Realism in the Defense Budget

April 1, 1982

Pegged at $215.9 billion in outlays and $258 billion in total obligational authority (TOA), the Administration’s proposed FY ’83 Defense budget is statistically formidable, reflecting a growth of 10.5 percent in outlays and of 13.2 percent in TOA over FY ’82. Nevertheless, the proposed budget is spare and confirmed to the “minimal” requirements of America’s national security, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci. The proposed funding, he told the press and Congress, represents an essential response to the Soviet military buildup that continues unabated and absorbs about fifteen percent of the USSR’s gross national product, or more than twice the US ratio. Further, the ’83 budget request, in a deliberate departure from past practice, is not underpriced, underestimated, or cosmetically slimmed down by hidden costs, Secretary Carlucci stressed.

The new budget met significant congressional opposition from the outset amid indications that serious attempts will be made to inflict major cuts. As proposed by the Administration, the Defense budget will give the US “enhanced deterrence; support for a strong and vigorous foreign policy, including a program for arms reduction; and better value for the taxpayer,” Secretary Carlucci claimed. As President Reagan put it in his message to Congress, “A year ago, every component of military strength was flashing warning of neglect, underinvestment, and deteriorating capability. Today, health is being restored.”

The new Defense budget, the Administration asserted, “incorporates several new management and cost-reduction initiatives compared to previous budget submissions. A comprehensive effort was made to identify savings and efficiencies within this budget; major acquisition programs have been budgeted to most likely cost at inception to avoid surprises later on; and higher initial investment in programs is made up front in order to ensure real unit cost savings in the future.”

As part of the “reform” aspects of the proposed budget, the Defense Department instructed all program managers to be “more realistic in estimating their costs, even to including reserves for technological uncertainties, changes in contractors’ business bases, and other unspecified but unavoidable costs,” according to Secretary Carlucci. Procedures for projecting inflation were revised to “reflect more accurately the impact of inflation on specific segments of Defense purchases.”

Such adjustments, the Pentagon believes, “do not raise total costs; they will show higher costs up front but avoid larger cost overruns later. This is an important element of the new cost discipline. The increases in budget authority for multiyear contracts, economical production rates, and productivity improvements are an up-front investment in lower unit costs, rather than merely increasing total outlays.”

While the result will be higher unexpended balances, the full cost of acquisition decisions will be kept more visible. To the extent that these initiatives accelerate spending, other programs “have been sacrificed or held in the development stage until [DoD] can afford to pursue them in an economical way,” according to Secretary Carlucci.

Strategies Driving the Budget

The Annual Report to Congress by Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger that accompanied the FY ’83 budget draft sets forth in detail the global strategies the Reagan Administration plans to pursue. In the strategic nuclear arena the US seeks a force posture “such that, in a crisis, the Soviets will have no incentive to initiate a nuclear attack on the United States or our allies. US forces will be capable under all conditions of war initiation to survive a Soviet first strike and retaliate in a way that permits the United States to achieve its objectives.” Special emphasis is on “enduring survivability” of the force, rather than on a “façade” of maintaining a simplistic symmetry between US and Soviet forces in terms of “some superficial tally of missiles or aircraft deployed in peacetime.”

Pointing out that “this Administration must cope with the severe inadequacies it inherited in the realm of strategic and other nuclear weapons,” the Annual Report finds advantages in the fact that the President had to decide how to replace or expand all major elements of the US strategic forces: “It permitted us to shape our strategic nuclear force as a coherent instrument responsive to national policy and to eliminate some dangerous contradictions between the capabilities of our nuclear forces and the objectives of our policy.”

The purpose of the strategic nuclear forces, in the view of the Administration, is to deter nuclear attack on the US and its allies; help deter major conventional attack against US forces and our allies, especially in NATO; impose termination of major war—on terms favorable to the US—even if nuclear weapons have been used, and in particular to deter escalation in the level of hostilities; and to negate possible Soviet nuclear blackmail against this country and its allies.

