Report on the BOTTOM-UP REVIEW
Les Aspin, Secretary of Defense
October 1993

Section II

The requirement to thwart new dangers and seize new opportunities sets the objectives our forces should try to achieve. The discussion below describes in more detail the dangers and opportunities we now foresee and outlines a strategy for dealing with them.

Nuclear Dangers and Opportunities

Dangers posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD)--that is, biological and chemical weapons--are growing. Beyond the five declared nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, and China), at least 20 other nations either have acquired or are attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction. In most areas where U.S. forces could potentially be engaged on a large scale, such as Korea or the Persian Gulf, our likely adversaries already posses chemical and biological weapons. Moreover, many of these same states (e.g., North Korea, Iraq, and Iran) appear to be embarked upon determined efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a hostile power not only threaten U.S. lives but also challenge our ability to use force to protect our interests. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by a regional aggressor would pose very serious challenges. For example, a hostile nuclear-armed state could threaten:

We also continue to face nuclear dangers from the former Soviet Union (FSU). Although our relations with Russia are friendly and cooperative, and although the chances of U.S.-Russian military confrontation have declined dramatically and we are cooperating with the Russians to safely reduce their nuclear arsenal, Moscow still controls tens of thousands of nuclear weapons--a factor to be reckoned with should anti-Western elements take control of the Russian government. Even after START II is ratified and implemented, Russia will maintain a formidable nuclear arsenal of 3,000 to 3,500 deliverable weapons.

Moreover, several thousand strategic nuclear weapons from the former Soviet arsenal lie outside Russia. Although the leaders of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have pledged to eliminate the strategic nuclear arsenals on their territories, the disposition of these weapons remains uncertain. While at present we assess that those weapons are secure, increasing political and social disorder in these newly independent states could heighten the risk that nuclear weapons might be used accidentally, in an unauthorized manner, or could fall into the hands of terrorist groups or nations. There is also a danger that the materials, equipment, and know-how needed to make nuclear weapons could leak through porous borders to other nations.

Beyond the promise of continued reductions in the nuclear stockpile of the former Soviet Union, as well as in our own, there are other opportunities for the international community to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. With international cooperation to strengthen and expand existing agreements, it should be possible to slow, if not halt, further proliferation; reduce the size and aggregate destructive power of nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals; and deter or prevent the actual use of these weapons. This will involve diplomatic means such as strengthening the provisions of, and widening participation in, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Missile Technology Control Regime, and negotiating nuclear testing limitations.

However, in addition to cooperative threat reduction and nonproliferation efforts, the United States will need to retain the capacity for nuclear retaliation against those who might contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction. We must also continue to explore other ways to improve our ability to counter proliferation, such as active and passive defense against nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their delivery systems.

Addressing Nuclear Dangers and Seizing Opportunities

Given this situation, our strategy for addressing the new dangers from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and seizing opportunities to prevent their use must involve a multi-pronged approach.

First it includes nonproliferation efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction to additional countries through the strengthening of existing controls on the export of WMD technologies and materials and the improvement and expansion of international mechanisms and agreements for limiting and eliminating nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Second, we must pursue cooperative threat reduction with the former Soviet Union, aimed at eliminating its stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, their components, and related technology and expertise within and beyond FSU borders.

While these first two efforts involve primarily diplomatic measures, DoD must also focus on counterproliferation efforts to deter, prevent, or defend against the use of WMD if our nonproliferation endeavors fail. Specifically, to address the new nuclear dangers, DoD must emphasize:

Regional Dangers and Opportunities

Regional dangers include a host of threats: large-scale aggression; smaller conflicts; internal strife caused by ethnic, tribal, or religious animosities; state-sponsored terrorism; subversion of friendly governments; insurgencies; and drug trafficking. Each of these dangers jeopardizes, to varying degrees, interests important to the United States.

Specific examples of these new regional dangers include:

Beyond these dangers, there are also real opportunities. During the Cold War, repressive regimes that were direct adversaries of the United States dominated vast regions of the globe. Today, the countries that pose direct dangers to us are far fewer, and the countries that may join us in thwarting the remaining regional dangers are far more numerous.

Addressing Regional Dangers and Seizing Opportunities

To address the new regional dangers and seize new opportunities, we have developed a multifaceted strategy based on defeating aggressors in major regional conflicts, maintaining overseas presence to deter conflicts and provide regional stability, and conducting smaller-scale intervention operations, such as peace enforcement, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, to further U.S. interests and objectives.

Major Regional Conflicts. The United States will continue to have important interests and allies in many regions of the world, from Europe through Southwest Asia, into East Asia, and elsewhere. Regional aggressors represent a danger that must be deterred and, if necessary, defeated by the military capability of the United States and its allies. Moreover, if we were to be drawn into a war in response to the armed aggression of one hostile nation, another could well be tempted to attack its neighbors--especially if it were convinced the United States and its allies did not possess the requisite military capability or will to oppose it.

