In looking around this room and seeing so many of you who have done so much over the years for our country and Submarine Force, I must admit a sense of kinship with William Howard Taft’s great-granddaughter who wrote in her third-grade autobiography: “My great-grandfather was President of the United States, my grandfather was a United States Senator, my father is an Ambassador, and I am a Brownie.”
In fact, Nebraskans recognize this status. They made my wife, Katy, an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy and made me an Ensign in the Fort Omaha Naval Reserves.
I’m glad to be back among my fellow submariners. I’m acutely aware that it’s late afternoon, that I’m speaker number nine, and following a luncheon that had a cash bar-you either have a great faith in my spellbinding presentation or you need a short nap before dinner. Nonetheless, I will forge ahead and share some thoughts with you.
The uncertainties of today’s world give us all pause. Yet, at the same time, we see rays of hope-rays from the tremendous changes which have and continue to occur.
Examples of the changes which occurred over the last 12 months include:
- On May 30th of 1994, for the first time in 35 years, the U.S. and Russia stopped aiming their strategic nuclear missiles at each other. This retargeting initiative represented a confidence-building measure. While both countries have the capability to rapidly retarget their missiles, both viewed retargeting as reaffirming and building upon the importance of U.S.-Russian cooperation.
- In July 1994, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program enabled, among many other items, the delivery to Russia of bulldozers to assist in silo destruction, Kevlar blankets, and guillotines for chopping wings off aircraft. Already this program has allowed the Russians to dismantle more than 2,600 warheads, remove 750 missiles from their launchers and destroy almost 600 launchers and bombers.
- In August, Russian Bear H bombers made a second visit to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. Leading this visit was the Commander of the CIS Long-Range Aviation, General Colonel Igor Kalugin. We shared tours of Russian and U.S. bombers and got to know their aviators
- Also in August, I visited Russia as the guest of General-Colonel Sergeyev, the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation, along with several Air Force missile general officers. This was a reciprocal visit. At the Plesk Test Range, I was given a launch button from an SS-17 missile, with the comment: “don’t worry about it we cut the wires off”. They are hospitable people, generally open with a good sense of humor and tremendous pride in their country.
- In September, the year-long Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was approved. The START II changes directed by the NPR were considerable. Our B-IB bomber fleet will transition to conventional operations only by the late ’90s. We will also see a 30 percent reduction in our B-52 bomber force as well as a 22 percent reduction in ballistic missile submarines. Additionally, the NPR called for the removal of all nuclear weapons from carriers and cruisers. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev reacted negatively to the results of the NPR, implying that we were just putting more nuclear weapons on submarines.
- Also at a September summit, the Presidents of Russia and the United States agreed to expedite START II deactivation.
- We were proud to host more junior officers of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces at STRATCOM in October 1994. This visit was the result of an agreement between Sergeyev and me to expand the military-to-military exchanges to mid-grade officers-the future leaders (colonels, lieutenant colonels, majors).
- November 1994 was marked by two significant achievements. Our government in coordination with Kazakhstan officials removed 1,300 pounds of enriched uranium. Then, Ukraine accepted the results of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, setting the stage of START I.
- We ended 1994 with the entry into force of the START I treaty on December 5. While the U.S. has nearly met the force level requirements of the treaty, the Russians are catching up rapidly.
- The New Year started off with a visit by my deputy, Lieutenant General Dirk Jameson, to Russia to brief Sergeyev and his staff on the results of the NPR to dispel inaccuracies. Since then, Sergeyev has spoken for START II ratification.
- START I inspections began in March 1995 with the first group of Russian inspectors arriving in California. I also had the opportunity to meet the Russian Chief of Naval Operations, Gromov, in Kings Bay, Georgia on April 7.
- Finally, on May 18, the last Minuteman II ICBM was pulled from its silo at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri-signifying the end of the MM II era. Also in May, Kazakhstan was declared nickel-free and, the U.S. and Russia worked together to achieve the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
It has truly been a busy year of strategic changes. These changes in our force structures and our relationship with Russia do not mean we are unaware of the fragility of this new peace. We at U.S. Strategic Command view ourselves as the bridge between the past and the future. We have a two-fold mandate-a consistent and familiar mission-first: to deter major military attacks on the United States and its allies,· and if deterrence fails, employ forces. Granted, our mission might be viewed as a Cold War theme. But our mission is to deter aggression. We are very much aware of the 20,000 nuclear weapons that remain in Russia. And we know that each has the capability that’s roughly 75,000 times more powerful than the bomb in Oklahoma City.
