Dr. Edward L. Warner,
Assistant Secretary of Defense
I am here today to speak about the integral role that the National Guard and Reserves play in carrying out our defense strategy and to describe to you in some detail the actions undertaken in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) with respect to the size and shape of Reserve component forces. But to understand the QDR's decisions on National Guard and Reserve forces, I must first say a few words about the QDR defense strategy and process itself.
An analysis of the international security environment undertaken in the opening stages of the QDR concluded that between now and 2015, the United States is in a period of strategic opportunity. Specifically, we do not foresee the emergence of a potential near-peer competitor over the next fifteen years. However, we do anticipate that the world will remain a dangerous and uncertain place, and the United States likely will face a number of significant challenges-including the threat of coercion and large-scale, cross-border aggression-between now and 2015.
The defense strategy articulated in the QDR seeks to take advantage of this strategic opportunity while addressing the dangers still inherent in the international environment. The strategy has three essential elements:
To ensure the success of this challenging strategy, we must draw on the integrated efforts of the whole U.S. military force: active, reserve, and civilian support. In the post-Cold War era, the Reserve component has remained a critical element of the Total Force, essential to carrying out the full spectrum of operations-from the smallest of smaller-scale contingency operations to major theater war. Guard and Reserve forces provide trained units and individuals to fight in wartime, to backfill active forces during times of crisis, and to support the wide range of DoD operations in peacetime. Reserve forces are part of all war plans. No major operation can be successful without them. As with the active component, the QDR strategy requires Reserve component units to be multi-mission capable, proficient in their core warfighting competencies and able to transition from peacetime activities and operations to enhanced deterrence in crises and, ultimately, to combat operations, should that prove necessary.
From the outset, Secretary Cohen insisted that our defense strategy drive the QDR process. Secretary Cohen and Deputy Secretary White also emphasized, however, the need for realism regarding assumptions about future resources. In particular, they stressed the need to have a fiscally-responsible analysis in order to produce a timely and relevant product. We thus constrained our view of alternatives, or paths, for fulfilling the defense strategy to those that were feasible within the projected level of defense spending over the next several years-roughly $250 billion in constant FY98 purchasing power annually. This figure accords with the joint Administration-Congressional commitment to balance the federal budget by 2002 and the recently concluded budget agreement.
Fulfilling the defense strategy requires substantial and ready forces, together with a focused program of investments to improve the equipment those forces will employ. Making difficult programmatic adjustments to improve the Department's financial posture mirrored the fundamental challenge of the strategy: how to strike the right balance between meeting urgent obligations in the present and investing in imperative modernization for the future. In particular, a focus of the QDR was to build a solid financial foundation for a modernization program that could reliably support the future warfighting capabilities called for by Joint Vision 2010. Consistent with this goal and the overall defense strategy, the QDR rebalanced defense resources to provide for a more stable and sustainable modernization program into the next century. At the same time, the QDR upholds the capability and readiness of the force in the nearer-term.
In parallel with the fiscal review, a full spectrum assessment of the force was conducted. The defense strategy required an assessment of more than just major theater wars that begin from a cold start, so the force structure assessment looked across the entire spectrum of anticipated operations-from military involvement in shaping activities through small scale contingencies to executing major theater wars from a posture of global engagement. The Department used a broad array of analytical tools in its assessment, including seminars, wargames, computer modeling, and intensive sessions involving senior civilian and military leaders and hundreds of others over more than four months. Based on these assessments, we now understand very clearly what demands are placed on our force. The force is, in fact, working hard-working hard to protect America's interests and to prevent regional crises from escalating.
But while the force assessment confirmed that U.S. forces are very busy, it also clarified that some parts of the force are more heavily committed than others. Using relevance of forces across the spectrum and current force utilization as guides, we focused on force structure options that could fully support the strategy.
