U.S. Force Posture in Europe
- Rear Admiral (Ret.) Richard Jaskot, Senior Associate, Booze Allen Hamilton
- Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA)
- Ian Brzezinski, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, Atlantic Council SAG Member
- Frank Kramer, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Atlantic Council SAG Member
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Okay, this is our last panel for this morning on the future of U.S. force posture and we’re going to be – we’re going to benefit from the privilege of having a congressional perspective on this issue.
Rich Jaskot is a colleague of mine at Booz Allen. He’ll be introducing Congressman Marshall. Congressman Turner is right now detained by some business and we hope he’ll arrive but he has some pressing matters.
Rich Jaskot, as I mentioned, is a colleague of mine at Booz Allen. We work together in the combat and command market. I’ve known Richard since back in 2000-2001 when we first met over a force structure issue and that was U.S. planes, U.S. F-15s in Iceland.
He was at that time in EUCOM as a deputy J-5. He then went down from there to the war college where he served as a commandant – sir, I’ll get that – where he served for I think two or three years before he came to Booz Allen Hamilton.
REAR ADM. RICHARD JASKOT: Thank you, Ian. And I’d like to join the other moderators in thanking the Atlantic Council for bringing this group of distinguished panelists together as well as this audience for these important discussions about force posture, U.S. force posture in Europe.
The other thing that’s important here and I think the Atlantic Council was very smart to do is to engage Congress and get members of the congressional team here to talk about their views. Obviously they’re responsible for ensuring that the resourcing of these issues are taken care of and that they are in the best interest of the United States and the United States people.
But it was also a great choice to have Congressman Marshall here. Congressman Marshall represents Georgia’s 8th congressional district. He comes from a military family and grew up moving from base to base and also has an extensive military background of his own, serving as an Army Ranger in the Vietnam era.
I think that perspective and his time served allows him to bring both on-the-ground experience as well as a perspective to his congressional work on the House Armed Services Committee that is important to understanding what the force structure really means, what the employment of our military forces are globally and in this case with NATO.
Additionally, Congressman Marshall along with others were part of the committee that put forth legislation, House Resolution 2797, back in June of 2009 and most of you probably know that better by the NATO First legislation, which basically was to reassure our allies as the administration moved forward on its Russia Reset policy.
Obviously this legislation touches on today’s topic of force structure but it also touches on the upcoming issues of the nuclear posture review and missile defense and those implications for both resourcing as well as how our strategic policy is executed across Europe and globally and so without further ado I’d like to turn the floor over to Congressman Marshall and then after his remarks we’ll open the floor for some questions. Sir?
REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Thanks Rich. Can everybody hear me? Is the mike on?
Well, first, Mike Turner was the one who was supposed to deliver the speech. He’s the one that was the lead author of the NATO First bill. I was his co-author. It was drafted by Republican staff and so I figured Republican staff had put together his remarks. He could read the speech and then I’d just react to whatever he had to say and then try and respond to questions.
Things are pretty busy on the Hill right now. The pressing business that he has is pressing business that some would think I should have since it involves votes and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’re not actually going to have votes called while I’m gone. But I do know those votes are procedural. It’s just a rule, a previous question and a rule, and so I decided I was prepared to skip that.
When I say things are pretty busy on the Hill, gosh, I agreed to do this some time ago and then I guess we couldn’t do it because of scheduling.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: The snow.
REP. MARSHALL: Was it snow? Yeah, okay, it’s been so long. I totally forgot and then it was last night that all of a sudden I thought, aren’t I doing something tomorrow morning having to do with NATO and so it really has been quite a scramble to get here and be prepared to make remarks.
I’ll just make a few comments and then let’s just throw it open and I’ll try and respond to questions as candidly as possible and my comments are going to be from a 40,000 foot perspective and they may be off the mark somewhat. Just about everybody in this room has forgotten more about the details of this subject than I’m likely to ever know.
But that statement applies to just about all members of Congress. We’ve got so much on our plate that we’re just not going to be able to get down into the sort of nitty-gritty details. As you know, there was a recent change in course with regard to force structure in Europe. That change in course occurred with a new secretary.
The QDR reflects the change in course, no surprise. The new secretary and the new secretary’s team has quite an influence on whatever the QDR’s going to say about all kinds of different issues including this particular issue. I mention that because to me at least there’s no real certainty that we will wind up staying with either the QDR and its current posture or the force structure that we have in Europe right now.
There’s nobody out there with a crystal ball and a tremendous amount of wisdom that we can defer to, to try and figure out exactly how we should structure our forces.
Rumsfeld was known to say that there are things we know we don’t know and there are things we don’t know we don’t know and that’s the kind of statement that a traditionally conservative individual would make and a traditionally conservative individual would tend to approach questions like this one, the appropriate force structure, from the perspective of well, let’s just leave things as they are unless it’s quite apparent that they either need to be changed or they can be changed.
