and how they might be integrated into military strategy and doctrine (including the limitations and constraints). But there are other elements to the debate as well. Another study initiated in the Rumsfeld Pentagon was led by Admiral David Jeremiah, USN (retired), a former vice chairman of the JCS, on morale and quality of life in the military. In his Pentagon briefing on 13 June which reported on the results of this study, Admiral Jeremiah discussed the prospect of fundamentally changing the personnel system in the United States military in all its dimensions—promotion policies, retirement policies, and so forth. Many American defense analysts have argued for years that the strength of the American military was the quality of its people. American military life changed dramatically after the Cold War. In one of the more telling sets of statistics cited by the Jeremiah panel, it was pointed out that U.S. army deployments were up 300% in the past ten years, the navy deployed its ships on any given day at a rate 52% higher than during the Cold War, the calls for marine corps responses to crises had tripled, and air force deployments had quadrupled since 1986. How to attract and retain high quality soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen under such conditions is very much a part of the transformation debate.
On 22 June, the RAND corporation—one of the federally funded research and development organizations in the U.S.—issued the results of its study on conventional forces. The RAND study recommended that the highest conventional-force investment priorities of the Defense Department should be concentrated in five areas: (1) enabling future ground forces; (2) long-range and quick-response strike; (3) intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), joint command and control (C2), information operations (IO); (4) space systems; and (5) lift. On 10 July, Stephen Friedman, chairman of the board of trustees of Columbia University and retired chairman of Goldman Sachs & Company, briefed at the Pentagon on the results of the study he led on transforming Department of Defense financial management. And the list goes on of studies made public and those kept private (e.g., Andy Marshall’s highly publicized but unbriefed review).
The point to make for purposes of this paper is that all of these activities represent inputs to the deliberations underway in the Defense Department under Donald Rumsfeld’s supervision; none represent decisions by Rumsfeld at this point, much less approval by the president. The studies are brought together in the ongoing QDR, and Rumsfeld personally is engaging at the top with the chairman and vice chairman of the joint chiefs, the service chiefs and the senior combatant commanders as the QDR proceeds. The terms of reference for the QDR are classified so it is difficult for an outside observer to sort out what studies are most important at the moment.
I will not try to speculate on the outcome of the QDR. If decisions are made and announced prior to our meeting, I will add them to my comments. Let me merely observe at this point that keeping the American armed forces strong is one of the priorities of the Bush administration, but that hard choices are ahead, driven by limited budgets, congressional politics, and the reactions of the world to what may be seen as destabilizing actions (e.g., if the U.S. opts to place weapons in space).
Alliances (prior to 11 September).
Let me conclude this paper by briefly addressing what appears to be the role of alliances in the evolving U.S. defense policy. America’s premier alliance remains NATO. President Bush’s opening statement at the gathering of NATO heads of state and government in Brussels in June left no doubt that the United States considered NATO to be essential to peace and stability in the world. The broad outlines of America’s views on the matter were concise: "We must strengthen our alliance, modernize our forces and prepare for new threats. We must expand cooperation with our partners, including Russia and the Ukraine. And we must extend our hands and open our hearts to new members, to build security for all of Europe."
Perhaps the greatest challenge that NATO may face in the next several years is not missile defense, redirection of nuclear strategyh, NATO enlargement (as currently understood), or NATO’s relationship to the evolving military arm of the European Union. The most daunting issue may be NATO’s relation to Russia, which in its most expansive form could involve Russia eventually becoming a member of NATO (far beyond the partnership for peace arrangement). There is nothing I am aware of in the evolving policies of the Bush administration which rules this out categorically, and—if the current offense-defense discussions do lead to a major reorientation of Russia’s relationship with the West—is a potential next step.
Some Americans have argued that America’s most significant future security challenges lie in Asia, where the new Bush administration thus far has been maneuvering quite delicately. American alliance structure in Asia traditionally has been largely bilateral (SEATO and ANZUS notwithstanding), through mechanisms such as the formal treaties with Japan and South Korea, or through more indirect relations like that specified in the Taiwan Relations Act. Unlike Europe, where a ‘democratic peace’ (to use a concept current in international relations theory) has emerged among the great powers and appears to have staying power, the major nations of Asia continue to treat one another as strategic rivals. America remains engaged in Asia to help stabilize the situation.