Based on the defense strategy, fiscal environment, and full-spectrum force assessment, we built the three paths that are described in the QDR report. After a broad debate on the value of the paths, including consultation with senior Reserve component officials, the Department chose the path which most completely answered the QDR's fundamental challenge: to ensure U.S. armed forces are able to meet the demands of a dangerous world by shaping the international environment and responding to crises throughout the 1997-2015 period. The corresponding defense program delineated in the path required modest reductions in today's force structure- concentrated on the "tail" rather than the "teeth" of our forces-along with a commitment to fundamentally re-engineer the Department's infrastructure and support activities to fund badly needed increases in a focused, executable modernization program.
Across the Department, QDR actions affecting both military departments and Defense agencies will reduce active military end strength by 60,000 personnel, reserve end strength by about 55,000, and civilian personnel by 80,000. These reductions preserve the critical combat capabilities of our military forces and reduce infrastructure and support activities wherever prudent and possible. In making the needed reductions to force structure, we were very sensitive to the fragile nature of our all-volunteer force.
We sought to reduce the burden on our already busy active force by making modest reductions in our active combat and support structure. Those forces ultimately selected for reduction are the ones that are least used in the full spectrum of operations for which we currently prepare or anticipate over the 1997-2015 timeframe.
The Reserve component force reductions are also driven by relevance to the projected security environment. The defense strategy calls for wartime forces that are ready early, in anticipation of the short preparation time likely in future conflict. In peace, our commitments overseas call for forces that can deploy and remain for extended periods, the duration of which we will probably not know at the point of commitment.
The contraction in our civilian workforce will close the gap between force structure and infrastructure reductions, bringing the level of support personnel in line with the size of a post-Cold War military. While some reductions were already planned prior to the QDR, further cuts delineated in the Review will reduce infrastructure employment since 1989 by an additional 6 percent, a total decline of 39 percent.
These adjustments are difficult, but with them and the other initiatives of the QDR, the Department has struck a delicate balance between the near- and long-term demands within the resources we anticipate will be available. Again, I must stress that the QDR was strategy-based, but also fiscally-responsible.
In response to your concerns over the reserve reductions in the QDR, let me first say that sustained Reserve component participation occurred throughout the QDR process, at all levels of interaction. National Guard and Reserve senior leaders consulted regularly with OSD Reserve Affairs and senior service representatives to the QDR. Reserve component officers also reviewed and made substantive changes to QDR recommendations as they became known. In particular, the Mobilization Assistant to the Director, Joint Staff, a Reserve flag officer, was briefed periodically on force structure assessment and related issues, and field grade Reserve officers participated directly in a wide range of Service and Joint Staff deliberations.
Second, I cannot stress enough how essential the Reserve component is to the successful implementation of the defense strategy. Reserve component forces are part of every war plan. In peacetime, reservists provide unique skills in carrying out smaller-scale contingency operations and help relieve active units of some peacetime commitments to decrease active component personnel tempo and allow them to concentrate on higher priority tasks. For example, when President Clinton decided to use U.S. forces to help sustain peace in Bosnia, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units were mobilized and deployed to provide civil affairs, psychological operations, military police, and engineer support. Air Force Reserve component air crews flew hundreds of missions and other reservists provided critical back fill. Navy Seabees and Marine Reserve civil affairs personnel were also activated. Those parts of the reserve forces most relevant to the strategy were preserved and in some cases enhanced in the QDR.
The Marine Corps Reserve provides both peacetime and wartime augmentation to the active duty Marine Corps. In peacetime, Reserve units take on commitments that provide training for wartime tasks and also relieve active duty operating tempo. In wartime, Reserve units augment, reinforce, or backfill active duty units. Based on experience since 1993, a reduction of about 4,200 Marines in the Marine Corps Reserve is possible. The current plan is to reduce Reserve infrastructure through reductions in the number of active Reservists, individual mobilization augmentees, drilling Reservists, and active duty personnel who support the Reserves. The Marine Corps will conduct a study to determine the exact nature of these reductions and/or restructuring.
The QDR calls for a modest restructuring of Naval Reserve forces resulting in reductions of 4,100. While some additional Reserve personnel will be required to support the transfer of combat logistic force ships to the Military Sealift Command, other Reserve positions will be reduced due to the reduction of surface combatants and submarine tenders as well as the early withdrawal of the SH-2 helicopter from service. In addition, the Navy is recommending some cutbacks in overseas activities that will decrease the requirement for reservists assigned to base support.