Therefore, it is prudent for the United States to maintain sufficient military power to be able to win two major regional conflicts that occur nearly simultaneously. With this capability, we will be confident, and our allies as well as potential enemies will know, that a single regional conflict will not leave our interest and allies in other regions at risk.

Further, sizing our forces for two major regional conflicts provides a hedge against the possibility that a future adversary might one day confront us with a larger-than-expected threat, and then turn out, through doctrinal or technological innovation, to be more capable than we expect, or enlist the assistance of other nations to form a coalition against our interests. The dynamic and unpredictable post-Cold War environment demands that we maintain military capabilities flexible and responsive enough to cope with unforeseen dangers. Thus, U.S. forces will be structured to achieve decisive victory in two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts and to conduct combat operations characterized by rapid response and a high probability of success, while minimizing the risk of significant American casualties.

Overseas Presence. Stationing and deploying U.S. military forces overseas in peacetime is an essential element in dealing with new regional dangers and pursuing new opportunities.

The peacetime overseas presence of our forces is the single most visible demonstration of our commitment to defend U.S. and allied interests in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere around the world. The presence of U.S. forces deters adventureism and coercion by potentially hostile states, reassures friends, enhances regional stability, and underwrites our larger strategy of international engagement, prevention, and partnership. It also gives us a stronger influence, both political and economic as well as military, in the affairs of key regions.

By stationing forces abroad we also improve our ability to respond effectively to crises or aggression when they occur. Our overseas presence provides the leading edge of the rapid response capability that we would need in a crisis. Moreover, our day-to-day operations with allies improve the ability of U.S. and allied forces to operate effectively together.

Finally, our routine presence helps to ensure our access to the facilities and bases we would need during a conflict or contingency, both to operate in a given region and to deploy forces from the United States to distant regions.

Our overseas presence forces take several forms:

Army and Air Force units are permanently stationed in regions where the United States has important and enduring interests and wants to make clear that aggression will be met by a U.S. military response. Because these units are also part of the forces needed to fight and win two major regional conflicts, we must retain a significant presence in key regions. However, with the demise of the global Soviet threat, we can protect our interests and prepare for potential regional conflicts at significantly reduced levels of forward-deployed forces.

Maritime overseas presence forces range widely across the world's oceans, demonstrating to both friends and potential adversaries that the United States has global interests and the ability to bring military power quickly to bear anywhere in the world. In addition, maritime forces have the operational mobility and political flexibility to reposition to potential trouble spots by unilateral U.S. decision--whether to signal America's interest in resolving a crisis, evacuate American citizens from danger, render humanitarian assistance, or conduct strikes against countries supporting terrorism or defying U.N. resolutions.

Peacekeeping, Peace Enforcement, and Other Intervention Operations. While deterring and defeating major regional aggression will be the most demanding requirement of the new defense strategy, our emphasis on engagement, prevention, and partnership means that, in this new era, U.S. military forces are more likely to be involved in operations short of declared or intense warfare. Events of the past few years have already borne this out, as our armed forces have been involved in a wide range of so-called "intervention" operations, from aiding typhoon victims in Bangladesh during Operation Sea Angel, to delivering humanitarian relief to the former Soviet Union under Operation Provide Hope, to conducting the emergency evacuation of U.S. citizens from Liberian during Operation Sharp Edge, to restoring order and aiding victims of the civil war in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.

Through overseas presence and power projection, our armed forces can help deter or contain violence in volatile regions where our interests are threatened. In some circumstances, U.S. forces can serve a peacekeeping role, monitoring and facilitating the implementation of cease-fire and peace agreements with the consent of the belligerent parties as part of a U.N. or other coalition presence. In more hostile situations, the United States might be called upon, along with other nations, to provide forces to compel compliance with international resolutions or to restore order in peace enforcement operations. In some cases, such as Operation Just Cause in Panama, we may intervene unilaterally to protect our interests. Finally, our armed forces will continue to play an important role in the national effort to halt the importation of illegal drugs to the United States.

In the future, there are likely to be many occasions when we are asked to intervene with military force overseas. In deciding where, when, and how our military should be employed for peace enforcement, peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, or similar types of operations, we will need to consider each situation individually and carefully weigh several factors:

Because these operations are so diverse, the forces and capabilities needed to conduct them will vary. Fortunately, the military capabilities needed for these operations are largely those maintained for other purposes--major regional conflicts and overseas presence. Thus, although specialized training and equipment may often be needed, the forces required will, for the most part, be selected elements of those general purpose forces maintained for other, larger military operations. There are some forces and capabilities that are particularly well suited for intervention operations--for example, special operations forces, including psychological operations and civil affairs units.