Even if Asia does not displace Europe in America defense planning, it is clear world peace and security will be defined in the next century largely by the direction that China takes. For over twenty years now, China has had a thriving economy. While its military modernization has been modest, it is slow and continuous. China’s military capabilities, combined with Chinese interests which clash with those of the United States, have obvious implications for American defense planning. A great debate simmers in the U.S. on how China should be treated —as an aggressor to be contained or as an emerging power to be embraced. The Bush administration, with different style and priorities but with no less sensitivity to the issue than the Clinton administration, is approaching this question cautiously, as evidenced in its reactions to the EP-3 affair. In his recent trip to China, Secretary of State Colin Powell carefully avoided the phrase ‘strategic competitor’ (which earlier had been used to contrast with the Clinton administration’s one-time characterization of China as a ‘strategic partner’). In his press conference in Beijing on 28 July, Secretary Powell said:
With respect to stability in the relationship between China and the United States, we are doing many things. My presence here today is an example of trying to let the world see that we are not enemies and we are not looking for an enemy. We are looking for ways to cooperate. We are looking for ways to move forward in a positive manner.
On the one hand, this could be dismissed as standard diplomatic language. It appears, however, to reflect something more fundamental—namely, a caution that China is a growing power and that the U.S. is hedging against several futures. The most immediate security concern, of course, is Taiwan, but even if Taiwan were taken off the table, China’s future policies toward peace and security in the region are unclear. The emerging American defense policy for the region is suggested by the visit to Canberra by Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, immediately after Powell’s China trip, to attend a Autstralian-U.S. ministerial conference. If China evolves so that something like containment is needed in Asia, America’s security relationships with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines will be an important element of the American response. How this will unfold remains to be seen.
Concluding observations (prior to 11 September).
There obviously is much I have left out of this discussion, e.g,, policies toward the so-called ‘rogue’ states, the drug war in Colombia, peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention. Those are obvious candidates for discussion. What I have attempted to capture is a sense of the ongoing debates in Washington and the major redirection that American defense policy may take in the coming months. As stated many times in this paper, I am dealing with a moving target. I will update the paper as appropriate in my comments at Fircroft College on 1 September.
Postscript (changing directions in American defense policy since 11 September).
Important aspects of American defense policy changed dramatically after 11 September, initially as an emergency response to the immediate dangers and then as a more measured shift in priorities and missions. For instance, military aircraft now are patrolling American airspace, assisted by warning and control aircraft from NATO, with rules of engagement that would permit shooting down hijacked civilian passenger aircraft in extremis. American armed forces now routinely patrol U.S. airports. An international expeditionary force has been mobilized and deployed for combat operations in Afghanistan, in support of an offensive aimed at ending Taliban support for the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan, disrupting whatever planning was ongoing for future terrorist actions, and bringing Ossama bin-Laden and his associates to justice. This effort includes basing in several Central Asian countries with the consent, if not active support, of Russia—something almost unthinkable before 11 September. As this paper is being written, an international conference is about to convene in Bonn to discuss the future of Afghanistan.
All this is taking place within a much larger international response aimed at drying up sources of terrorist funding, sharing information about terrorism more fully across borders and among agencies, tightening and expanding anti-terrorist laws, more effectively controlling borders, and the like. It also takes place within a broad campaign (in which Anglo-American actions appear to be increasingly coordinated) to try to insure that the war does not become a clash between Islam and the West.