Arms control, an ancillary element of nuclear strategy, stands in jeopardy because a “set of facts has come to light that creates a most serious problem for any new arms agreement with the Soviet Union,” Secretary Weinberger reported to Congress. Citing detailed evidence that suggests Soviet violations of the Biological Weapons Convention, he asserted that “cosmetic agreements—those that would merely legitimize a further buildup of Soviet military power—are not in our national interest.”

So far as conventional warfare capabilities are concerned, the Administration believes that “our overall defense effort … must be based on much broader and more fundamental judgments than some arbitrary and facile assumptions about the number of ‘wars,’ or fronts, that we must be prepared for.” Warning against confusing the defensive orientation of this country’s peacetime strategy with the tactics and strategy that would confront an attacker under war conditions, he stressed the wisdom of “counteroffensives at place where we can affect the outcome of the war.” Counteroffensive thrusts that offset the enemy’s attack “should be launched against territory or assets that are of an importance to him comparable to the ones he is attacking.”

Pointing out bluntly that the Soviet empire is vulnerable because “unlike our alliance, [it] is not a voluntary association of democratic nations,” he said that “our plans for counteroffensive in war can take account of such vulnerabilities on the Soviet side.” Secretary Weinberger told Congress that “strategic planning for counteroffensives is not provocative. It is likely to increase the caution of the Soviet leaders in deciding on aggression, because they will understand that if they unleash a conventional war, they are placing a wide range of their assets—both military and civilian—at risk.”

In a marked departure from past defense policy, the Administration rejects assumptions that conventional wars will be “short wars,” because, as Secretary Weinberger put it, “common sense and past experience tell us otherwise. I have, therefore, instituted changes in defense policy to correct this fallacy.” He added that “deterrence would be weakened if the enemy were misled to believe that he could easily outlast us in a conventional war. In particular, for a vulnerable and vital region like Southeast Asia, a US strategy that promised our adversaries a ‘short war’ could be an invitation to aggression.”

Among the initiatives meant to correct the “short war” syndrome of the past are improved sustainability for US forces, a strengthened capability to expand defense production, and appropriate changes in strategy and tactics, according to the new Defense Report.

Building on President Regan’s tenet that “the West won’t contain communism, it will transcend communism,” the Administration’s long-term strategy is an amalgam of military and economic policies with two specific objectives: “First, [US geostrategic policy] must bring to a halt the further expansion and consolidation of the Soviet military empire, whether this expansion and consolidation of the Soviet military empire, whether this expansion would proceed through direct Soviet military intervention (as in Afghanistan) or through less direct intervention (as in Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere). Second, our strategy must see to it that the productivity and technological creativity of the free societies are not exploited to make good the chronic deficiencies of the Communist system.”

Secretary Weinberger’s report to Congress warned pointedly: “If the economy of the Soviet empire is propped up by Western credits, the Soviet Union is enabled to divert more of its resources to its military buildup. If the Soviet Union earns foreign currency by exporting raw materials to our allies, it can purchase more equipment to facilitate its arms production and give more to its client states. If it continues to obtain advanced technology from the West, it can later threaten us with advanced weaponry.”

Summarizing the Administration’s long-term defense policy, Secretary Weinberger asserted that “in the nuclear age, more than in any other period of human history, military strategy must be the servant of national policy, a policy that is the ultimate trustee of the nation’s interests. But to paraphrase Clausewitz, policy cannot make demands on military strategy that strategy cannot fulfill.”

Warning that no defense policy, no strategy, could succeed unless it is supported by military strength, he urged Congress to joint the Administration is pursuing “a policy that ensures that our resources are not diverted to strengthen our adversary but instead fully serve the cause of freedom.” He argued with incontrovertible logic “that whatever strengthens the Soviet Union now weakens the cause of freedom in the world.”

