Carlucci says that while enormous internal changes are taking place in the USSR, they are not yet reflected in Soviet policies of greatest concern to the West. He feels the US should “wait and see.”
Washington, D. C., Aug. 5—Based on the ‘information I have seen,” White House National Security Advisor Frank C. Carlucci is hesitant to treat internal and external Soviet reforms encapsulated by the word “glasnost” as a “genuine” and long-term move toward openness and reconciliation with the West. He acknowledged in a recent breakfast meeting with defense writers that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s widely touted glasnost might be nothing more than another cyclical gambit designed to “move us toward complacency.”
While he stressed in response to questions by this writer that “there are enormous internal changes taking place in the Soviet Union” and that Gorbachev appears fully committed to modernization, the White House official cautioned at the same time that “that has occurred before. More people were released from jail under Khrushchev than have been released under Gorbachev.”
Those internal changes that have been put into effect by Gorbachev, Mr. Carlucci cautioned, are not being reflected in Soviet policy, at least not in two areas of great concern to this country: “regional issues and human rights.” The war in Afghanistan is one of the key regional issues that remains troublesome: “The Soviets now have more troops in Afghanistan than they had [during the tenure of President Jimmy] Carter—some 30,000 more troops.”
Calling attention to recent “hardline” positions concerning that war taken by the Soviet leader, the White House National Security Advisor noted that “the Soviets are making noises about getting out [of Afghanistan], but we see no signs that they are really engaged in a serious effort to do so.” Equally conspicuous is the absence of “any serious effort to bring about the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.”
Citing particular aspects of unabated Soviet aggressiveness, he recommended the US take a “wait-and-see” attitude with regard to the meaning of glasnost. In this context, Mr. Carlucci called attention to a recent major arms shipment by the Soviets to Nicaragua. Also, Soviet activities with regard to the Persian Gulf crisis “have not been helpful.” Among these deleterious Soviet measures, he explained, was the ploy of recommending that all ships not belonging to regional powers be kept out of the Gulf—after the USSR arbitrarily had declared itself to be one of the regional powers of the Gulf area.
“In that part of the world,” he added, the Soviets also engage in the somewhat risky diplomacy of cultivating Iran without relinquishing their ties with Iraq. “There is no question about a major [Soviet] campaign to increase their presence in the Middle East.” The campaign, he underscored, proceeds in well-orchestrated fashion along military, diplomatic, economic, and propagandistic lines.
While he reiterated that some “prominent” people have been released from prison under Gorbachev’s glasnost policy, the White House official pointed out “that compared to what the requirements are and what could be done,” these amount to only token actions. Until there is evidence of an enduring Soviet commitment to a more “flexible” policy, the West, he suggested, is entitled to a “certain degree of skepticism.”
Turning to the pending bilateral US! USSR INF (long-range and short-range intermediate nuclear forces) accord, the White House official acknowledged that from the US point of view, its purpose is “principally” to set a historic “precedent by eliminating a group of weapon systems [in order to] create a psychology of movement” toward strategic arms reductions. He acknowledged that the pending INF accord causes the US to give up weapon systems in Europe—Pershing IIs and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs)—that are capable in a strategic sense of covering key parts of the Soviet target set in European Russia, whereas the Soviet INFs pose no equivalent strategic nuclear threat to the US proper.
As a consequence, the pending INF accord tends to skew an existing imbalance even further in favor of the USSR. Pentagon analyses affirm that the US hard-target capability residing in all available ballistic missiles and strategic bombers is only about half of what would be required to cover the strategic target set of the USSR under plausible scenarios. Conversely, the Soviet Union’s strategic arsenal has about twice the firepower needed to cope with all strategic targets in this country.
Acknowledging that under the presently envisioned terms of the INF accord the US “obviously would be giving up systems that could hit the Soviet Union,” the National Security Advisor explained that “we don’t think that results in any significant military insufficiency.”
Mr. Carlucci also reported that the Soviets could readily use their new mobile SS-25 ICBMs—and field them at an accelerating rate—to cover targets in NATO Europe that are now assigned to Soviet INFs, mainly SS-20s. The latter category of MIRVed long-range nuclear theater weapons apparently will be banned in toto by the pending INF accord. There is evidence that the SS-25 ICBMs are being “made in the same plant as the SS-20s,” thus pointing up the paramountcy of the on-site-inspection provisions of the pending INF agreement, Mr. Carlucci stressed.
On balance, the White House official suggested that the INF accord would nevertheless turn out to be advantageous because the number of Soviet SS-20s has been growing like rabbits.” Their elimination would benefit NATO and, hence. the US, which is a member of the alliance.