So two different things, they either need to be changed or they can be changed. I’m not sure that Rumsfeld really paid a whole lot of attention to his own wisdom.
I mean, he’d make those references regularly and then he’d go out and make these decisions and you’d wonder whether or not a conservative just made that decision, somebody who was listening to the same person who would say regularly there are things we don’t know and things we know we don’t know and things we don’t know we don’t know.
As you know, there are a fair number of parochial interests that are involved here and both sides of the Atlantic. There are members who are quite interested in seeing BCTs come back and be stationed in the United States because it’s going to benefit their particular communities, the communities that they represent.
There are those on the other side of the Atlantic that don’t want the BCTs to leave because there’s an economic interest that’s going to be affected as well. The arguments for the presence of the BCTs largely are strategic.
They’re long-term engagement between partners and allies, side-by-side training, building partner capacity, being prepared to – you know, expeditionary forces that are in Europe as opposed to in the United States could be prepared to address contingencies, certain contingencies a lot quicker and a lot more effectively than those stationed in the United States – and a number of other things.
I guess I’d say that at this point we are interested in seeing what happens as a result of NATO’s process for developing a strategic concept. The QDR specifically mentions that. Congress is specifically interested in that. I think a lot of the future decisions concerning what’s the appropriate force structure in Europe will depend upon what NATO is inclined to do.
It’s difficult for us to have force structure in Europe if that force structure is somehow going to be impeded in what it can do. If the platform in Europe, somewhere in Europe is going to be one that can’t be used for certain purposes or in certain ways, then it’s not going to be that attractive to us.
You can argue on both sides the question whether or not our presence helps with the building of NATO’s partner capacities to meet the kinds of challenges that we all see on the horizon that exist right now and that we think will exist for the foreseeable future, these simmering conflicts with low level, non-state actors.
When I say you could argue both sides of that, there are those who say that the presence of the United States in its current configuration does assist in building partner capacity. There are others who say, no, it doesn’t to the extent that Europe, NATO can continue to rely upon the United States to meet these challenges, then NATO, Europe are not going to build the capacity to meet the challenges themselves.
As far as the structure itself is concerned, when you sort of think about what’s involved in trying to help build partner capacity and ability to seamlessly conduct joint operations, those sorts of things, somebody like me would be skeptical that standard BCTs need to be there in order to do that, that we actually need all those sorts of boots on the ground in order to effectively do that.
Somebody like me would wonder whether or not we shouldn’t have – call it a BCT, I don’t know – but a smaller, better trained, better educated, force that maybe has language capabilities that the average soldier doesn’t have, et cetera, that does the integration, partner side by side training operations, et cetera, and that that bang for the buck would be a more effective use of the dollars than the current force structure.
I think an awful lot depends on what comes out this summer where the Strategic Concept is concerned.
If NATO’s Strategic Concept anticipates shared strategic interests and that the United States has made quite clear it’s interested in and then says, here’s how the United States fits into our vision of how we meet those strategic needs and specifically contemplates whatever it is, whatever the force structure is, and makes a good argument for why that force structure is important for NATO to achieve its strategic vision, then I think that goes a long way toward encouraging the United States to maintain or shift or adopt a particular force structure that NATO is interested in.
So I would say that leaves a fair amount on the NATO side of the table at the moment as far as the – it’s kind of like the ball is on your side of the court. Y’all toss it back to us with a concrete proposal that makes sense to us and that demonstrates to us that to the extent we have platforms there, those platforms are not going to be restricted to the extent that we’re partnering. The partnering is going to be legitimate, true total partnering.
That’s not to say that we haven’t had some great partners in Europe. We have but everybody in the room is familiar with some of the constraints that we’ve run into that’s made it more difficult for us to actually accomplish NATO’s mission in Afghanistan for example.
Just a final observation, to the extent that EUCOM forces are involved in either because they’re in EUCOM, in Europe, but involved in or actually detailed to Afghanistan or Iraq, when those conflicts end there’s certainly going to be an argument that those forces aren’t needed in Europe. Why wouldn’t there be?
If EUCOM is of the opinion that with the balance of the forces, those not detailed to those conflicts, it is meeting the need in Europe for building partner capacity, side-by-side training, deterrents, whatever it is, and if it’s currently meeting that need, despite the fact that an awful lot of that force is detailed to directly or indirectly the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq, you’ll have a fair number of voices that will say, gosh, once those things wind down, those forces need to come home.
Final thing, we’re extremely constrained financially at the moment. We’ve kind of done it to ourselves. Health care is largely the explanation for it. That’s probably 80 percent of the problem. I don’t think we’re going to – well it’s clear to me that we are not going to tackle with the real cost issues where health care is concerned.