Recognizing that “the best strategic thinking will be of little use unless it can be translated into concrete policy decisions, budgetary choices, and specific strategic plans,” the Defense Department, therefore, is taking “initiatives both to improve the translation of strategic thought into policy decisions and utilize intellectual work that can inform and guide our decisions,” he reported to Congress. Toward this end, DoD “instituted more flexible and efficient ways of using established outside research organizations and … created a new group, the Strategic Concepts Development Center, located at the National Defense University. This Center will take advantage of the rich resources of the National War College and will provide advice to me, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Secretary Weinberger announced.

The Five-Year Defense Plan

The Five-Year Defense Plan announced by the Administration in extension of the FY ’83 budget request envisions an average real growth rate in TOA of 7.4 percent a year between now and 1987. Expressed in current dollars, the FY ’83 Defense budget level is scheduled to increase in TOA from $258 billion to $400.8 billion by FY ’87. The corresponding outlay growth would boost the $215.9 billion requested in FY ’83 to $356 billion five years hence. As a percentage of GNP, the Defense budget is slated to grow from 6.3 percent to 7.4 percent by 1987.

Even though the Administration proposes to spend $1.6 trillion over the next five years, that total is still less than the $1.8 trillion earmarked for social and welfare programs over the same period. The White House contends that “fears that the Defense budget of this Administration will strain the American economy are unfounded. In the 1950s and 1960s, when defense spending as a percentage of GNP was much larger than today, annual inflation rates ranged from about one to seven percent. Economic studies have found little difference in the effect of defense and nondefense spending on inflation. Defense spending, like other federal spending, produces something which contributes to the people’s needs. The very purpose of our economy is to meet the needs of our people.”

People, their needs, their training, and their morale are singled out as the top priority of the new budget and Five-Year Defense Plan on grounds that “no military force, no matter how sophisticated its equipment, will be any better than its people.” Claiming that the Administration’s efforts in this regard have just begun, the new Defense Report asserts that “we can already observe genuine improvements. For the first time in over a decade, force size is beginning to increase: the end strength of the Active and Selected Reserve grew by 80,000 in FY ’81 alone. And we plan to continue to make increases of this magnitude for each year through FY ’87 so that we can meet our worldwide military needs.”

Cautioning that the need for military compensation programs is being obscured by perceptions that personnel costs are rising at disproportionate and accelerating rates, Secretary Weinberger reported that “the share of the DoD budget that goes for personnel (including retired pay) has declined every year since 1975—from nearly sixty percent in FY ’75 to forty-one percent of the FY ’83 budget outlays. Even with the significant military compensation improvements granted last year, the personnel share of the budget is seven percent less than in FY ’81. These costs compare favorably with manpower costs in labor-intensive industries which run about forty-eight percent of expenditures.”

The military pay rate assumptions of the just announced Five-Year Defense Plan drop from an annual percentage increase of 14.3 percent in FY ’82 to eight percent in FY ’83, 7.6 percent in FY ’84, 5.5 percent in FY ’86 and FY ’87 at five percent. The percentage boost for military retired pay drops from 6.6 percent this year to 6.5 percent in FY ’83 and is envisioned to decline to 2.9 percent by FY ’86.

The manpower levels of the active-duty force, including full-time Reserve and Guard, increase from 2,132,000 this year to 2,189,000 in FY ’83. This increase includes a boost by 19,000 slots to 600,000 for the Air Force. Civilian employment of the Air Force, however, is scheduled to drop by 4,000; the other services and the Defense agencies, by contrast, are authorized to increase civilian employment. Total DoD manpower, including military and civilians, is to reach 3,224,000 in FY ’83. This total, combined with the employees of defense-related industry, brings total Defense manpower to 6,086,000 by FY ’83, according to the Administration’s forecasts.

Readiness and Sustainability

About twenty-three percent of the proposed FY ’83 budget goes to strategic and other nuclear forces.

The remainder, or seventy-seven percent, is subdivided to defray the cost of military pay and allowances; research and development as well as acquisition of weapon systems and equipment; ammunition, spare parts, fuel, and other consumables; and other operations, maintenance, and support costs.