Secondly, we’re involved in managing a stable drawdown of nuclear forces and building cooperative relations with Russia. We want to facilitate the removal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine and Belarus.
These are not contradictory mandates-rather, they are complementary means to greater security for us and our allies. We at USSTRATCOM are proud to be referred to as America’s insurance policy.
This is a very inexpensive policy. We used to spend more than $30B on nuclear programs. Now, we spend $8.SB a year, a more than 75 percent reduction over the past 10 years when total Department of Defense expenditures declined 34 percent. Since 1985, the number of strategic nuclear weapons platforms (bombers, ballistic missile submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missile silos) declined 44 percent. Additionally, the number of people in our strategic nuclear forces has declined approximately 50 percent. We are the most cost-effective part of American power. At START II levels, 50 percent of our strategic capability will be on submarines, with four percent of Navy people. It is also significant to note that we have no new weapons, missiles or warheads, on the drawing boards or in design.
America’s nuclear weapons remain blunt instruments of last resort. In an important but intangible ways, they underwrite national influence. While they comprise a small part of our military capability, they enable our President to deal on the world stage from a position of considerable strength. Nuclear weapons not only were the underpinning of deterrence in past years but also continue to support U.S. national objectives in the post-Cold War world. They deter aggression by posing unacceptable and incalculable risks to potential aggressors.
I’m sure you remember when Saddam Hussein threatened to use chemical weapons, carried by Scud missiles, on Saudi Arabia. In response to that threat, President Bush sent a strongly worded letter to Saddam. The letter essentially said, “if you use chemical weapons, the American people will demand the strongest possible response”. President Bush’s Secretary of State, Jim Baker, gave the letter to Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, Aziz refused to deliver it.
The letter was delivered by a Japanese gentleman to one of Saddam’s lieutenants with the admonition, “Maybe you ought to read this … ” President Bush never said he would or would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons. It is the degree of measured ambiguity that poses unacceptable risks to aggressors, can deter the use of weapons of mass destruction, and can contribute to global and regional stability.
Yes, we are still wrestling with how to best respond to or assist in the resolution of another country’s civil war as in Bosnia, or how to keep people from committing atrocities against each other, as in Somalia and Rwanda. But in conflicts where U.S. forces are being shot at, we want quick resolution on our terms and to discourage our adversary’s use of weapons of mass destruction. We still believe that nuclear weapons have meaning for our allies and that our extended deterrent guarantee is appropriate.
This issue was very carefully considered during the NPR. As other countries continue efforts to acquire or manufacture weapons of mass destruction, as well as the means to deliver them, our allies must be confident that the U.S. nuclear umbrella covers them.
So what impact does this have on the future of arms control? I emphasize the importance of a pragmatic relationship with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. It is in our interest to help Russia and other republics retain democracy, build a free market economy, and to reduce their Cold War arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Their future is not certain. Whereas we in the U.S. point to our economic, philosophical, political, and military strength as proud facts of our international prowess, nuclear weapons constitute the ticket for the Russians at the superpower table. They are keenly aware of this strength and they know it’s the part of the military they can count on.
Thus, our effort to reduce their arsenal is likely to be time-consuming and dependent on a stable relationship. If they become distrustful of us or perceive arms control as a means of weakening their stature, it’s going to be harder to do meaningful business. I expect arms control with Russia to be a long-term proposition.
And as we help them dismantle their arsenal, we cannot ignore the difficulties of their society. Many of the basics are lacking. General Colonel Sergeyev told me that one of his biggest problems was finding housing for his Strategic Rocket Force officers as they downsize, close bases, and retired people. A month ago, Secretary of Defense Perry attended a ceremony in Ukraine for a new housing project for the very same officers-pre-fabricated housing is now being built in a factory that used to build Soviet warships. We are making progress but we do not expect to see that part of the world free of instability for many years to come.