So we are going to continue to be constrained financially in the future. It’s going to make it more difficult for us to do all the things that we would like to do. Defense will wind up being – well, defense can’t be totally exempt.
It’s unrealistic to think that that will happen. As we talk about trying to deal with the gap in the budget and the red ink that we’re running, this almost catastrophic addiction to debt, we will regularly say, okay, well we’re just going to freeze things or we’re going to cut things and it will be non-defense or non-security.
So we regularly say that. That’s an acknowledgement that cutting things that have to do with defense and security are a little bit more difficult to do politically. It’s also at least indirectly a confession that defense and security expenditures maybe are a little bit more mandatory than they’re described, if you get my reference between the difference between discretionary expenditures and mandatory expenditures in our budget setting.
But the reality is given our fiscal constraints and given what – and I could run this out as an economist might sort of predicting what would happen in the United States if we don’t get our act together – but given those fiscal constraints, we’re going to have a hard time being the best partner that we might, certainly the partner that we might be where Europe is concerned.
And with that I guess I’ll stop and why don’t we just have a conversation? I can speak for Turner if you want me to.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Thank you, Congressman. Before we open up the floor to the questions, I’ve got one I’ll throw in for you here and given the fact that the force posture discussions going on right now on the QDR and the rest, we’ve also got the nuclear posture review coming up and obviously the phased adaptive approach pieces of missile defense.
Those are all going to have resource implications and the rest. Can you expound a little bit on where you see especially the phased adaptive approach affecting the congressional view on force posture?
REP. MARSHALL: A couple things, my grandfather was the original Army – I’m named after my grandfather, James Creole (ph) Marshall, who was the original Army officer detailed to – well he organized and commanded the atomic bomb project for its first 14 months and it’s ironic but my father, Robert Creole Marshall, organized and commanded Safeguard, which was our first real effort at missile defense.
They’re both interred at West Point and I’ve just been elected chair of the board of visitors at West Point. At some point I intend to put a marker up where they are and I’m trying to think of some way that I could connote that the son was defending against the father’s weapon.
We did the NATO First legislation knowing it would never pass but hoping to give the president a little bit more ammunition where the START talks were concerned. So we actually filed that legislation before the president engaged, reengaged where START is concerned and what we wanted to do is have something that the president could point to as a demonstration of congressional intent that strategically we’re not backing down here.
We’re not interested in hearing somebody give away this, give away that. I co-chair the missile defense caucus and we were concerned as we sort of waited to see what the administration’s suggestion was going to be concerning missile defense and geez, I mean I was asked by the administration – actually the Czech Republic government to go to the Czech Republic a couple of years ago to argue the case for the radar site.
So I’ve been sort of actively involved in this and naturally concerned. You make all these representations concerning how important critical the Czech government among others taking these steps are and then all of a sudden we change our minds.
And so we were all sort of waiting with bated breath on the Hill to see what the phased adaptive approach would be and whether or not it made sense. We didn’t know it was going to be called that but now it’s been rolled out and it’s not implausible – I’m not sufficiently expert to actually make the judgment but it’s not implausible that this is a better way to go about meeting the threat and I think that’s been accepted on the Hill.
You don’t see a lot of outcry. So I also do think that we’re going to fund these things. we may not fund them to the level I would like to but we’ll get 90 percent there and I think that’s good and the thing that really quite concerns me, there’s language in last year’s defense authorization bill requiring that the department do a study of small nuclear power for all of the military installations in the United States using small nukes.
Why’d I put it in there? Well, it’s this whole clean renewable independence stuff but more importantly there’s a strategic reason why we would want to have small nuclear hardened against EMP weapons power sources scattered around the country. It’s the EMP weapon.
So and pretty much everybody here knows an effective EMP attack would be just such a disaster for the United States as we’re currently postured. So missile defense I think everybody can see is pretty important and it’s not just missile defense against some strategic threat. It winds up being missile defense against rogue threats because the rogue threat can really be so significant now.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Okay, can we get the microphone over to Ian? Ian Brzezinski and I’ve got Harlan.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you. To follow on your points about missile defense, how important is it in the halls of Congress how Europeans contribute to the missile defense structure that the administration has rolled out in the phased adaptive approach because we’re talking about actually what could be very significant financial investments in stand up sites in Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and maybe elsewhere.
How important does Congress regard a European contribution to this transatlantic system?
REP. MARSHALL: Well, I’m probably not – I haven’t polled this. I haven’t been wandering the halls of Congress, buttoning hole and hey, are you concerned about what Europeans would like to or their involvement. So I can’t speak for others.
I can say there hasn’t been any discussion that I’m aware of that I’ve been involved in any way or that I’m aware of on that particular issue and as I said, I’m one of the co-chairs of the missile defense caucus.
