Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I thank the chairman for his recognition.
I want to also thank Senator Levin for the kind remarks he made about my service on the committee. It has truly been an honor for me and a privilege to serve for 10 years on the Armed Services Committee. I say without reservation that my service on that committee is the most enjoyable aspect of anything I have done in the U.S. Senate. It is a truly bipartisan committee working for one purpose: To strengthen our Armed Forces, and to strengthen our national security, and to provide our men and women in uniform with the very best that we can under obviously difficult budget conditions.
It is the first responsibility of government to provide for the common defense. We are proud of the work that our men and women in uniform have done--their dedication, their commitment, their sacrifice, their loyalty, their duty, their honor--all virtues which are in short supply in this country today. There are few institutions left that honor those virtues. The military is one of them.
It has been a great pleasure for me over the past 10 years to be a part of that, to help shape those forces to address the needs and concerns, to look to the future to see what is needed, and to hopefully put in place those programs and policies that will address those needs in the future. It has not been easy.
The decade of the 1980s was clearly a great time to be serving on that committee. We had a challenging and important time. We had a demonstrated need. We had a demonstrated bipartisan commitment to address that need, and we had the resources to accomplish that. It all culminated in the most extraordinary and outstanding victory in the history of warfare. The United States' and the allies' performance in Desert Shield and Desert Storm was revolutionary in terms of the way warfare is dictated.
I will never forget the debate that we had both in committee and on the floor regarding what our participation should be in that situation, and the authorization for use of force, if necessary. Those were difficult times. We feared significant loss of life. And yet, the magnificent synergy of quality personnel, quality leadership, quality weapons, quality training, doctrine and command resulted in something that was truly extraordinary: A decisive victory in a very short period of time with minimal loss of life and injury--creating a dominant military the world has seldom witnessed in its history.
However, that was the culmination of the decade of the 1980s. Those were decisions that were made during the 1980s in terms of how we structure our forces, what kind of training and equipment we provide them, how we develop our leadership, and how we bring all of that together. The 1990s have been a different story. It has been a time of budget constraints. It has been a time of very significant cutbacks, a time of rejoicing over the fall of the Berlin Wall, over the fall of the Iron Curtain, the demise of a nuclear superpower that was challenging us for world superiority, not that we were looking for that, but that it was a triumph of an idea, a triumph of an idea of freedom, the concept of freedom, and an economic concept of free enterprise over totalitarianism and Marxism. That, obviously, led to major changes in the way we structured our defense.
The decade of the 1990s has been a transition period, a period in which budget limitations have driven very significant changes, a period in which the Department of Defense has contributed more to the elimination of deficit spending than perhaps all of the other aspects of Government combined. The little-told story about why we now have a surplus with our budget, why we have been able to control Government spending, is the contribution of the Department of Defense to that achievement. That contribution has overwhelmed all other contributions put together. The roughly 30-percent to 40-percent declines in spending in real dollars, the substantial downsizing of the military, the substantial downsizing in procurement, the substantial savings that have been achieved over what we would have had to spend had we maintained our military defense spending at the level of the 1980s, has made the most significant contribution to deficit reduction. And we shouldn't forget that fact. That has happened with a truly bipartisan effort.
So it has been a joy for me to work with my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, on these issues. Have we had differences of opinion? Yes. Have we had difficult debates? Closed-door debates? Yes. But in the end we have always forged a consensus, and we have done so because foremost in our minds was providing for the common defense in an effective way and looking out for the needs and the interests of our service personnel.
Mr. President, let me just briefly comment on the fiscal year 1999 defense authorization bill that has just come out of committee and that we are addressing here on the floor. First of all, I want to start with quality of life and briefly touch on that.
I served for 4 years as ranking member and 2 years as chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee.
While I still serve on that committee, I no longer am chairman. I will leave much of the details of what that committee has done to Senator Kempthorne and the ranking member. However, I view this as the No. 1 priority of the committee in establishing our budget because no weapon, no doctrine, no training manual, nothing can take the place of quality personnel. And so our goal has been to attract the very best we can, to retain those personnel, and to provide them with the essentials of what they need, and to provide for them a standard of living that is commensurate with their sacrifice.