The Air Force has the most integrated Total Force on a day-to-day basis. This is especially true of its mobility force associate units, where Reserve tanker and airlift personnel often work side-by-side with their active counterparts, even sharing the same aircraft. A large percentage of Air Force mobility and support missions, in peacetime and in war, are flown by Reserve personnel. The Reserve fighter force has also been used extensively in many peacetime missions. However, some enhancements can be made. One initiative will standardize Reserve fighter units at 15 aircraft, keeping operations and support costs down. The Air Force is also changing the mission mix of its Reserve fighters. Six of the ten air defense squadrons will convert to the general purpose mission, leaving four squadrons for air defense. In addition, older aircraft will be retired and replaced by aircraft transferred from the active force. Including the changes in missions, the net result is little change in total numbers of Reserve component fighters, but a significant increase in Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve capability and flexibility.
For the Army National Guard, the Bottom-Up Review (BUR) identified a need for Army combat forces beyond the 10 active divisions in case major theater wars proved more difficult than foreseen or unexpected circumstances arose that required additional ground forces. As a result, the BUR directed the creation of 15 National Guard brigades-known as the enhanced Separate Brigades (eSBs)-to be maintained at a higher level of readiness. The QDR reaffirmed the continuing need for these brigades, and the program to create these eSBs is almost complete. They will provide added ground power for the second theater war and an important hedge against adverse circumstances, in particular the failure to halt the enemy quickly before extensive friendly territory is lost, by augmenting or reinforcing active combat units.
Reductions to the National Guard are made possible by the changes in the security environment since the end of the Cold War. Specifically, the QDR projects that no major power will have both the will and capability to threaten the United States on a global scale before 2010, and potential threats after that are very uncertain. Therefore, the need for a large strategic reserve has declined, as noted by the Commission on Roles and Missions. We need to modernize our military for the 21st century, keeping it at a high level of readiness in order to respond to crises, support shaping activities-including providing overseas presence, and reorganized to improve OPTEMPO/ PERSTEMPO and the availability of low-density, high-demand capabilities and units. Trimming the Guard force structure enables us to reinvest in all these areas.
Nevertheless, the Army National Guard divisions must be prepared to contribute to several key missions, including: providing rear-area security in theater, backfilling in Europe and in ongoing smaller-scale contingency operations, supporting the rapid deployment of active units and the mobilization of eSBs, and supporting state missions.
The QDR also reviewed other potential missions for National Guard divisions, taking as a starting point the QDR strategy and the projected security environment. The QDR endorses the other missions for National Guard divisions that includes providing Combat Support/Combat Service Support (CS/CSS). Army total analysis of support requirements in two major theater wars reveals a large CS/CSS shortfall. Some of these requirements could be filled by realigning existing CS/CSS units, but a significant shortfall still remains. Attempting to fill this gap, the Secretary of the Army determined in 1996 that 12 National Guard brigades from within the 8 ARNG divisions would be converted from combat units to CS/CSS units. The QDR accelerates the planned completion of the CS/CSS conversion program by using savings from proposed reductions in Guard personnel. This conversion will greatly increase the relevance of these forces.
Taking these missions into consideration, the QDR determined that the strategy could be supported by a somewhat smaller Army Reserve and National Guard. The analysis indicated that a total Army Reserve component reduction of 45,000 personnel would be appropriate. Some of the savings from these reductions will be applied to the combat support/combat service support conversion programs aimed at making the remaining units more effective in carrying out their missions. When these reductions are completed, the Army Reserve components will have been reduced 32 percent from Cold War levels, compared with a 38 percent reduction in the active Army end strength.
In closing, the integration of the Reserve components into the Total Force remains a bedrock of our defense posture and a major success story for the Department. Our defense strategy is dependent on their contributions across the spectrum of operations. We will continue to evaluate the Total Force, refining the defense program, where necessary and within projected resources, to ensure our ability to shape, respond, and prepare over the foreseeable future.