I’m somebody that’s constantly pushing for and I’m constantly – there are a number – obviously there are a number of briefings that we’ve been at, closed formal and informal briefings, and I don’t recall anybody having raised the question, having said, oh, by the way General, what sort of consultation are you engaging in with our European allies to figure out how to actually structure this and what the involvement of Europe would be, et cetera, et cetera.
It’s more the impression I’m having is that it’s entirely driven by the United States sort of a feeling like this is our thing, this is what we know about, it’s what we do. If we need help we’ll let you know where we need help.
But it’s not a can you tell us what we ought to be doing and how we ought to be doing it kind of inquiry. That’s my impression. But I sure haven’t taken a poll.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Harlan?
Q (Harlan Ullman): Rep. Marshall, first thanks for your rather elegant dissection of these major issues. I have two questions.
First, outside your committee, how many of your colleagues in the House have an interest in and are knowledgeable about NATO and secondly, more important, a question I posed to Madeline Albright several times and a group of experts, is NATO relevant or is it a relic and if it’s relevant, how would you make that case?
REP. MARSHALL: Just as members probably aren’t wandering around wondering whether or not NATO needs to be more actively involved in designing our missile defense sites, members probably aren’t wandering around wondering about NATO generally and NATO’s role in the world and the relationship between the United States and people are generally aware of NATO’s origins.
Its current relevance to the United States is Afghanistan and there would be a mixture of opinions. Everybody’s grateful that NATO is involved. Most probably wish NATO were more involved. It’s pretty frustrating that our NATO allies aren’t more involved. So that’s my impression. It really is just sort of a general impression. Again, it’s not something I’ve polled.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: General? Right here.
Q: Congressman, first of all I would like to thank you. I’m Gen. Naumann, retired chairman of the Military Committee of NATO back in those happier days when we fought the Kosovo air campaign.
Ian Brzezinski just raised the issue of missile defense and I would like to address this and to widen it perhaps a little bit since I believe that some common programs and projects could serve as an important clue to keep the transatlantic alliance together and we are suffering at this point in time of some common projects.
On missile defense, my advice would be not to confront the Europeans with a huge sophisticated multilayered program which produces a multibillion bill since they are suffering from the very same constraints you are suffering from.
You have the health-care thing. We have health care plus retirement funds and Social Security and what have you. It’s all in the same game.
So I could imagine that a reasonable way to forge as much transatlantic cohesion and consensus as possible is to approach the issue first by arguing in favor of a commonly procured and commonly based on American designs since the Europeans have nothing to offer in this respect, commonly designed and procured battle management system for the missile defense, which would allow to plug in European factors.
It’s not a perfect solution but it at least is a solution which makes sure that we have a common architecture spanning the entire American continent plus the NATO treaty area in Europe and something like this would be I think better suited to win approval by your European allies than the often mentioned highly sophisticated perfectly shaped concept which would produce billions of cost.
If we did something like this you will get the argument of the Europeans we have to bring in European products and the result of something like this, you see if you look at the treaty, which I call the ACCS system, it is an air control system. We could have had the solution since 20 years but since we insisted on European contributions and on American modifications we have nothing, or a little bit, not much.
The only ones who are smiling are some industrialists but no one else. The second point I wanted to make is I think we should think through as soon as this Strategic Concept is published whether we cannot identify something which is simple, badly needed, and not too expensive as a common program.
What I am thinking of is to make this case quite simple and as straightforward as I can, we all lack, I should say, a protective suit which protects our armed forces against chemicals, biologicals, and nuclear weapons which at the same time is a combat uniform. You have something like this in the American armed forces called Saratoga.
But the Europeans don’t have it but you need replacements. You need something more modern and we need it as well. We still have to – as soon as a chemical attack occurs we have to rush and to don an over garment whereas modern chemicals, that is a recipe to be killed.
But something like this that we could come together to agree on such a program and then to do it together using European and American capabilities, I think we would have something which I would see as a glue to bring our nations together. That I wanted to offer as the advice of an old NATO war horse who is no longer in a job.
REP. MARSHALL: That prompts a number of thoughts. Yes, to the extent that we’re going to try to integrate better than we do, taking baby steps, that would be one. There’s probably a way to get to the larger steps.
I’m reminded of visiting the – you get elected to Congress, I got elected in 2002, you’re invited to go to these seminars that will help new members understand what they’re getting into and so I decided that I would go to a Heritage Foundation seminar in part because all the Democrats said you shouldn’t do that.
So I did and I think I might have been the only Democrat at this new member training and I didn’t really have much to say. I was just listening until the subject of Iraq came up. We hadn’t gone into Iraq and there was this colonel, ex-colonel there who was the Heritage Foundation’s expert. I don’t know his name. He may still be there.