Let me say that no standard of living that we can provide is commensurate with the kind of hours and the kind of sacrifice and the kind of commitments that are made by our military personnel, but we try to do the best we can. Over the years they have been shortchanged in terms of housing. They have been shortchanged in terms of pay. And they have been shortchanged in terms of benefits. We have tried to make up for some of that. It is certainly better than it was but nowhere equal to the kind of commitment and the demands that we ask of our military personnel. Yet, day after day, year after year, they continue to provide the kind of effort and the kind of service that is unheard of in the private sector, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude as a Nation. It means that we need to keep their pay consistent with pay on the outside.
Today, we are attempting to attract people who are skilled in technical areas, who have the capacity and the capability and the training and the experience to employ today's modern military equipment using today's advanced operational concepts. It is not just simply foot soldiers carrying heavy loads, walking through the mud, although that will always be an essential part of our military as it needs to be. But it is that foot soldiers and everyone else involved in our military are today operating very sophisticated, modern equipment. They need to think on their feet. They need to have capabilities in terms of information processing, in terms of utilizing the latest in technologies, in weapons and computers and information sources that are commensurate with what is needed in the private sector.
And so we have to have the incentives in place, and pay in place to allow us to compete, and to attract and to retain these personnel.
In that regard, we have provided in this bill a 3.1-percent pay raise for military personnel. We also provide an increase of $500 million in military construction projects, $164 million of which will fund barracks, dining facilities, and military housing. If there is a shortfall in terms of what we have done for our troops over the years, it is military housing. Much of it, nearly two-thirds of military housing is substandard, substandard by military code, military, not commercial standards --and the military standards in many cases are not up to the same level as private standards--and yet year after year we ask our military families to live in this housing. It is inadequate housing, it is substandard housing, and they do so without complaint. We owe it to them, to the single soldiers and airmen and marines, men and women, and to their families. We owe it to them to give them affordable, decent housing.
We are underway with an initiative that was started by Secretary Perry to, in many cases, privatize or leverage the ability of the Department of Defense to utilize private contractors to provide military housing in arrangements which allow us to make maximum use of the funds we have, to leverage those funds in the way that the private sector leverages their money to address this housing shortfall, and so we are underway with that.
Health care is another major issue. I won't go into that. I will let Senator Kempthorne address that. This is a major concern of our military personnel, something that needs to be addressed. We are in the transition period with that also, and there are many questions that need to be answered. We attempt to do some of that in this bill including the direction of three health care
demonstrations for our military retirees who are Medicare eligible: one related to FEHBP; one related to TRICARE; and one related to mail order pharmacy benefits. I support these initiatives, but more needs to be done.
Let me now talk about readiness. The bill also adds over $400 million to the readiness account levels requested in the President s budget for our Active and Reserve Forces. We are all aware of the demand on readiness with our commitments overseas--Bosnia and the Persian Gulf, to name just two, and there are many, many more. These are stretching our capacity. These are costly. They affect our readiness and our ability to sustain the preparedness of the force. And we need to understand that this is a major concern which should be continually monitored and addressed by the Congress.
I want to focus most of my comments, though, Mr. President, on the modernization question. For years we have deferred modernization of our weapons systems and of our equipment--trucks, radios, and basic equipment. We have deferred that modernization because we have not had the resources available to fund quality of life, readiness, all other aspects of our national defense such as research and development, as well as the modernization of weapon platforms and systems.
Now, this underfunding of modernization was done with the understanding that by fiscal year 1998, which we are now in, and we are dealing with the 1999 fiscal year with this budget, we will have ended this pause where we have downsized our modernization spending by as much as 70 percent over previous levels. And the understanding, the promise, was that this administration would bring procurement back to at least a $60 billion a year procurement level in fiscal year 1998 in order to replace aging tanks, aging planes, and aging equipment. This is what was originally programmed and projected. Not all of us thought that was attainable. We thought that we were doing less than we should. We were able to secure some funds to plus-up some of that modernization in the past but at levels far below what was recommended to us by experts outside the military and by military personnel who were looking at this question.