Our forces and strategy hedge against an uncertain future. Look how much has changed in the past five years. Hence, we still retain some capability to upload weapons on our missiles and put bombers back on alert to guard against reversal of intentions in countries with sufficient nuclear capability to destroy our country. Who knows, we may well see a political, military, and fiscal future we haven’t envisioned. We need to hedge our bets. We need insurance.
Yes, we’re emphasizing nuclear safety, here and in Russia. We’re stressing cooperation to reach shared objectives. We’re actually eliminating the weapons we’ve agreed to eliminate and we’re monitoring the progress by the former Soviet Union to do the same.
A few words about the future.
Continued safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in a no-testing environment is a concern. It is important that the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy develop a plan on how to assess and maintain the current safety and reliability standards as we continue the no-test environment and work to achieve a comprehensive test ban treaty.
The industrial base which maintains, sustains, and improves our strategic forces is very much a concern. As noted before, we have no new strategic systems in development. After we comply with arms control agreements, the forces that remain will provide our strategic deterrent well into the next century. We need to sustain unique industrial capabilities in the areas of missile reentry vehicles, guidance systems, and propulsion.
The START II Treaty is very much in the interest of the United States. I expect we will ratify START II soon. Ratification may be harder to achieve in Russia. Preserving the intent and integrity of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty will be vital to Duma [Editor’s Note: Russian Parliament] ratification of ST ART IL Another sensitive issue within the Duma is the perceived eastward expansion of NA TO-some of them see it as threatening. START II is also a costly treaty from the perspective of some Russians.
Speaking as the Strategic Force Commander who will rely on ballistic missile submarines for 50 percent of the country’s strategic warheads at START II, we need to move beyond the improved 688s-meaning build the SSN 23 and start the new attack submarine before the turn of the century. A cadre of attack submarines with greater stealth is very much in our national interest.
At the conclusion of the NPR, the Secretary of Defense concluded that 14 Trident submarines (all equipped with the Trident II, OS missile) were a sufficient force when Russia and the U.S. reach START II force levels. His decision considered many aspects:
- The balanced force of bombers, ICBMs, and submarines was a stabilizing force structure that would give any potential aggressor pause, and we would have nearly as many war-heads on 14 SSBNs loaded with five reentry vehicles as on 18 Tridents with four reentry vehicles per missile while still preserving a hedging capability to reload nearly 1,000 warheads
- The 05 on 14 submarines provide two ocean capabilities with a far newer, longer-term design weapons (C4 was a 10-year design, D5 is a 20-year design). The D5 has the greater reliability, accuracy, flexibility, and throw-weight to be a better weapon in the next century.
- Had we stayed with the C4 we would have encompassed greater cost in supporting two missile systems in the interim period and risk of early failure, so the prompt decision to retire the C4 early in the next century saves funds. Had C4 suffered failure we feared a retreat to 10 submarines, which would indeed jeopardize a stable deterrent and put us in single ocean operation.
And now, my final subject. Through it all, we’re mightily indebted to our superb young men and women-your sons and daughters-who fully understand the price of liberty is eternal vigilance: That they are the right ones to keep that vigil, outside public limelight at sea, throughout our Navy. And it is true that just a small fraction of our Navy is strategic forces, working side-by-side with our sister services who strive equally hard outside the public spotlight
The caliber of people in the armed forces ultimately determines our ability to deter. Deterrence theories are only visions without the hard work of many dedicated individuals.
Today’s Navy and strategic forces come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They are talented and capable with as much enthusiasm as our generation.
They are motivated to serve our country through good times and bad. Their loyalty is inspiring. To maintain our robust force it is crucial that we support these young people and their families, especially through the anxieties associated with the downsizing of our forces. Pay. retirement, medical, bonuses, XO, and command selection-all are issues that have contributed to turmoil in our people. Thankfully at the end of this year, we’ll be 75 percent through the drawdown. We need to protect this most important national treasure-our people.
I appreciate having this opportunity to share my perspective on events and issues facing
Thank you for the superb support of the Naval Submarine Leaguers in explaining to the public our Navy’s value. And thank you for your unwavering support of our men and women in uniform.