And he was arguing that we ought to – yes, we do want to have our allies with us but they’re just going to be in our way in the conventional part of this. They’re not going to really help us out and what we’re really going to have to do is worry about whether we’re going to kill some of them in the course of doing this.
So we ought not to be too anxious to have our allies actively involved and I couldn’t stand it and I said, well, I think you’re probably right about the conventional part of this. But that’s going to be over within a few weeks and after that their guys can get shot on street corners just as well as our guys can get shot on street corners.
I gave a talk to some European Union assembly members, and this is a few years ago. This is another thought in response to your observation which I think are well-taken points, just it’s a policy decision which way we head in.
In that talk I suggested that perhaps a better direction for us to consider heading in as far as an effective partnership is concerned is for the United States to provide certain power. We’ve got conventional military power in spades and maybe say to our partners, don’t bother building up conventional military power. We’ll provide that. We’ve got it. We’re going to maintain it.
So we’ll just make it available to meet NATO needs, the needs of the coalition. What we don’t have and we’re not very good at and because in part it’s a political problem for us, we can’t maintain the funding, is building partner capacity.
It’s building the kind of relationships that you need to have so that you actually have human intelligence. It’s doing the post-conflict nation building. It’s those sorts of things that we’re just not very good at. We never have been.
In the 20th century I think we had 17 attempts at nation building in the United States. You could argue that only three were successes. Two of them were going to be successes anyway and that was Japan and Germany. That was going to be a success and so we’re not very good at it and we can’t fund it because we can’t fund the State Department.
At times we get all fired up about okay, State’s important to us, it’s an important part of the national defense posture and we’ve got to have better relationships. We’ve got to be spending money on building up goodwill, that sort of thing, because it really helps us out when we’re in a crunch.
And then politicians step up and they tackle that. A dollar spent over there, we need roads here, we need health care here, we need – so we just politically have not been able to maintain any significant level of foreign assistance funding in the United States.
The only problem I see with structuring, organizing ourselves that way which would eliminate the necessity to really struggle to get ourselves integrated, we spent all this money to have a command and control system that enables us to do x and it’s way above what anybody else can do.
Do we retrogress or do we ask our allies to spend all this money to get to the point where you’re with us while meanwhile we’re spending more money to get farther ahead because we never want to get behind where technology is concerned. I mean, integrating that is a tough thing to do. You’ve bumped into it and you were just describing that.
Another way to do this would maybe organize ourselves differently where some part of the force is provided by one of us and other aspects of the needed force is provided by others.
Q: Allow me to say one sentence. Based on the experience to keep 90 nations together in war because Nabowich (ph) was not fully accepted by all of them, I would advise never to go for a solution in which the ultimate end of risk, that means loss of life, is left exclusively to the United States and the post-conflict thing is done by the allies. Nothing is as important, Congressman, as the preparedness to shed blood together.
REP. MARSHALL: Well, I accept that and another problem with what I’ve suggested because politically it may not be tenable. There may be things that need to be done from Europe’s perspective that the United States is simply not willing to do because it’s not going to shed blood over there.
The other part of it is that the United States would constantly be the bad guy and Europe would be the good guys and then to be crass, the economic opportunities that arise as a result of nation building would all go to Europe, not to the United States.
So for a number of different reasons what I described could be a pipe dream but at least it’s a contrast to what you were suggesting and there really are two alternative ways of looking at this and one is do our damndest to integrate and partner side by side and another is to allocate specialties.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Minister?
Q: Thank you. Congressman, thank you. My name is Boyko Noev. I’m former defense minister of Bulgaria. At the beginning of your expose you mentioned – you linked the future decisions on the force posture with the NATO Strategic Concept. But as we know, there is a very high possibility that the common denominator of the Strategic Concept will be pretty low and
REP. MARSHALL: Pardon me?
Q: The common denominator of the political will for the Strategic Concept may be very low or reasonably low, unreasonably low.
At the same time there are allies and especially those in Central and Eastern Europe but not only there of course who on the one hand need reassurance and on the other hand are more willing to engage with United States in all activities including joint training, operations, expeditionary, et cetera, et cetera
Don’t you think that it’s worth asking the Pentagon and the European command to go around and talk with allies and consult bilaterally and multilaterally so as to check what is the feeling and who of the allies is prepared to go deeper with the United States, also in terms of basing?
And then probably when they come to you with the price check, then you will be able to – you will have a clearer picture as to what the force structure could be.
REP. MARSHALL: It’s my belief that at least in the near term in order for the Western world to effectively address the kinds of challenges – and they go beyond military – pandemics, there are many, many challenges that face the globe and in order to effectively address those challenges we’re pretty much going to have to have partnerships of partnerships. There can’t be one grand partnership that’s going to do this.