Well, here we are with an increased modernization budget but still at a $50 billion level, not the $60 billion level we were supposed to have achieved last year. So, again, modernization accounts remain on the margin. We are unable to modernize in a way that we believe is most effective from a cost standpoint and from a requirements standpoint. We have increased procurement in some areas. And I think we appreciate the ability to gain some extra funds for that, but I just want our colleagues to know there is no basis on which to come to this floor and criticize the Armed Services Committee for spending too much on new systems. We are still spending too little on the modernization of our military forces. We are below what the Department of Defense has told us, well below what they have told us is required to replace the aging weapons systems that we currently use, and recapitalize our joint warfighting capabilities.
Several of these modernization issues come through my committee. I am privileged to chair the Airland Committee. Let me just talk about some of these major procurement items.
First, the land portion of this--land power. The committee has held hearings on land power, and we are pleased to note that the Marine Corps advances in urban warfare experiments and revolutionary expeditionary capabilities with the MV22 and the AAAV seem to be on schedule. They are important in the future.
We are also pleased that the Army is moving forward to consolidate gains it has learned from its Force XXI process. And that the Army says it is investigating the transformation to the faster, smaller, more lethal and more deployable force structure it will need in the 21st Century. But the Army's modernization strategy to pursue this modernization is short particularly in some of the less glamorous areas of aviation, armored vehicles, and trucks. The committee has added provisions which address these issues. Again, there is not as much procurement for landpower as we would like, but at least we are moving in the right direction.
I want to say, Mr. President, that we have also made some very significant progress in this whole question of addressing Reserve component modernization. Thanks to the fine work of Senator Glenn in particular, and committee and staff, we have for the very first time structured what I believe is a coherent process in determining Guard and Reserve procurement. For the first time, the budget request by the Department has included a substantial amount of funds for National Guard and Reserve procurement--a $1.4 billion level, which is a 50-percent increase over last year. Our mark adds to this another $700 million.
But the important point to note here is that all of the additions that we have added for the Army Guard were requested by the Army Chief of Staff, including Blackhawk helicopters to enhance tactical airlift, new and remanufactured trucks that improve our transportation capabilities and reduce operating costs, and radios that enable the Guard to integrate with the Active Army's tactical internet. Clearly, the Senate's bipartisan efforts in this regard have had a very positive effect on the whole concept of total force integration.
As we look at limited defense budgets on and over the horizon, and as we look at ways in which we assess the threats of the future, and at our ability to deploy, and at the cost of those overseas deployments, and at our ability to preposition equipment, and at, perhaps, the denial of access to facilities overseas--to landing strips, sea ports, and bases--we need total force integration across our Active Army, and our Army Reserves, and our Army National Guard. And in order to accomplish that, we need to dispense with the former practice of making the Guard and Reserve budget requests a secondary priority to that of the Active Army, but to make them an integral part of the budget request sent over from the Department of Defense. The Department needs to assess what the Reserve components need, and they need to tell us that in the budget request, and then we need to look at that as an integrated requirement, rather than as two separate entities.
We have begun, under the prodding of the SASC, that process of total force integration and taken a significant step forward this year. I commend the Department for doing that and we need to do more for total force integration in the future.
Let me talk about TACAIR, tactical aircraft. We have held a number of hearings on TACAIR to assess the status of the F/A18-E/F, Super Hornet and the F-22 Raptor. The Navy and the Director for Operational Test and Evaluation provided their assessment that the Super Hornet's, the F/A18-E/F, the wing-drop and buffeting issues have been fixed, and that the program should proceed with production as planned. This authorization supports those funds requested for the F/A18-E/F.
These issues with the Super Hornet were not as serious as many had thought. They were, really, reported as being more serious than they were. However, they were issues that needed to be addressed. The Department of the Navy and the contractors have successfully addressed these issues, and I am pleased that the F/A18-E/F program will proceed as planned.
