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I have one other question. If we are in a position to get out-I have talked with top military people about this, and I hope and pray you are right, once the top military men decide to get out, the doing of it is much harder than the decision. While World War II was going on I was in Paris, where a taxi driver was asked what the folks in Paris had done when the Germans came in. He said they met them at the gate and said, "We were for you all the time." When we reach the point where we might pull out, is there a chance that the South Vietnamese may join the other side and we may have to fight our way out of there? What are the problems in that event in the view of the military? What do they consider to be our problems when we reach the place where we try to get out?
Secretary LAIRD. General Wheeler can comment on the military view on that. I want you to understand that, as long as I am Secretary of Defense, the safety and security of the American forces in Vietnam will always be my first and primary consideration in any program to Vietnamize the war. In Phase 1 of the Vietnamization program, we turn over combat responsibility in-country to the forces of South Vietnam. As we move through the Phase 2 portion of the program, we will have support and logistics forces within Vietnam, but, I think this committee should understand that the forces which provide the logistical fire and air support, will be amply protected by U.S. combat forces. The primary role of these combat forces at all times will be the security of the American forces, because it is essential that we protect the safety of our forces. That is a part of the planning that has gone into this program.
As we draw back into a few logistic, fire support and air support bases, we will still have combat forces there but they will also be proportionately reduced during the transition between Phase 2 and Phase 3. Their role will not be to undertake combat responsibility throughout the country; it will be to continue to provide security for those support forces.
I want this committee to understand clearly that this is part of the overall Vietnamization program.
Mr. FLOOD. It will be a little bit more than a mere enclave concept. Secretary LAIRD. Right. Some people will compare it with that. I don't want to get this confused with the old enclave theory because that theory was to have been applied at a time when the South Vietnamese were not ready to take over combat responsibilities. This particular program will go forward when they are ready to take over those responsibilities.
Since the gentleman from Mississippi directed himself to the military aspects, I think General Wheeler should comment on this. Mr. WHITTEN. I realize it is a problem, and I wanted to know what is involved.
At the conclusion of General Wheeler's answer I will have finished, Mr. Chairman.
General WHEELER. I have only one thing to add to what the Secretary has said. We have to make these reductions in force in such a way that we are always able to defend ourselves and to defend our logistic installations, our air fields, and so on.
Mr. WHITTEN. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
General WHEELER. I understand that. In the first place. I have no particular apprehension, when we reach the point that the Secretary has described of the South Vietnamese being able to take care of the main force VC and the North Vietnamese Army units. that we will not be able to withdraw safely. I have no particular fear that we will have a sudden turnabout in the country, barring one thing, and that would be the disintegration of the South Vietnamese Government. If that happened, there is no telling what chaotic condition might exist.
Mr. FLOOD. I don't agree with my friend Whitten about that, either. Mr. WHITTEN. Thank you, Mr. Secretary and General.
Mr. RHODES. I have one question I want to put to the Secretary and/or the General. I have been worried about the converse of the problem that Mr. Whitten has presented, and that is the possibility that as our forces become weaker in Vietnam we won't be able to hold the South Vietnamese back from flexing their muscles and perhaps even invading the North. We have had conjectures by leaders of South Vietnam before as to the possibility that they might have the force to do this. Whether they have or not, if they think they have, they can possibly get us involved in another situation that we would not want to be in. Would you like to address yourself to this possibility?
General WHEELER. Yes, Mr. Rhodes.
President Thieu, who, whatever you may think of him, is a very prudent, very careful man who is not inclined toward wild adventures. I believe his efforts would be directed toward rebuilding his country rather than undertaking some adventure against the North. I have heard him talk along this line.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. MAHON. Mr. Sikes has some questions.
USE OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS
Mr. SIKES. Mr. Secretary, I think by your responses to the questions that you have made earlier today you have shown a considerable concern about the level of expenditures that is proposed in the budget now before us and you have urged that there be no further reductions. Is that correct?