There’s not going to be one grand world government that’s going to do it. So forget that. That’s not going to happen at least in the near term. So what we should be shooting for is partnerships of partnerships right now and those within the partnerships, our partners have to have strategic reason to participate.
I think we do, do what you were suggesting we do already. Yes, we work with NATO and we want to have this strong partnership with NATO, this partnership of equal partners.
But at the same time we’re going around and we are talking to individual NATO countries and those countries that are not members of NATO but have a strategic interest in associating themselves somehow with the United States and then we find because they have a strategic interest that we can advance some of our strategic interests by associating ourselves with them.
But I am absolutely convinced that we are not going to be able to convince an awful lot of the challenges that the globe faces that are going to unfold in the next few decades, disruptions associated with climate change, if in fact the scientists are correct and we don’t address this global warming issue, then you can see huge migrations of population.
We’re losing more and more arid land. We have more and more arid land. I can see food challenges in the future and so partnerships of partnership to address these kinds of things I think we’ve got to have and so we work on NATO but we recognize that if NATO doesn’t –
If it just doesn’t work out, we don’t have a strong enough partnership, the interests are not sufficiently aligned, some are anxious to do x but others are not that particularly interested in doing x, the bar is set too low in the Strategic Concept, then we’ve got to proceed to develop more partnerships because it’s foolish for us to think that one country or a few countries are going to be able to handle the global issues that are going to be facing all of us. It’s not going to happen.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Damon?
Q (Damon Wilson): Thank you, Congressman Marshall, for your remarks. I really appreciate hearing your perspective.
This morning we had a lively debate on the specifics of force posture in Europe and one of our panelists sort of laid out a number of variables that need to be considered when thinking about those from the finances, access, usability as you referred to, security for the bases, the families, the opt-in of our forces, training, speed of war planning, protection reassurance, geography, and a lot of these factors out in various ways.
But if you’re looking at it from a Hill perspective and particularly if someone on the Hill is skeptical of this, there are MILCOM issues at stake, it’s returning forces to potential districts, potentially their district.
Do the arguments that the Administration’s put forward in the QDR that you can’t surge trust, you can’t surge relationships, that you’ve got to have some presence to really build these relationships, it’s all part of helping to build proper partnership capacity and proper relationships with these allies. Is there a way for these strategic arguments to resonate or does that fall on deaf ears?
REP. MARSHALL: That brings me back to my comment about State and that frankly is Secretary Gates. You remember the Kansas City address. I mean, Secretary Gates gets it. He understands that for us to be effective in the kinds of conflicts, the post-Industrial Age conflicts, asymmetric conflicts that we appear to be facing in the next few decades, if not indefinitely, we’ve got to have relationships.
We don’t have relationships and you don’t build a relationship. You don’t build that trust just by doing that. So that is absolutely true, hence partnerships of partnerships, hence we ought to be doing more with countries around the globe to build relationships, to build partner capacity, to build trust.
The question is whether or not, to get specifically back to Europe and our presence, force structure presence in Europe, whether or not we should be structured this way in order to accomplish that objective or perhaps we should b structured different way, save some money, hopefully capture that money.
You put it in State. It’s not going to stay there very long. You won’t see funding year after year after year to build trust. Congress will not do that. It’s too vague. It’s too abstract. There’s not immediacy.
So I guess the direct answer to your question is it’s going to be really hard to argue on the face of it it’s you can’t argue against it. Of course everybody would accept that.
The question is whether or not having accepted that trust is an important thing to establish and it can’t be built over night, you’re actually willing to fund what’s needed to be funded in order to build it and maintain it and we have not done that in the past.
I don’t know why we would think that Congress or the United States or the United States people, we would largely reflect the United States people, why we would think that the United States people are going to be willing to fund that in the future.
You can do it if you put it in Defense. But that doesn’t necessarily argue for a particular force posture. I mean, geez, I mean we can park people all over the world and spend billions and billions, tens and tens of billions of dollars and when time comes to put the budget together and spend it again next year, what, how long does it take to pass military approps budget?
Jack Murtha, god bless him, he was famous for opening it up and closing it within about 30 seconds. He’d go for a record every single year and this is the most money we spent and we’re not even going to talk about it. We’re going to spend it. Nobody’s going to question it.
So I’ve argued repeatedly for trying to park the trust building type money in Defense so we can actually protect it and do it over a long period of time.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Congressman, we have time for one more question and I’m going to use my position here to ask it of you.
REP. MARSHALL: Uh-oh.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: To build a little bit more on Damon’s question and your comments there, in Adm. Stavridis’ recent testimony to you all he talked about the fact that in order for him to do what he has to do in security cooperation and building partner capacity, it’s beyond just what the military can do.
It’s got to be whole government or bigger than just the military and Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates both expound on a lot of their speeches smart power.
Do you see the argument of the way we address force posture getting to the point where we can address it as whole of government and bigger than Defense?