Now, let me speak about the F-22. Last year I spoke on the floor at length about my concerns with F-22 cost overruns and demonstrated performance. And I want to state for the record here, up front, I address these issues as a supporter of F-22 development, not as a critic of the F-22. And I spoke last year because was concerned that if we don't keep our arms around this issue and keep a good, clear oversight of the issue, the F-22 may run into very serious problems in terms of funding and in terms of support for that funding. And I don't want to jeopardize that. Based on the testimony of the Air Force and the assessment of the General Accounting Office and other entities, there are many who share a deep concern over whether or not we can maintain support for the F-22 if costs continue to escalate toward $200 million per aircraft. So we need, and we ask for, adequate demonstration of performance and cost control.
The bill that is before us authorizes the requested F-22 funding levels. I want to repeat that. The bill before us, for those who are supporters of F-22--and there are many here, because it is a marvelous new leap-ahead technology that is important for our national security and our national defense in the future--many support this marvelous new development in technology that is going to provide the basis for Air Force air dominance capabilities in TACAIR for many, many years in the future. We have authorized every penny that has been requested for next year's budget in order to continue developing the F-22. But we have put some key oversight provisions in place that will help the Congress
and help the administration keep the program on track. And the reason we have done this is because there is a great deal in jeopardy if we don't do that.
Several things could happen if we cannot control F-22 costs, none of which are good. One, we could end up treating F-22 as we ended up treating B-2, another leap-ahead technology that provided us with one of the most amazing developments in long-range strategic aircraft that any nation has ever enjoyed. But we ended up producing far fewer than what we had planned because the cost per copy had escalated so high we just simply couldn't afford to produce more. While the threat today doesn't necessarily justify additional B-2s, the threat of tomorrow could and we won't have those planes. We don't want that to happen to the F-22.
Second, we could lose support for other key systems that are necessary to provide for our future defense needs, such as carriers, Comanche, V-22. We could jeopardize those systems if the cost overruns for F-22 escalate to the point where we are spending more money on that program, and we have to take it from somewhere else. And I am afraid we would have to take it from these key and necessary weapons platforms that we require in the future.
Or third, we could lose the ability to produce what we need of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Joint Strike Fighter is the complement to the F-22 that is coming on at a later date. It is currently in its early stages of its engineering and manufacturing development, and we could jeopardize this program if F-22 costs grow. The reason why we cannot allow that to happen is that the Navy and the Marines are absolutely depending on the Joint Strike Fighter to provide stealth and to address their other TACAIR needs for the future, just as the Air Force is depending on F-22 to address their needs.
In fact, the Marine Corps has staked their entire TACAIR future on Joint Strike Fighter. So we have to be careful that we preserve our ability to go forward with the conventional variant, the carrier variant, and the short take-off / vertical land (STO/VL) variant of the JSF. And that is why we have placed some prudent oversight provisions on F-22.
Here is what we have done and here is why we did it. When we reviewed the F-22 program, the Air Force planned F-22 flight tests beginning in May of 1997 with a contract award for the Lot I production scheduled in June 1999. Lot 1 is the first two production planes, which are followed by a Lot 2 of six aircraft. And this gets a little esoteric here--they planned for that contract award for June of 1999 when there would be 601 hours of flight testing complete, which is 14 percent of the total flight-test program.
The 14 percent is an important threshold because the Defense Science Board Report of 1995 on the F-22 production noted that most of the `program killer'--how they describe it, `program killer' problems are usually discovered in the first 10 to 20 percent of developmental flight tests.
Our experience in the past has demonstrated that somewhere in that 10- to 20-percent range we find the kind of problems that can potentially terminate or cause major modifications to the technical specifications of the program that are so significant they don't justify the expense to go forward and fix the problem. You almost have to go back to page 1 of the program, and obviously that puts it in great jeopardy. So we were concerned that before we execute a contract for production, we reach a threshold level of testing, flight testing that would give us some assurance that executing that contract would be wise--a wise business decision, and a decision in the best interests of our taxpayers, but also in line with our defense needs before we executed that contract.
Unfortunately, this F-22 flight testing program has had to slip. The first flight was nearly 4 months late. Instead of May of 1997, it was in September 1997. Another test flight had to be canceled. To date, only 3 hours of flight time have been accumulated. In addition, the program is experiencing manufacturing delays of up to five months. And we have already had the previous assessment of a Joint Evaluation Team of Air Force and industry experts that concluded the F-22 program would significantly exceed its cost estimates and that it should be restructured to reduce risk. This caused us to reallocate a very significant amount of funds, $2.2 billion, to get the program back on sound footing.