Among these, two broad categories get special attention in the FY ’83 budget request: readiness and sustainability. The emphasis here is on increased funding for war reserve stocks, fuel inventories, ammunition, and depot maintenance. Fuel inventories are to be increased by about seven percent to ensure adequate supplies for readiness-related training levels without drawing down war reserve fuel stocks. The ammunition budget provides increases for training consumption, the introduction of new munitions, and increased war reserve ammunition stocks. In addition, there is a thirty-nine percent increase in ammunition production base support to provide modernization, expansion, and maintenance of the ammunition industrial base.

A cardinal goal, Secretary Weinberger told Congress, is to attain as soon as possible a level of combat sustainability “at least equal to that of the threat we face.” Under this policy, he explained, “procurement of stocks needed for immediate combat sustainability has nearly as high a budget priority as … readiness. Beyond that, we will continue to increase our war reserves gradually so that those inventories, complemented by a broader and more responsive industrial base, will give us the capability to sustain our combat forces for the likely duration of conflict.”

Conventional Force Expansion and Modernization

The new budget places heavy emphasis on modernization and expansion of the US Navy, setting a goal of 600 deployable battle-force ships by the end of this decade. Also, authorization and funding are requested this year for two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the Nimitz class.

In the arena of tactical airpower, the new Five-Year Defense Plan envisions a relatively rapid modernization program resulting in an Air Force inventory of 4,800 tactical aircraft with an average age of 10.8 years. For the Navy and Marine Corps, the force will increase from roughly 1,770 to 1,930 aircraft, a nine percent increase, while average age will decline from 10.2 to 9.6 years. This modernization program, the report claimed, represents an important step toward meeting the ideal average age for the US tactical aircraft inventory—ten years for the Air Force aircraft and 7.5 years for Navy aircraft.

As a function of total DoD investments proposed for FY’83, air warfare and related command control communications and intelligence (C3I) capabilities absorb about 12.6 percent, compared to 23.4 percent for sea warfare and related C3I. Comparable values for the 1983-87 period are 14.1 and 25.0 percent, respectively. By the 1990s, Secretary Weinberger reported to Congress, “we propose to expand the Air Force from its present level of approximately thirty-six notional wings to more than forty. At the same time, we plan to increase our Navy active carrier wings from twelve to fourteen.”

The Air Force plans to procure twenty A-10s, forty-two F-15s, and 120 F-16s in FY ’83. The F-15 procurements will make possible the retirement of obsolete aircraft from the active CONUS air defense forces; the F-16 buy aids in the modernization of the active and reserve forces. The F-16s are slated primarily to replace F-4s in the active force; the F-4s, in turn, will be used to replace older aircraft in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. One Guard and one Reserve unit will receive F-16s in FY ’84. By the end of that year, twenty-two percent of the fighter aircraft in the reserve forces will consist of A-10s and F-16s.

The acquisition of aircraft at efficient and economical rates is a prime concern of the new budget proposal. By FY ’85, F-15 procurement is scheduled to reach ninety-six aircraft per year and in the following year F-16 production rates are to climb to 180 aircraft annually. In the case of the F-15, the original procurement program of 729 aircraft has been increased to 1,107 units by FY ’87, and there are tentative plans to continue its acquisition into the 1990s.

Development funds are being made available for a ground support derivative of the F-15 that is to feature enhanced range, payload, and delivery capabilities. Similar plans are in store for the F-16 with the intent of conducting a “competition between the F-15 and F-16 air-to-surface derivatives,” only one of which may be chosen for acquistion, according to Secretary Weinberger. In the period 1982-85, 480 F-16s will be procured under a multiyear acquisition program, and there are plans to acquire additional aircraft of this type at an annual rate of 180 units in 1986 and beyond.

Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr and Gen. Lew Allen, Jr., USAF’s Chief of Staff, reported to Congress in a joint statement that “the growth potential of the F-15s and F-16s provides a solid foundation for continuing force modernization. By modifying both these aircraft we will be able to maintain their margin of superiority in the next decade and avoid the high costs of developing new aircraft. The multinational staged improvement program makes it possible for the F-16 to accommodate the advances in weapon systems and sensors necessary to meet the mid- to late-1980s threat. A similar staged improvement plan for the F-15 has also been initiated to upgrade its radar, communications, electronic warfare, and armament systems.”

They added, however, that by the early 1990s, these designs “will be twenty years old and … approaching the limits of feasible modification. Therefore, to meet expected threats and evolving mission needs in the 1990s and beyond, we must begin work now on a new generation fighter aircraft.” The FY ’83 budget proposal includes some $27 million for concept exploration and validation work, including initial development of an advanced technology engine for such a new fighter.

Other investments proposed by the new budget that enhance tactical airpower capabilities include some $123 million for LANTIRN (low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared system for night) that is to assist F-16 and A-10 aircraft in penetrating enemy defenses at low altitude and in finding and destroying enemy targets at night and in bad weather. Tactical C3I is boosted by the acquisition of two E-3A AWACS aircraft and long-lead funding for yet another unit. In the Electronic Combat (EC) arena, the budget funds the last nine of a programmed forty-two EF-111As that counter Soviet early warning, acquisition, and ground control intercept radars, along with a host of other pertinent programs.

This country and its allies lack an effective chemical warfare (CW) capability, while the Soviet Union deploys large and well-equipped CW forces. Soviet forces train extensively for chemical warfare, including the use of live agents, according to Secretary Weinberger. The Air Force’s CW program is to offset these Soviet capabilities by correcting current deficiencies. The importance of this program, according to the Air Force Posture Statement, “cannot be overemphasized. Until we have a viable CW capability, our theater forces remain at risk.”

In addition to correcting deficiencies in terms of defensive capabilities, the USAF CW program funds “major research and development efforts to design more effective and comfortable equipment. These include improved, ‘breathable’ fabrics for overgarments, more sensitive detection devices, improved decontamination equipment, and collective protection systems.”

The Air Force’s budget request point out further that “as with nuclear weapons, deterrence of CW requires a viable offensive capability. Our present capability is limited due to the lack of usable munitions and the need for additional persistent agent weapons. We must speed the development and procurement of binary weapons such as the Bigeye chemical spray bomb. Binary weapons, which do not contain toxic substances until the components are mixed, give us both required offensive capability and safe handling characteristics.”

Improved Mobility and Force Modernization

The Administration’s long-term goal, Secretary Weinberger told Congress, “is to be able to meet the demands of a worldwide war, including concurrent reinforcement of Europe, deployment to Southwest Asia (SWA), and support in other areas of conflict. In building toward this goal, mobility forces will be acquired first to meet the intertheater and intratheater demands of each theater independently, and then to meet the demands of the concurrent deployment.”

The Air Force Posture Statement elaborates on this point: “The global character of US interests and commitments makes it imperative that we maintain forward deployed forces and be able to deploy effective combat forces worldwide with great dispatch. The fact that many of our allies and areas critical to the West are close to the USSR and far from the United States places added demands on our mobility forces.” As a result, the FY ’83 budget requests places a premium on improving the mobility and force projection capabilities of the Air Force and the other services.

As a recently completed mobility study that had been requested by Congress brought out with stark clarity, a critical shortfall in airlift capacity seriously impedes US rapid deployment and reinforcement capabilities. The Defense Department concluded from this study that additional KC-10 tanker/cargo and C-5B cargo aircraft are required. The new budget request funds eight KC-10s and two C-5B aircraft. Overall, the Air Force allots about $5billion for mobility-related programs. USAF’s Posture Statement explains that forty-four additional KC-10s and fifty C-5Bs are to be acquired over the next few years. Programs to modify existing airlifters are to be continued concurrently.