Verification and on-site-inspection procedures are clearly among the most ticklish aspects of the pending accord, Mr. Carlucci pointed out. The prospect of Soviet inspectors perambulating through US production facilities is dividing the US intelligence community and also posing questions in the “minds of some of our allies,” he added. Among the more stringent on-site-inspection plans under consideration are two-hour-notice “challenge inspections” and the stationing of six 100-member teams of “inspectors” in the other power’s territory.
Under this plan, the inspectors would have the right to gain short-notice access to any facility that could be suspected of producing weapon systems covered by the INF accord. Senate Democrats are allegedly considering the possibility of blocking ratification of the pending INF agreement for a variety of reasons that includes military disadvantages and intrusive inspection provisions.
Mr. Carlucci, when asked about these concerns, asserted that “it is premature to make a judgment about whether the inspection [measures] would be too intrusive or not adequate. The President is committed to the most effective verification that can be achieved.” He explained that the two-hour-notice “challenge inspection” provision may or may not come to pass and that it is being contested within the US intelligence community. Elements of that community, he explained, favor “some exemptions” to the challenge inspection procedures now under consideration.
Explaining that SALT II was “relatively easy to verify by [the largely space-based sensor systems lumped together under the designation of national technical means, or] NTM,” Mr. Carlucci reported that experts from various branches of government were in the midst of examining the adequacy of these devices and techniques with regard to INFs.
If both the INF accord and a future START (strategic arms reduction talks) agreement are signed—unless in the case of the latter “we can ban mobile missiles—we are going to have to deal with mobile missiles that are much harder to verify.” One of the fundamental problems with regard to an INF accord is that “we don’t know how many hidden missiles” the Soviets might have in reserve.
The White House’s National Security Advisor suggested that in order to verify an INF accord adequately, the US will “have to have more NTM” and “more than NTM,” meaning cooperative inspection arrangements. He added, however. “As I understand it, the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] position is [that] the current program that we have budgeted would be sufficient [eventually to meet] the verification requirements imposed on the NTM.”
This sufficiency, he pointed out, is based on acceptable probability bands. Additional verification capabilities could be attained by some “big shiny upgrades” of the NTM that might not necessarily represent cost-effective investments, he added. The White House official declined to discuss an alleged US proposal to ban the encryption of missile flight data pertinent to an INF accord on grounds that “we have not yet seen the final” language of the accord.
Mr. Carlucci did acknowledge that the Administration is counting on START rather than an INF accord to eliminate the possibility of Soviet “breakout.” As he put it, “We see no reason to stop with INF and clap our hands and say, ‘Whoopee! Everything is done.'” Pointing out that the strategic systems are probably the most threatening weapons, he emphasized that the Administration is determined to follow through on the “agreement in principle” to reduce them by fifty percent that was reached at the summit meeting in Iceland last fall.
So far as the seventy-two Pershing IA missiles—manned by West German forces but whose nuclear warheads are under US control—are concerned, Mr. Carlucci stressed that the Administration treats these weapons as “cooperative weapons” outside of the scope of INF negotiations.
A number of changes in how the NSC functions were made when Mr. Carlucci took over as the President’s National Security Advisor at the beginning of this year in the wake of the “Irangate” turmoil, he reported. Central here was a directive issued by the President that the NSC will neither “implement” nor “run” covert programs. This past practice, he suggested, created unavoidable conflicts of interest for the NSC, whose fundamental function is to serve as the “keeper of the system.”
The NSC, along with other elements of the executive branch of government, has been working on revisions of the procedures governing covert US actions and has put into effect several changes, “such as ‘zero-based review’ of covert actions,” Mr. Carlucci announced. The President “chaired and sat through [the meeting] as we reviewed every covert action program and terminated some.” Lastly, in another departure from past practices, all Presidential intelligence findings “will be in writing” and will be briefed to pertinent congressional committees.
Packard Commission Revisited
One year after the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management—popularly known as the Packard Commission—presented its hallmark recommendations, the group reconvened for a final assessment of their impact on Pentagon procedures. The “report card,” in the form of a public letter to the President by the group’s chairman, David Packard, gave the Pentagon’s implementation of the recommendations passing grades in some areas, but flunked it in others.
Among the group’s negative findings were acquisition-policy decisions contributing decisively to “the poor relations between the Department of Defense and industry [that] in time could seriously weaken the defense industrial base.” The Commission’s progress review also found that the Pentagon’s tendency to increase “contractors’ risks—for example, by using firm, fixed-price contracts for development of systems—while at the same time reducing their ability to deal with this risk by changes in progress payments and other policies will lead to reduced contractor investments in capital equipment and reduced Independent Research and Development.”
Criticism by the Commission reached a scathing crescendo in the assertion that “we are seeing today the same sort of acquisition-policy mistakes that characterized the enthusiasm for total package procurement in the 1960s—mistakes that produced the bitter contract claims disputes, contract restructuring, and bailout charges of the 1970s.”