Yet, despite all these problems, the Air Force wants to move the contract award not back, not to keep it at the same level, but to move it forward 6 months when the program hopes to have only 4 percent of its flight testing
We have had a lot of debate about this. We have had hearings. We have heard from the contractors. We have heard from the Air Force. We have heard from outside witnesses. We have heard from experts. We have debated among ourselves. And I believe we have reached an acceptable consensus as to how we ought to address this particular problem.
We need to address it because the obvious answer, the first answer that comes to mind, is, `Well, let's just delay; let's just delay until they get to 14 percent.' I wish it were that easy. Delay means that the prime contractors have to cease a schedule of lining up subcontractors, of establishing production lines, of hiring workers--a myriad of tasks that have to be accomplished, people who have to be hired, procedures that have to be put in place--and that delay costs a great deal of money and can break the production base of the program.
We have had this very complicated schedule to put together. We are talking about one of the most complex and difficult development processes and production processes that anybody can imagine. This involves a great deal of effort, time, and cost. To delay that incurs considerable risk and considerable cost.
By the same token, going forward without adequate testing produces a great deal of risk--risk that the F-22 will not turn out as we hope it turns out, risk that the flight testing between the current level, the 4-percent level, or the 14-percent level will turn up something that is a showstopper, that is a `program killer.' So we are trying to balance this risk against the cost of delay.
In addition to this, there has been a very complex set of negotiations that have taken place with the Air Force and the contractor, in particular, that imposes a fixed-price contract for these initial production aircraft. The Air Force states: `This is all the money you are going to get. No matter what problems come up, we're not going to give you more, so you have to operate under the fixed-price contract.'
The contractor comes back and says: `Well, if we have to operate under the fixed-price contract, you can't delay the contract, because there is no way we can meet the goal of producing what you want us to produce at the time you want us to produce it under the cost cap that you have imposed on us if you delay the contract and production process.'
So all of this has to be put into the mix and a decision must be made in terms of how we proceed.
This is what we decided to do: No. 1, we are going to approve the budget request for the full funding of continued development for the F-22. However, we are going to put what we call a fence--that is, we are going to put some of the what we call long lead money, money that is going to be spent in the future on items that allow us to prepare for production--we are going to put that money in a category which says it will not be released for expenditure until a couple of things happen.
First of all, I need to point out, we are going to go ahead and produce and buy the Lot I series of F-22 which consists of two aircraft. We are going to keep that on schedule. There are no restraints on that, no holds, no fences, no conditions. This is underway. We need to proceed. We are going to buy those first two planes.
Lot II consists of the next six planes. What we are going to do is say that advance procurement of lot II F-22s, the next six aircraft, cannot commence until we reach a threshold level of 10 percent of testing, which is the minimum that was specified by the Defense Science Board back in 1995--not the 14 percent, but the 10 percent. Remember, they gave us the range of 10 to 20 percent. We thought 14 percent was an adequate number. We are going to drop that down to 10 percent. That is the minimum. So there is still
risk, and we are trying to minimize risk and balance risk against cost.
We are going to fence that money until 10 percent of testing is complete or until the Secretary of Defense certifies to us that a lesser amount of flight testing is sufficient and provides his rationale and analysis for that certification. And we are also requiring the Secretary to certify that it is financially advantageous to proceed to Lot II production, aircraft three through eight, rather than wait for completion of the 10 percent of the currently planned test schedule.
That last portion is something Senator Levin suggested. The first portion is what I suggested. The two together, I believe, form a good basis for us to impose upon the Secretary of Defense a certification and verification process that provides us the necessary assurance that they have kept their eyes on the program, have determined through testing that if that level is 8, 8 1/2 , 9 or 9 1/2 , that is sufficient. There is no magic to the 10-percent number. Again, it was selected because the Defense Science Board set it as its minimum. However, we have new production techniques, we have new manufacturing processes in place for this plane, which have never been done before. And if we can, through simulation, if we can, through other procedures, determine that we have adequate information relative to the performance and capabilities of this plane to go into production at a lower level of demonstrated performance, then the Secretary can certify that for us.