Preposition of Air Force wartime materials and equipment is to intensify in the coming year, with emphasis on NATO and Southwest Asia. The European program will preposition equipment for tactical fighter forces. The Southwest Asian prepositioning program provides funds for procurement, transporation, storage, and maintenance of mobile bare-base kits, resupply, and ammunition.

Hand in globe with boosts in prepositioning and airlift enhancement are Air Force initiatives to increase aerial refueling capacity. The current tanker fleet of 615 operational KC-135As is to be augmented by a force of sixty operational KC-10s “to provide air refueling and cargo support for long-range strategic airlift and tactical deployments,” the Air Force reported to Congress.

Another measure to boost aerial refueling capacity for both strategic and conventional warfare missions is to reengine KC-135A aircraft. The Air Force plans to reengine 300 KC-135As over the next five years by equipping them with modern CFM56 engines. This modified aircraft, designated the KC-135R, will be able to do the job of one and a half KC-135As and have a useful service life well into the next century. Reengining will provide increased operational flexibility since the modified aircraft can operate from shorter runways.

Between twenty and twenty-five reengining kits are to be acquired in FY ’83. The first production aircraft was modified in February of this year, and the total developmental effort will be completed after flight-testing the first production aircraft in mid-1983.

The new budget increases the Air Force’s contributions to the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force in a number of ways. Several Air Force units have been earmarked for deployment in RDJTF contingencies. Included are four tactical fighter wings; a Strategic Projection Force (SPF) composed of bombers and supporting tankers; and airlift, a reconnaissance, air rescue, and combat communications units. The combat readiness and sustained fighting capabilities of these units were increased by allocating munitions and spare parts from other units.

The Air Force Posture Statement asserts that USAF’s ability to respond in RDJTF contingencies is hampered by mobility deficiencies, inadequate access to support facilities in potential conflict areas, and shortage of advanced munitions. Three initiatives are meant to allay these problems. The SPF Contingency Support Package funds exercises and procures supplies and equipment to enable that force to operate under austere conditions. Also, about $280 million is being allocated for facility construction in Southwest Asia, consisting in the main of runway and taxiway improvements and munitions shortage facilities for airfields in that theater. Lastly, $110 million was earmarked for a range of mobility support equipment.

In its analyses and actions the Defense Department recognizes the symbiotic relationship between airlift and sealift. Secretary Weinberger’s Annual Report explains that “over the course of a conflict, sealift would be the primary provider of strategic lift in terms of tonnages delivered. However, during the critical early periods of conflict, before sealines of communications are established, airlifts and prepositioning would be our primary means of rapidly deploying and sustaining combat forces.”

In the SWA theater, adverse geographic and climatic conditions, combined with the limited availability of airfields and ports, conspire against the RDJTF’s task and place a premium on intratheater airlift, he told Congress. Without enhanced intratheater mobility, “we could be forced to concentrate on less defensible locations near major airfields and seaports, rather than in key defensive positions of our choosing,” Secretary Weinberger said. While the FY ’83-87 program adds airlift at an accelerated rate, he said, “it does not satisfy entirely our future airlift requirements. As we redefine our long-term requirements and design future mobility programs, we will continue to evaluate new designs, including the C-17 [the inter/intratheater airlifter recommended by the Air Force], that enable us to increase the capability, responsiveness, operational flexibility, and reliability of our airlift forces.”

Sealift enhancements include conversion of eight high-speed [thirty-three-knot speak] SL-7 sealift ships to roll-on/roll-off (RO-RO) cargo-handling configuration. Secretary Weinberger’s report on RDJTF improvements also disclosed that, effective January 1, 1983, the RDJTF Commander will become Commander in Chief (CINC) of a Unified Command for SWA, reflecting the “importance we have placed upon SWA and our ability to deter or oppose Soviet aggression in the region.”