REP. MARSHALL: Everybody right now – that’s sort of the mantra and everybody’s talking about it right now. The hurdle – there are two major hurdles. One’s called the laws of the United States and how the government is organized and who actually has the money and the power to spend the money.
So you’ve got State, you’ve got Defense. If you don’t fall on one side or the other, State’s going to spend the money the way it wants to spend the money and Defense is going to spend the money the way it wants to spend the money.
For Defense to persuade State or State to persuade Defense takes the president being involved or the president having picked the right people and then you’ve got to get through Congress. That’s the second problem, congressional jurisdiction. Armed Services has Defense. Somebody else has State and somebody else appropriates and it’s true in the Senate and it’s true in the House.
And all of these institutions are very hide bound. The Pentagon is beyond human scale and so it just sort of has – it’s a living being that’s beyond human scale, has a life of its own. It just sort of moves along, takes an extremely strong team led by a secretary to change the Pentagon.
It’s peopled by sincere individuals who are very competent who typically don’t move up in rank. They’ve got to be sincere and they pretty much have to buy the party line. So by the time you get to 45, 50, 60 years old, what’s the likelihood that you’re going to think out of the box about the structure of the Pentagon or the way we do things?
God bless the military. I grew up in it. I was in it. I love it. But we’re a can-do organization and when we’re screwing up we can still do it. The idea is just do more of whatever we’re doing.
By god we’ll get through this and so it just takes a long time for us to be flexible at all. Even in the face of Iraq, I figured eventually we’d get it right. We figure out that the Iraqis are the ones that had to do this. We weren’t going to do it. We could support them. That’s about it.
A lot of our conventional stuff was counterproductive. But it would just take a long time to get to that point. So take that and apply it to Congress and apply it to the structure of the federal government. Good luck and then you’ve got all of Washington structured, the inside the Beltway crowd, the lobbyists, et cetera, organized. This is what we know. This is how we do it.
So in principle it’s great but actually without a crisis or without a president that’s very savvy, it’s a combination thing, very savvy and very committed to the concept, because it could take a lot of political will and a lot of political chips to get it done, I just don’t think it’s realistic to think that we’re going to be very effective at doing that.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Thanks, sir. Did you have any closing comments you’d like to make here?
REP. MARSHALL: Well, I’m sorry Mr. Turner wasn’t here with his speech. He’s a great guy, great member of Congress. On the Armed Services Committee we do work pretty well together, cross party lines to get things done. There are a few issues that wind up being contentious but for the most part we’re in agreement and Mike’s been a great partner of mine on lots of different issues and so I’m sorry he didn’t make it.
Other than that, I appreciate what you all do. I wish I could have been more informative.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you for being here and being candid with us. Congressman Marshall, we’re just going to make a few closing remarks and if we don’t feel you have to be here, if you want to enjoy our remarks, that would be great.
REP. MARSHALL: I probably should leave just because I don’t know when the votes are going to – I’ve got tons of other things to do. But thank you all.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much.
REAR ADM. JASKOT: Thank you, sir.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Frank? I can go first. One, first I want to kick off and say thank you to the Atlantic Council for putting this together and particularly to Damon who really was kind of the major force making this happen and to Allen and to Paul and to Magnus who basically went through this twice, which when you’re bringing in a hundred people and organizing speakers of this caliber, it’s quite an accomplishment. So let me first off say thank you to you all.
If I had a couple concluding remarks, one I would know following a statement like that, you want to be real brief. First I would say I have about kind of conclusions.
One was a comment that Gen. Naumann made and he said U.S. forces and U.S. citizens are welcome in Europe, they’re welcome in Germany where we have our largest presence and that struck me as an important factor because as Janine mentioned, we want to be where we’re welcome and clearly from the panelists that we’ve had and discussion we’ve had, U.S. forces are welcome in Europe.
I guess I have to put one note of caution though. I think in part we’re welcome there not just because of broad policy commitments made but also because our forces there, they’re our best ambassadors.
They’ve proven to be our best ambassadors. They have generated great goodwill and I remember the yellow flags going up in Bavaria when our troops went off to Iraq.
No one supported it in Germany but they supported our troops. You can’t take that for granted. There’s a tendency in the United States to take that kind of political will for granted and assume it will always be there. Force structure is one of those key tools to keep that goodwill going. So that’s point number one that struck me.
Point number two, I was struck by the discussion we had on nuclear weapons. I’m with unanimity that these tactical nuclear weapons that are there, which I actually don’t think are operational and useful but they clearly, clearly have an important geopolitical role and so we want to tread on that very lightly as we move forward on things or very carefully as we move forward on things like Nuclear Posture Review.