He can't do that if the flight testing is less than 4 percent. We have to get to at least that level. Of course, that is the level suggested to us by the Air Force as necessary, and that is the level they currently plan to achieve before contract award. Those are the necessary flight test hours that are required to move up the contract award 6 months.
Those are the committee's efforts to try to balance risk with excess cost for delay and put in place a process that will give us the opportunity to have the oversight and to force the Secretary of Defense to keep his focus on the F-22 program and on any kind of cost escalation that might jeopardize the program.
We have reached this accord with the significant help of members on both sides of the committee. The committee was unanimous, Republicans and Democrats--unanimous--that this is the procedure that we ought to put in place. So there is complete bipartisan support for this effort.
I am urging my colleagues, and I have already had discussions with some of our House colleagues about why this is important. This should not be an item for compromise. We have made some very, very tough decisions here.
Mr. President, in moving away from TACAIR, let me talk for a moment about defense transformation, something Senator Lieberman and I have worked on diligently in the past several years. I am pleased he has joined me on the floor, and I know we will hear from him about this when I am finished.
Defense transformation is, I think, a necessary process to address the threats of the future and to have the capability to deal with those threats. What happens under defense transformation will bear fruit 10 or 15 or 20 or more years from now. Just as the astounding success of Desert Storm was the result of decisions made in the late seventies and throughout the eighties, the successes that we can achieve in addressing threats of the future in the year 2014 or the year 2020 or beyond will be determined by the decisions that are made today, and in 2001, and 2003, and 2007.
Those decisions--in terms of the kind of platforms and equipment that we purchase, in terms of the kind of doctrine that we develop to address those new threats, in terms of the kind of forces that we structure, in terms of the kind of assessments that we make of those threats and the response to those threats --those decisions will be made now and in the next several years. And we will understand the significance of that well beyond the time that most of us will still be in the U.S. Senate.
But we owe it to the future--just as those who made the decisions in the late 1970s and in the 1980s provided for the future success of our national defense strategy in the late 1980s and 1990s--we owe it to the future and future generations to make the right decisions now.
We know that the threats of the future will be different than the threats of the past. Few, if any, tyrants or dictators or world leaders will ever again amass forces in a desert situation and line them up in traditional warfare and take on the capabilities that the United States demonstrated during the Gulf War.
No dictator is going to pour tens and hundreds of billions of dollars into building the kind of defense structure that the United States annihilated in Desert Storm. They are going to be looking at different types of threats, threats that we call asymmetric, not what is typical, not what we expect, not the war of the past, but the war of the future.
Historians will tell you that those who fight wars based on the last war lose the next war--because their adversaries are always adjusting, always evaluating and transforming. We saw that with Blitzkrieg; we saw that in naval aviation and a number of ways throughout history. The last thing we want to do is maintain the status quo, because the status quo will not be adequate to address threats of the future. So defense transformation is necessary. It is necessary to prepare us for the future. But how do we transform our military capabilities?
The Armed Services Committee has focused on this issue. A couple of years ago we authorized what we call the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). It simply means once every 4 years there is a review of the threats, and the processes and capabilities we have put in place as the means by which we address those threats. This QDR was an internal process. It was a process that takes place within the Department of Defense.
We believe there needs to be an ongoing, continuing process, a continual update and assessment of the threat, and how we address that threat, and what changes need to be made, and what structures need to be imposed in order to successfully address those threats in the future.
With that, we combined the QDR with a process which we labeled the National Defense Panel (NDP). It was a selection of outside experts who took a look at the same situation, a second opinion, if you will. Faced with a serious disease, people should--and I think in most cases do--get a second opinion. We don't just go to the very first doctor and say, `Well, that sounds good. Let's go ahead.' And we should treat our national security the same way. `This is so serious, potentially life threatening, I want a second opinion before I make a decision.' The NDP was our second opinion, but it was an outside opinion.