Strategic Forces

Over the next five years, 18.5 percent of all Defense Department investments is allocated to modernization and maintenance of the strategic nuclear forces and related C3I functions. During the past decade, while US strategic modernization programs were consistently stretched out, reduced, or deferred, the Air Force’s Posture Statement points out, “the Soviet Union developed and deployed a steady stream of new, more powerful, and increasingly accurate strategic systems.” The Air Force warns of “substantial Soviet superiority in the years ahead” if there is no vigorous US response, and stresses that the “most threatening aspect of the Soviet strategic buildup has been the vast improvement in their ICBM force.”

At this time, the Soviet ICBM arsenal consists of 1,398 silo-based missiles carrying in the aggregate 5,540 warheads. The US ICBM force consists of 1,052 missiles carrying 2,152 warheads. Because of the numerical superiority in warheads and their greatly increased accuracy, it becomes “imperative that we develop with dispatch a survivable basing mode for our ICBMs,” the Air Force reported to Congress.

Among the short-term actions taken within the strategic nuclear program of the Air Force is the replacement of fifty Minuteman IIs with a like number of Minuteman IIIs “to help offset the decrease in strategic capabilities resulting form the phaseout of the Titan IIs,” the Posture Statement disclosed. A significant portion of the strategic force modernization program—about $4.5 billion—is allocated to MX. Of this total, about $1.5 billion goes to the acquisition of nine missiles. Research and development work on long-term survivable basing options is being funded to the tune of $310 million and includes: deployment of MX aboard a new, long-endurance continuous patrol aircraft; deep basing of the missiles several thousand feet underground; and ballistic missile defense, possibly in association with some form of “deceptive basing.” In the interim, while a long-term survivable deployment mode is being developed, the Administration has decided to deploy a minimum of forty MX missiles in existing Minuteman silos.

The Army, in step with the Air Force’s MX program, is slated to invest about $930 million in ballistic missile defense (BMD) in FY ’83. Secretary Weinberger cautioned that “today’s BMD technology is not adequate to defense against Soviet missiles,” adding there are questions about how well such systems will be able to work, what they will cost, and “how additional Soviet ballistic missile defenses—which would almost certainly be deployed in response to any US BMD system—would affect US and allied offensive capabilities.” Nevertheless, OSD announced that the Army’s “Low-Altitude Defense [LoAD] program will be restructured to accelerate development of an advanced terminal defense for ICBMs. Work will continue on the exoatmospheric overlay program to provide a 1990s response to unconstrained growth in Soviet reentry vehicles.”

The new budget request funds a three-pronged program to modernize the strategic bomber force. Over the near term, the Air Force’s 151 B-52Gs and ninety B-52Hs will be retrofitted with a new Offensive Avionics System and equipped with approximately 3,000 cruise missiles. As the penetration capability of these bombers declines during this decade, they will transition from penetrators to a “shoot-and-penetrate and eventually a pure standoff delivery role.” More than $1.8 billion is sought by the Air Force in FY ’83 for B-52 modifications and cruise missiles.

Step two in USAF’s bomber modernization program involves the production of 100 B-1Bs. FY ’83 funding of this program is pegged at $4.787 billion and provides for the acquisition of seven aircraft. Initial operational capability (IOC) of the new bomber is scheduled for 1986.

The third element of the bomber program involves development and production of an Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB or “Stealth”), with IOC expected in the 1990s. the funding levels ought for this program were not announced for security reasons. USAF’s Posture Statement stressed that “we are proceeding with development of the ATB at the fastest reasonable pace. We recognize that it is essential … to deploy a bomber that is effective across a range of combat applications and that it be durable and maintainable as well. Our ATB program is designed to meet these objectives. If technology and our development efforts permit, we will try to accelerate this important program. And if problems arise, we are determined to solve them effectively.”

The bottom line of the Air Force’s FY ’83 budget request for $78.6 billion (TOA—up by about $13.75 billion from this year) is captured by this introductory comment of Secretary Orr’s and General Allen’s statement: “It is the imperative to counterbalance Soviet military capabilities that sets our military requirements and fundamentally sizes and shapes our forces.” It is now up to Congress to heed this admonition.