AGENDA OF THE 105TH CONGRESS (House of Representatives - March 17, 1997)
[Page: H1027]

Our 14th goal is to rebuild a strong national defense to remain the leader of the world. We want to reverse the neglect of defense modernization, of high tech research and development and of the quality of life of veterans, service personnel, and their families. The fact is that this administration is underfunding defense, it is not modernizing the weapon systems, and it has cut the amount of money that would be spent on military service personnel and apparently has outyear cuts on veterans that will be horrendous in terms of cutting the quality of their health care and their services.

We believe it is important that American men and women in uniform be the best trained, the best equipped, and the best prepared in the world. We are able to do what we do with very low casualties because our young men and women have the support of their country year in and year out in developing the best possible military. That requires investing in research and development and investing in defense modernization, and if we are going to keep a high quality force, they have to have a decent standard of living back home and a decent standard of living on their bases, and that requires the kind of modernization we need, for example, in terms of barracks and housing.

We also though think that you should not just salute waste because it is in uniform. We believe that it is possible to improve efficiency in defense spending and to reduce bureaucracy. We are committed, if I might say this symbolically, to reducing the Pentagon to a triangle in terms of the amount of mid-level management. We think you could have a 40-percent reduction in the mid-level managers in the Pentagon. We believe you could go to multiyear contracting and have a dramatic improvement in the ability to buy weapons, to buy fighter aircraft and ships and other things.

There is no reason to buy a complex big system 1 year at a time that makes them the most expensive possible way to do it, and so we hope we will see a major shift toward multiyear contracting so we can buy the most equipment at the lowest cost to give our men and women the best chance to survive on the battlefield of the future.

We also think it is important to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to ensure peace in Europe for future generations. We strongly support having Poland and Hungary and the Republic of Czech entered as soon as possible, hopefully by July of this year. We believe that Romania certainly deserves consideration, so does Slovakia. There are a number of places that we need to look at and realize that it is important for countries that want to be free, countries that are democracies, countries that seek only the right to associate themselves with a strong defense organization to protect their freedom collectively. We have every interest in being the allies of those kinds of countries.

Finally, on defense it is vital that we protect American territory from missiles from terrorist states or from dictatorships. We need to be honest about the threat to this country. There are missiles today that can reach America and eliminate our greatest cities literally in 30 minutes. Some of those missiles are held by states that may not be favorable to us. Within a decade other countries that we know are not favorable to us are going to have similar missiles. Whether the weapon of mass destruction is nuclear or chemical or biological, we are faced with a tremendous threat in the next 20 years. The time to begin to defend America from that threat is now. Just as Britain had to have the foresight to build radar in the 1930's to survive the Battle of Britain, the time to prepare to defend ourselves is not when the crisis occurs, not when we are blackmailed, but now. And every evidence, I think, of every independent observer is that the threat is real, it is already here and that we should be building today a national missile defense system capable of protecting the United States, capable of protecting Europe and Israel, and capable of protecting our allies in the Far East, if necessary, so that no one who has a missile can think that with impunity they can blackmail the free countries of the world.