A third point that came from dinner last night was made by Jennifer and what was heartening today to hear I think it was fairly universal, particularly from our European panelists that they like American forces. They would like American forces to stay there. We got a little bit of a taste of this from the congressman from our previous lunch that we had on this issue.
If Europeans want Americans to stay, they’re going to have to demonstrate more clearly that they’re willing to invest in the defenses and defense structures necessary for Americans and for Congress to feel that that infrastructure is yielding a return. That’s not happened. The farmers, or the lobstermen from Maine and the farmers from Maine are going to lose their ardor for the infrastructure investments that go into U.S. force structure in Europe.
And finally, a point that’s been egging me or nagging me in the back of my mind and I failed to raise it with our panelists from the U.S. Government was the process by which this is happening, these decisions are being made. It’s easy to pitch and critique from the outside but when you think about U.S. force posture decisions we’ve had a major roll out of a missile defense vision in advance of the QDR and in advance of a posture review that’s being done by the European command.
I also keep on hearing phrases along the lines we don’t want to drive this too hard, we don’t want to drive this too fast. I think there’s actually some urgency in U.S. force posture decisions because I think Europeans are looking at U.S. force posture decisions as a profound indicator of U.S. commitment to Europe and Boyko and others made the point no U.S. force posture in Europe, no NATO.
Andre made the same point that there are some who are increasingly concerned about American commitment to Europe. Force posture decisions are long-term decisions. They take a long term to execute.
But they can’t be indefinitely postponed and even tactically from an administration point of view, I don’t think these are issues that should be held back until the third or fourth year of a term because in those times a lot of political dynamics come into play that make it even more difficult to make the hard decisions.
So there’s an urgency I see and if I had something to say to our colleagues from government who came down and spent their time with us, it would be to say don’t delay on this. Actually accelerate the process and accelerate in a way that’s in a well-considered fashion.
FRANK KRAMER: I’ll make a couple of points. The first point, I’ve got five points out of this. The first was I think we all agree that force posture and those kinds of issues and as Janine pointed out it’s not just physical posture but what you do with the forces and the like, needs to be made in a geopolitical context and within a geopolitical strategy.
But as I listened to the U.S. presentations and the European presentations, you get a sense that there were rather different strategies yet and the U.S. is sort of a multi-factored analysis and you talk about – we talk about military issues, training issues, reassurance, resources, new conflicts, trust, innovation, all good things.
There’s overlap with the European approach but the European approach tends to be more internal, heavy emphasis on the U.S.’s, I call it the glue, and then a heavy emphasis on Russia and how do we do things.
I must say I thought the congressman was terrific and one of the points he made in addition to the point about the strong pressure that will come out of the Congress for understandable reasons is the point about what’s Europe going to do with the U.S. and how we’re really going to work together and that brings me to the question of the so-called Strategic Concept which is just a piece of paper but the reality is what’s the strategy.
Do we have a common strategy or at least an overlapping enough strategy so that we really are working together or is it a historical vestige and if it’s not broke don’t change it, which is not a bad principle in general.
But going forward I think we really need to think about how do we make ourselves effective, what are we trying to do. That raises the issue which a number of people have raised, what really is the best force posture, one question, and what’s realistically doable, and again the congressman has said that.
How does any force posture actually get resourced and how will that force posture relate to the Strategic Concept and if the concept really gets some leverage and we can relate the force posture to it and it makes sense, then I think we’re going to have a much stronger support on the American side and presumably on the European side to actually use it in a productive way.
Again, that raises the issue to me of does it stay the same, what’s the default position or keep the BCTs in place, et cetera. That’s a resource-driven conclusion or do you want to innovate, go to a brain driven strategy and make some changes and I don’t see too much specific analysis of how we may change things in a positive direction.
In the paper that was given out at the end there are about 10 or 11 questions which were rather well-done and those raise some of those questions. What would be the innovation?
And lastly, we have Adm. Stavridis’ testimony, which is really extraordinary testimony, on the whole government approach and then we have a very practical conclusion from the congressman who said, and I’m now paraphrasing, I believe what he said was, forget it. That may be too strong. But it gave me a strong reason to think that if you’re going to get it, you have to be very, very innovative.
So I think we’ve done a lot in this conference to expose the issues. What I think we need to start to think about now is how to affect decisions and everyone here has some ability to effect decisions and I think that’s the focus of this conference.
The last thing I would say is a lot of people came a long way, friends from Europe, great to see you and thank you very, very much all of you for coming; couldn’t do a conference like this – well you could do a conference like this just Americans, that would be a typical approach.
But it’s better to have hands across the sea and I think we ought to think about some way or another bringing this conversation over to the other side of the pond and engaging them in a broader way with the Europeans.
And lastly, the staff who put this all together, fabulous job, and as was already said, did it twice, practice probably makes perfect. We could do it a third time but really great, great job. So thank you very much. I thank all of you and appreciate your coming.