We worked closely with Secretary Perry, Deputy Secretary White, and others to fashion how we select these individuals for the NDP, and how we put this process together. It was led by Phil Odeen, chairman of the National Defense Panel, and with distinguished and recognized outside thinkers, experts, and experienced people with military background and training.
That panel produced an extraordinary report which ought to be one of the blueprints for the future. We have combined this external NDP process with the internal QDR process to try to lay out an assessments of where we are, where we are going, and how we will get there. Our defense authorization bill this year includes a sense of the Congress on a key process at the foundation of
fulfilling some of these requirements--the designation of a combatant commander who has the mission of developing, preparing, conducting, and assessing a process of joint warfare experimentation.
This joint warfighting experimentation is at the foundation of this whole defense transformation. Basically, what this process says is that before we rush into what Senator Coats or Senator Lieberman or the Armed Services Committee, or even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the Secretary of Defense, thinks is the direction we ought to go, let us test it, let us test some ideas, let us experiment, let us look at how we develop all of this, let us take the good ideas and throw out the bad, let us not just commit to something that turns out 4 or 5 years from now to be the wrong item or the wrong direction.
Secretary Cohen is reviewing currently, for his signature, a charter which would assign the mission of joint warfighting experimentation to a combatant commander, the Commander in Chief of US Atlantic Command (USACOM) in Norfolk. We have met with Secretary Cohen. And we met with General Shelton and Admiral Gehman, the CINC of USACOM. They have worked with us to craft this language. We have their full support.
We are not going forward here thinking that we know all the answers to these issues. We are not the experts. We have some ideas and we would like to move them forward. And we have bounced them off the Department. And we have worked together. And we have structured something which we agree on. I visited USACOM. I visited their joint training and simulation center, and their joint battle lab. And I can report, Mr. President, that progress is being made to develop the foundation for this joint experimentation process.
The Senate, I believe, has been keenly aware of the need to transform our military capabilities to address the potentially very different challenges we are going to face in the future. The National Defense Panel report argues that these challenges--which include things such as challenges in power projection, information operations, and weapons of mass destruction--can place our security at far greater risk than what we face today.
Correspondingly, the NDP recommended establishing this combatant command which will drive the transformation of our military capabilities through this process of joint experimentation. The NDP testified that the need for this joint experimentation process is `absolutely critical' and `urgent.' I am pleased that the Department of Defense has been so cooperative in working with us in helping to establish this new mission for a command and this new process. The resounding consensus from several hearings on defense transformation that we have held in the committee support the combination of joint and service experimentation as the foundation for the transformation of military capabilities to address the operational challenges of the future.
So we are taking joint and service experimentation, and combining our efforts, those best efforts and forces of our services and of our unified commanders, along with individual service experimentation initiatives--Force XXI, Sea Dragon--and a whole number of other joint and individual service processes, and looking at ways in which we take the very best insights as the basis for developing our capabilities for the future.
This process of experimentation is designed to investigate the co-evolution of advances in technology, with changes in the organizational structure of our forces, and with the development of new operational concepts. The purpose of joint experimentation is to determine those technologies, those organizations, and those concepts which will provide a leap-ahead in joint warfighting capability. Just as we are looking to leap-ahead technologies in platforms, aircraft carriers, joint strike fighters, et cetera, we are looking for leap-ahead development in concepts, and in doctrine, and in force structure.
As I said earlier, it is just as important to select winners as it is to determine losers. Under joint experimentation, failure can be a virtue. We know everything will not be a success. We do not want to reward failure, but we want to recognize failure as important to determining what works and what does not. The worst thing we could do is make a commitment to a major change in doctrine, operational concepts, weapon systems, or force structure only to find out that it does not address the relevant threats of the future. It is through experimentation that we can distinguish the true leap-aheads in capability, from those that fall short.
Identifying these failures will be just as important to our achieving success in transformation, as identifying the leap-aheads themselves because it will allow us, in a time of limited budget, to deploy and to utilize our resources in the most effective way.