New Dangers to Democracy and Opportunities for Democratic Reform

The post-Cold War trend toward democracy throughout much of the world is a tremendously favorable one for the security of the United States. Our values are ascendant. Peaceful resolution of disputes is more likely as democracy spreads.

This positive trend, however, is reversible. In most former communist countries, democratic institutions are not yet firmly established, and market reforms have yet to produce tangible improvements in standards of living. The reversal of reforms and the emergence of ultranationalist authoritarianism, particularly in Russia, would substantially alter the security situation for the United States.

Addressing Dangers to Democracy

U.S. strategy will seek to draw democratizing states in central and eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics into deeper partnerships. We and our allies should:

Collectively, such measures constitute "defense by other means" against potential consequences of failure of reform in Russia and elsewhere. We also need to work with the military in other countries to sustain democracy.

As a hedge against possible reversals, we should strengthen our bilateral and multilateral ties in central and eastern Europe. We must also retain the means to rebuild a larger force structure, should one be needed in the future to confront an emergent authoritarian and imperialist Russia reasserting its full military potential.

New Economic Dangers and Opportunities

The final-- and in the post-Cold War period, perhaps most important--set of dangers that U.S. strategy must confront is economic. In recent years, the U.S. economy has been plagued by an enormous and growing federal debt, sluggish growth, inadequate job creation, and a large trade imbalance. Further, our growing dependence on imported petroleum constitutes an economic danger of its own.

The Department of Defense can help address these economic dangers. DoD can help America seize the opportunity presented by the end of the Cold War to enhance its economic security. We must stress the productive reinvestment of defense resources, facilities, and technology into the civilian economy. Placing new emphasis on key technologies--information and manufacturing technologies and advanced materials--will help strengthen both the military and civilian sectors. With careful restructuring of our forces and support infrastructure, we can maintain capabilities sufficient to meet our present and future security needs while reducing the overall level of resources devoted to defense.

Beyond simply using fewer resources, the Department of Defense will actively assist in the transition of the U.S. economy away from a Cold War footing. Such assistance will come in the form of providing transition assistance to individuals departing the military, facilitating the conversion of defense industries, and encouraging the freer flow of technologies between the civilian and military sectors.

Sustaining a healthy free trade regime and, within that, expanding U.S. exports and reducing trade imbalances will be key to our future economic growth. Addressing these issues productively will hinge on maintaining sound political and economic relationships with our trading partners. Trade relations are intertwined with security relations: In most cases, we enjoy close security relationships with our trading partners. Our bilateral and multilateral security arrangements are tangible evidence of our interest in regions, and they help ensure that the United States will have a "seat at the table" in forums for political and economic decision making.

Military power supports and is supported by political and economic power. Likewise, security relationships support and are supported by trade relationships. We cannot expect to improve our trade relations or our trading position with our allies if we withdraw from our security relationships. At the same time, we must recognize that domestic support for overseas commitments depends in part on the perception of fairness in trade and other matters.

Objectives of Our Armed Forces

Our examination of new dangers and opportunities leads to the following major objectives for our armed forces.

Building Future Capabilities: Guiding Principles

While the objectives outlined above provide a framework for determining our force structure and modernization requirements, certain other underlying principles guided our effort during the Bottom-Up Review. In his inaugural address, President Clinton pledged to keep America's military the best-trained, best-equipped, best-prepared fighting force in the world. To fulfill that pledge, we must keep it the focus of our effort throughout the planning, programming, and budgeting process.

First, we must keep our forces ready to fight. We have already witnessed the challenges posed by the new dangers in operations like Just Cause (Panama), Desert Storm (Iraq), and Restore Hope (Somalia). Each of these were "come as you are" campaigns with little time to prepare our forces for the challenges they met.

The new dangers thus demand that we keep our forces ready to fight as a top priority in allocating scarce defense resources. We must adequately fund operations and maintenance accounts, maintain sufficient stocks of spare parts, keep our forces well-trained and equipped, and take the other steps essential to preserving readiness.

A key element of maintaining forces ready to fight is to maintain the quality of our people, so that they remain the best fighting force in the world. First, this means keeping our personnel highly motivated by treating them fairly and maintaining their quality of life. It also means continuing to recruit talented young men and women, expanding career opportunities for all service members, and putting in place programs to ease the transition to civilian life for departing military personnel as we bring down the size of our forces.

We must also maintain the technological superiority of our weapons and equipment in the world. Operation Desert Storm demonstrated that we produce the best weapons and military equipment in the world. This technological edge helps us to achieve victory more swiftly and with fewer casualties. We must design a balanced modernization program that safeguards this edge and the necessary supporting industrial base without buying more weapons than we need or can afford.