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

Section I


The Cold War is behind us. The Soviet Union is no longer the threat that drove our defense decision-making for four and a half decades--that determined our strategy and tactics, our doctrine, the size and shape of our forces, the design of our weapons, and the size of our defense budgets--is gone.

Now that the Cold War is over, the questions we face in the Department of Defense are: How do we structure the armed forces of the United States for the future? How much defense is enough in the post-Cold War era?

Several important events over the past four years underscore the revolutionary nature of recent changes in the international security environment and shed light on this new era and on America's future defense and security requirements.

In the aftermath of such epochal events, it has become clear that the framework that guided our security policy during the Cold War is inadequate for the future. We must determine the characteristics of this new era, develop a new strategy, and restructure our armed forces and defense programs accordingly. We cannot, as we did for the past several decades, premise this year's forces, programs, and budgets on incremental shifts from last year's efforts. We must rebuild our defense strategy, forces, and defense programs and budgets from the bottom up.

The purpose of the Bottom-Up Review was to define the strategy, force structure, modernization programs, industrial base, and infrastructure needed to meet new dangers and seize new opportunities.

An Era of New Dangers

Most striking in the transition from the Cold War is the shift in the nature of the dangers to our interests, as illustrated below:

New Dangers (Figure 1)
Global threat from massive Soviet nuclear and conventional forces Spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons Aggression by major regional powers or ethnic and religious conflict Potential failure of democratic reform in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere Potential failure to build a strong and growing U.S. economy

The new dangers fall into four broad categories:

Our armed forces are central to combating the first two dangers and can play a significant role in meeting the second two. Our predictions and conclusions about the nature and characteristics of these dangers will help mold our strategy and size and shape our future military forces.

An Era of New Opportunities

Today, there is promise that we can replace the East-West confrontation of the Cold War with an era in which the community of nations, guided by a common commitment to democratic principles, free-market economics, and the rule of the law, can be significantly enlarged.

As Figure 2 shows, beyond new dangers there are new opportunities: realistic aspirations that, if we dedicate ourselves to pursue worthy goals, we can reach a world of greater safety, freedom, and prosperity. Our armed forces can contribute to this objective. In brief, we see new opportunities to:

New Opportunities (Figure 2)
Slim hope of diminished dangers Expand security partnerships Build community of democratic nations Improve regional deterrence Implement dramatic nuclear reductions Protect U.S. security with fewer resources

Enduring U.S. Goals

Despite these revolutionary changes in our security environment, the most basic goals of the United States have not changed. They are to:

In addition to these fundamental goals, we have core values that we have an interest in promoting. These include democracy and human rights, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and the maintenance of open markets in the international economic system. The advancement of these core values contributes significantly to the achievement of our fundamental national goals: our nation will be more secure in a world of democratic and pluralistic institutions, and our economic well-being will be enhanced by the maintenance of an open international economic system.

A Strategy of Engagement, Prevention, and Partnership

To protect and advance these enduring goals in this new era, the United States must pursue a strategy characterized by continued political, economic, and military engagement internationally. Such an approach helps to avoid the risks of global instability and imbalance that could accompany a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from security commitments. It also helps shape the international environment in ways needed to protect and advance U.S. objectives over the longer term, and to prevent threats to our interests from arising.

Moreover, we must adapt our defense policies and alliances to meet fast-moving changes both at home and abroad. We and our allies need to modify and build upon the basic bargains upon which our security relationships are based, and begin now to define and create new mutual expectations, arrangements, and institutions to help manage our affairs in the coming decades.

This strategy of engagement will be defined by two characteristics: prevention and partnership. It advocates preventing threats to our interests by promoting democracy, economic growth and free markets, human dignity, and the peaceful resolution of conflict, giving first priority to regions critical to our interests. Our new strategy will also pursue an international partnership for freedom, prosperity, and peace. To succeed, this partnership will require the contributions of our allies and will depend on our ability to establish fair and equitable political, economic, and military relationships with them.

Our primary task, then, as a nation is to strengthen our society and economy for the demanding competitive environment of the 21st century, while at the same time avoiding the risks of precipitous reductions in defense capabilities and the overseas commitments they support. Such reductions could defeat attempts to improve both our overall security situation and our prosperity.

Sustaining and Adapting Alliances

Building a coalition of democracies will be central to achieving this overarching objective. The common values and objectives of democratic nations provide a basis for cooperation across a broad spectrum of policy areas, from deterrence and defense against aggression to the promotion of individual and minority rights. We can strive to make the most of this commonality of values and interests by expanding and adapting mechanisms to facilitate policy coordination and cooperation among democracies.

A continued willingness on the part of th United States to act as a security partner and leader will be an important factor in sustaining cooperation in many areas. Our strategy therefore envisions that the United States will remain the leading security partner in Europe, East Asia, the Near East, and Southwest Asia. However, we must find ways to sustain our leadership at lower cost. for their part, our allies must be sensitive to the linkages between a sustained U.S. commitment to their security on the one hand, and their actions in such areas as trade policy, technology transfer, and participation in multinational security operations on the other.

Finally, we must encourage the spread of democratic values and institutions. In this regard, the collapse of the former Soviet empire presents an unparalleled opportunity to bring peace and prosperity to millions of people who have expressed a clear desire to join the community of democracies.

Objectives and Methodology of the Bottom-Up Review

We undertook the Bottom-Up Review to select the right strategy, force structure, modernization programs, and supporting industrial base and infrastructure to provide for American's defense in the post-Cold War era.

List 3 below, shows the step-by-step process we used to develop key assumptions, broad principles, and general objectives and translate them into a specific plan for our strategy, forces, and defense resources. These steps included:

With the Bottom-Up Review now complete, we will utilize its results to build a multi-year plan for America's future security, detailing the forces, programs, and defense budgets the United States needs to protect and advance its interest in the post-Cold War era.

List 3

Methodology of the Bottom-Up Review

  1. Assess the post-Cold War era
  2. Devise U.S. Defense Strategy
  3. Construct Force Building Blocks
  4. Combine Force Building Blocks
  5. Decisions for Bottom-Up Review
    • Force Structure
    • Modernization
    • Defense Foundations
    • Policy Initiatives
  6. Build Multi-Year Defense Plan

The Bottom-Up Review represented a close collaboration between the civilian and military sectors of the Department of Defense (DoD). Task forces were established--including representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Joint Staff, the unified and specified commands, each of the armed services and, where appropriate, other defense agencies--to review the major issues entailed in planning defense strategy, forces, modernization programs, and other defense foundations. Numerous studies helped to formulate the key issues for decision-makers and provided the analytical underpinning for the review.