We cannot afford to do what we did in the 1980s. The threat was so great, the work that we had to do was so needed, the status of our defense forces and our national security was so at risk, that we had to risk failure to determine success. But we had the budget to accommodate this failure if we had to. We had the budget to experiment and still develop all the potential systems. We don't have that luxury anymore. We don't have the kind of funds that were available in the 1980s. Therefore, we must be selective. And therefore we must have a process which allows us to determine what is the wisest course of action to take.
Mr. President, previously in our history this country has found itself unprepared for the threats we have faced at the outset of war. With God's grace and with the magnificent commitment and response of the American people, we have always rallied to eventually overcome these threats to our freedom.
That was always done at a cost, not only the fiscal cost to the taxpayer, but the cost in terms of the lives of young people who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We are currently contemplating the construction of a World War II memorial down on The Mall. It will join the Vietnam memorial. It will join a tribute to the Korean war. It will join other monuments to wars that this country has fought which ought to sober all of us and remind us of the tremendous cost we had to pay in order to secure and maintain our freedom, and to provide freedom for millions of people around the world.
Previously in this nation's history, we have found ourselves unprepared for the threats we faced at the outset of war. Because we were unprepared, we were vulnerable. Because we were vulnerable, we were exploited. And we had no choice but to respond. We did so, but we did so often at a terrible cost. It was worth the cost because we have maintained our freedom and we enjoy that freedom today. But we desperately want to learn from our history how to avoid those circumstances. And the tragedy that we should have learned is that being unprepared for the threats we face at the outset of conflict results in the need to build significant memorials to those who sacrifice their lives, and to those whose lives were correspondingly changed forever--those families, those relatives, those friends. All this because we failed to prepare for the relevant threats that confront us.
We desperately want to avoid this situation. We know we will be facing different threats in the future. We know that the way we are currently constituted doesn't necessarily prepare us to address those threats successfully. Obviously, the most successful thing we can do is ensure we are never vulnerable to be exploited in the first place--to be so prepared and to be so strong that no adversary desires to take us on. For us to achieve this preparedness, it is going to take a transformation in thinking. And it is going to take a transformation in structuring our military forces and in our operational concepts for us to be prepared to address the threats of the future. The joint experimentation program is one piece of the puzzle in terms of how we transform our capabilities to do that, and this bill supports that effort. In short, joint experimentation is essential to ensuring that our Armed Forces are prepared to address the security challenges of the 21st century.
In conclusion--I have taken a long time--the bill makes great strides in improving quality of life, readiness, and modernization of the force. And this bill also lays the framework for the transformation of defense capabilities to address the operational challenges envisioned in the 21st century.
I want to acknowledge and thank the distinguished service of our chairman, Senator Thurmond, who has provided such diligence and tremendous effort as chairman of this committee. He has been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee for nearly 40 years. This will mark his last defense authorization bill as chairman of the committee. He will always be chairman in our hearts, and chairman emeritus of that committee, and will continue to make significant contributions. What a privilege it has been for this
Senator to serve under this distinguished leadership of this distinguished member who has given so much to this committee!
I also thank Senator Glenn for his support and stewardship of defense issues in this, our last defense authorization bill. People have said, `What has happened to our heroes in this country?' John Glenn is a genuine American hero--first to orbit the Earth, and now, at the age of 77, at the termination of a distinguished Senate career, he will climb back in the shuttle and orbit the Earth once again. I think that is one of the most remarkable achievements of this century. And we recognize him for that.
Senator Levin, as ranking member, has made an outstanding contribution to our efforts. Many others, up and down the committee, have also played very significant roles in this. Again, I say this is a truly bipartisan effort.
Finally, without the support of our staff, this could not have been accomplished: Les Brownlee, staff director; and his counterpart David Lyles as minority staff director; our committee staff, Steve Madey and John Barnes who have been so helpful to me on the Airland Subcommittee; Charlie Abell, who I think is on the floor here, was so helpful to me during my time as Personnel Subcommittee chairman.
My personal staff--Frank Finelli, Pam Sellars, Bruce Landis, Sharon Soderstrom, and others--has been so helpful. I couldn't do it without their help.
And in closing, I wish to state that this defense bill has my full support, and I strongly encourage all members to support it.