Air Force Secretary Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., in a recent discussion with defense writers, strongly seconded these concerns of the Packard Commission. “We are,” he suggested “on the road to destroying our industrial base.” He called for an “across-the-board” reassessment of defense acquisition policies with an eye on letting contractors make “profits that are consistent with the risks’ that are entailed in high-tech programs.
Almost universally, he complained, “we have removed the incentives for defense industry to take the risks necessary to [advance] technology [to the degree needed] to support future weapon systems.” A number of measures—such as profit margin standards, progress payment procedures, and the trend toward more cost sharing—that by themselves look like good ideas “have the overall effect of reducing the incentive for contractors to invest in defense and take those risks necessary to move technology forward,” Secretary Aldridge warned.
The motivation behind these extreme acquisition standards, he said, is largely based on the spurious perception that the defense industry reaps higher profit margins than industry in general when in fact the opposite is true. Anybody doubting the veracity of this assertion ‘should ask around Wall Street. . . . They will tell you [that] defense profits lag behind the general margins,” Secretary Aldridge suggested.
While painting a generally gloomy picture, the Packard Commission’s latest assessment called attention to “one important, positive trend in the field of defense-industry relations—[to wit], significant efforts by industry and the Defense Department in the fields of industry self-governance and voluntary disclosure.”
Moreover, the Packard Commission charged that Congress’s habit of funding defense programs in an erratic fashion is “beginning to pose serious problems for our long-term national security.” Pointing out that for the last three years the actual congressional appropriations for defense have been significantly less than the amount in the budget forecast made by Congress the previous year, the Commission reiterated its original finding that “more defense can be provided per dollar appropriated within a stable program, sustained and predictable over several years.” Opposition in Congress to “adequate and stable levels of funding our defense” has denied that stability.
The Packard Commission roundly faulted the Defense Department on grounds that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition “has not been given adequate authority.” The letter to the President charged that the Department promulgated policies that “severely undercut the role of contracting officers and the ability of managers to direct programs successfully.”
Compounding the problem is the fact that “auditors have been given responsibilities outside their competence,” the Commission asserted. In addition, these auditors have been provided with a “separate chain of command in a way that, in effect, makes them rivals of contracting officers, [thereby] undercutting the acquisition plan we set forth to you—a plan that was based on strong program officers capable of effective management.”
This problem “results both from legislation that gives authority for audit policy to the Inspector General instead of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and from Defense Department implementation that assigns to defense auditors contractual responsibilities previously held by the contracting officer,” according to the Packard Commission.
Pointing out that even the best acquisition procedures and reforms will fail if the able managers who are needed to make them work can’t be attracted to government service, the Commission stressed the importance of reforms that make it possible for managers “with experience in, and understanding of, the relevant industries to serve in acquisition-related jobs in government.” But the letter notes that “current divestiture rules and their tax consequences and revolving-door legislation virtually prohibit such service for most people who have the relevant types of industrial experience.”
« As an integral element of the Administration’s formal overall national security strategy, President Reagan approved this summer specific policies governing US actions with regard to “low-intensity conflict.” The cornerstone of the US LIC strategy “is to act to prevent the onset of violence.” In line with this emphasis on deterrence, the new guidelines mandate “steps to discourage Soviet and other state-sponsored adventurism and increase the costs to those who use proxies or terrorist and subversive forces to exploit instability in the Third World.” Policy coordination for LIC is being assigned to a “Board for Low-Intensity Conflict, chaired at the National Security Council.”
This new organization was mandated by Congress last year by an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947. Among the provisions of the White House National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) is support of resistance movements “seeking freedom or self-determination that are acting in opposition to regimes inimical to US interests.” This support is to be provided in “political, informational, economic, and military” form on a selective basis. The overall tenor of the LIC strategy is to counter Soviet-sponsored destabilization of the Third World by “measures to strengthen selected nations facing internal and external threats to their independence and stability.”
The new LIC Board will be headed by the National Security Advisor, include representatives from such agencies as the State and Defense Departments as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, and confine its activities to policy coordination, “without any operational responsibilities.” Among the Board’s tasks is development of indicators of low-intensity conflict trends as well as formulation of policies governing US responses to evolving LIC situations.
« The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), reportedly requested that the White House furnish his committee copies of all NSDDs (national security decision directives), probably the most sensitive documents of the executive branch. Indications at this time are that the White House will refuse this request.
« Administration officials reject charges that the pending INF accord contains intrinsic blemishes by pointing out that the Pershing IIs and GLCMs the US would give up are basically “sitting ducks.” They contend that these systems are hardened to only five psi (pounds of overpressure per square inch) and in effect are “not mobile” because of constraints imposed by the NATO host countries.
« Air Force Secretary Aldridge recently disclosed that the Air Force last year had a net loss in the number of pilots. The service lost 375 more active-duty pilots than it produced in 1986. The cost of producing a combat-ready pilot is about $6 million.