The American political process has been shifting and while the priorities for funding prior to 11 September no longer appear to apply, it also is unclear how the new American defense programs will be funding over the longer term. An initial $40 billion emergency supplemental to respond to the terrorist attacks still is in the process of being earmarked for various activities, and may well prove inadequate, even for the initial response. Emergency plans to fight bioterrorism (which many experts interpret to require dramatic improvements in the public health system) add tens of billions of dollars more in requirements. Since 11 September, American federal agencies reportedly have asked the White House for $127 billion to recover from the assault and to improve security. State and local governments also are spending billions of dollars on security, not previously budget for. Military operations in Afghanistan alone are estimated to cost on the order of $1 billion a month, and the cost of humanitarian aid and rebuilding Afghanistan adds billions more. All this is taking place while the U.S. and the global economies slip into recession. Within this complex milieu, the White House must take a number of difficult budget decisions. Some commentators suggest that the American defense budget will increase by on the order of $15 billion a year for the next two fiscal years. That remains to be seen.
It was clear after 11 September that the U.S. government and military were not effectively organized for homeland defense. On 8 October, President Bush issued an executive order that established a new Office of Homeland Security and a Homeland Security Council, under the leadership of Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania. This organization, which still is evolving, is intended to act as a counterpart to the existing National Security Council where a new senior official for counterterrorism—retired army General Wayne Downing—has been appointed. How effective the reorganized government structure can be in coordinating the actions of several dozen federal departments and agencies—and in coordinating federal activities with those of state and local governments—is unclear. Within the Pentagon, a dialogue is underway on possible changes to the Unified Command Plan, perhaps to give a single combatant commander responsibility for homeland defense (something currently fragmented across several commands). The question of what military forces should be dedicated to homeland defense—e.g., active duty forces, National Guard—is part of the ongoing dialogue. This is complicated by American laws such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, prohibiting military personnel from certain kinds of activities within the United States. Proposals have been made in Congress to revise the laws.
The two framing studies identified in the earlier paper—the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)—continue to be important parts of the equation. The QDR report was sent to Congress on 30 September 2001. In his cover letter to the report, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld observed:
The Quadrennial Defense Review and the accompanying report were largely completed before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States. In important ways, these attacks confirm the strategic direction and planning principles that resulted from this review, particularly its emphasis on homeland defense, on surprise, on preparing for asymmetric threats, on the need to develop new concepts of deterrence, on the need for a capabilities-based strategy, and on the need to balance deliberately the different dimensions of risk. However, the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 will require us to move forward more rapidly in these directions, even while we are engaged in the war against terrorism.
As for the NPR, the review is still underway; however, as part of the discussions between Presidents Bush and Putin in Washington and Texas on 13-15 November, President Bush announced a decision on one of the key elements of the NPR, namely, the size of the U.S. nuclear force, which will be reduced to 1700 to 2200 operationally deployed strategic warheads within a decade. President Putin stated that Russia would try to respond in kind. Although the two leaders continue to have different views of the ABM Treaty and strategic defenses, they stressed that this is only one issue within a broader relationship and remained committed to continued consultations on a new strategic framework, "as true partners and friends, not adversaries." It appears in the aftermath of 11 September that the prospect of a stabilizing transition to some type of missile defense, accepted not only by Russia but also by China, is a more realistic possibility.
In summary, American defense policy remains in transition, albeit with a priority and an emphasis after 11 September much different than before. The long-term vision to be associated with these changes still is evolving.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in his speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on 22 October, said that "it is clear that the terrorist atrocities in the United States marked a transition in world affairs." Although his speech focused on the future of Afghanistan, it conveyed a broader theme—bringing order out of chaos in the 21st century. Increasingly, American foreign and defense policy appear to be conceptualized with something like that in mind.
Sir Michael Howard reminds us that "war appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention"—a quotation from the nineteenth-century jurist Sir Henry Maine, that Sir Michael uses to introduce his excellent recent essay, The Invention of Peace. Consensus among nation-states in favor of peace is a compelling vision, and the events of 11 September remind us how the views of governments can be transformed overnight by shocking events. Earlier I cited Eugene Rostow’s book Toward Managed Peace. Professor Rostow’s argument resounds powerfully to the events of 11 September, namely, "that the supreme security interest of the United States—the interest most worth fighting for—is an organized and effectively enforced system of general international peace: not a world order of Utopian perfection, but one in which the phenomenon of war is kept within tolerable limits by the cooperation of the states which constitute the world community, and especially of the major powers, or at least a decisive number of them."