NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (House of Representatives - June 20, 1997)

[Page: H4104]

Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I have great respect for both proponents of this amendment, but I have to tell my colleagues that this amendment is not grounded in common sense, for a couple of reasons. There are a lot of things with respect to arms control that we disagree with, conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, arms control proponents, and people who are very skeptical of the arms control process.

But there are certain cornerstones of our deterrent force and our overall strategy of deterrents that we all agree on. When I say, `we all agree on,' I am speaking of not only of the majority in the Congress but also the President of the United States, whether he is a Democrat or Republican, and his respective military leaders in the Pentagon.

I have a lot of disagreements with President Clinton on security, but this is not one of them. The President, and I have several letters, one from his CNO and one from his director of the Commander in Chief, the U.S. Strategic Command, President Clinton does not want to see our strategic force, and the most important part of our triad, which is our submarine force, upon which we are going to rely for 50 percent of our deterrent counterstrike force under START II, he does not want to see that force reduced, and especially to reduce it unilaterally.

So let us review the bidding here. We have three legs of the triad. We have our missiles based on land. We have our bomber force. But the most survivable forces of our triad, our deterrent system that has worked for so many years, is undersea. It is difficult to target. It is difficult to preempt. And that deterrent force will become more and more important under START II if the Russians ever approve START II.

Now here is what my colleagues should reflect upon: START II has not yet been approved by the Russian Duma. Our friends who are offering this amendment are proposing to cut back on the number of ballistic missile submarines, in anticipation that at some point in the future there will be a START III and the Russians will give us reciprocity on this cut and will somehow come through with cuts of their own.

That is a very dangerous thing to do. Let us leave all the chips on the side of our negotiators so that, as we work down our strategic forces, they give a chip, we give a chip, they give a chip, we give a chip, and we still guard or act to detour not only the Russians but others who are now developing nuclear systems around the world.

And there are others developing those systems. The Chinese, for example, are not a part of the START II agreements. They are developing nuclear systems aimed at American cities. So it is a very dangerous thing to try to get a jump-start on arms negotiations and start unilaterally to pull down our strategic forces, especially the underwater part of our strategic forces.

All of our military experts, the White House leadership, the Pentagon, and the majority in Congress, agree the undersea part of our ballistic missile submarines are the most survivable part of our triad. And to do away with the large portion of those in anticipation of some future concession on the part of our negotiating partners makes no sense.