Secretary LAIRD. That is correct.
Mr. SIKES. There have been times in this committee's history when the committee felt that there were areas where additional appropriations were justified and where we took the initiative and provided additional appropriations in certain important areas. As I recall, you quite frequently were a party to actions. What would be the response of the Department of Defense if this committee should find certain areas which it feels were cut too severely and where additional funds are needed to exedite the availability of weapons systems? If we should provide additional money, what would be the attitude of the Department of Defense?
Secretary LAIRD. I believe the Congress is a coequal branch of this Government. If you make such a decision for fiscal year 1971, I will do what I can as Secretary of Defense to see that the money is spent.
EFFECTS OF REDUCTIONS IN DEFENSE SPENDING
Mr. SIKES. Mr. Secretary, I am seriously disturbed about the level of defense spending, particularly its effect on modernization. I feel also that by yielding to the clamor for cuts in defense, we may be contributing not only to a substandard or inadequate modernization but we may be contributing to recession itself.
I read that 550,000 defense workers are scheduled to laid off between the end of fiscal year 1969 and the end of fiscal 1971, more than 400,000 servicemen will be leaving the Armed Forces, and there will be reductions in civilian personnel within the Department of Defense. All told, this will create a severe impact on unemployment rolls. I can anticipate, if the economy is shaky or uneasy or uncertain at the time this very substantially larger number of people go on the streets looking for jobs, we could spark the recession or depression we are trying to avoid. Then I can see, as inevitably we do in this country, we would have pump-priming projects and we would spend money in an effort to get the economy moving again, and in the final analysis we would have spent more on make-work projects than it would have cost us to keep a larger number of people in uniform and to provide more hardware which we certainly shall need, we and our allies together.
I wonder if you have any concern over this possibility or do you think I am being unduly pessimistic?
Secretary LAIRD. I share your concern. I have gone into this matter very thoroughly. The figures that you use are generally correct. In the period from the end of fiscal year 1969 through the end of fiscal year 1971, we will be reducing the size of the Armed Forces by 551,000 personnel; we will be reducing civilian employees by 130,000; and the actions we have taken will affect about 600,000 prime contractor employees. These are hard, tough decisions to make. We are going to have our announcement of base closures and realinements. In order to make the savings reflected in this budget, that announcement will have to be made no later than the 15th or 20th of March. We will have to do this for many areas, in order to get a full year's savings for the fiscal year starting on July 1.
I don't believe the Department of Defense should be used as a means to make work or employment for people, but if we have to make these kinds of reductions, then it is necessary that we face up to these hard realities.
The reduction of more than 1,281,000 jobs in miltary, civilian, and contractor personnel amounts to about 40 percent of the current unemployment figure. I don't mean to imply that this number of people, representing 40 percent of the current unemployment figures will all show up on the unemployment rolls, because that would not be correct. I don't want people to believe that that will be the effect of our reductions.
Many of the men in the services are being encouraged to take advantage of the GI bill and continue their education. There are many skilled people leaving civilian or military service, or employment with a contractor, who will find job vacancies in our society today and will have jobs available to them."
The people who will be hurt the most are those who are not trained and who do not have a special skill that is needed in our economy today. We are making an all-out effort, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, to increase training programs and find opportunities for them as best we can.
Congressman Sikes, I am disturbed about this. I want you to know that we are trying to consider the economic impact. But if the Congress goes still further in cutting this budget-I don't want this to be interpreted as a threat or anything else but if that happens we will have to close more bases and lay off more people. Not only would this be bad for our economy, but I think we are preciously close to the point where we would endanger the security of this country by any further reductions.
Mr. SIKES. I feel, Mr. Secretary, we have already reached the stage in public uneasiness that the base closure announcement will provide much more of a hurdle for the economy to overcome than I am sure you had anticipated. I hear it already because of the general uncertainty about the future of the Defense Establishment. I think people at every base in the country are scared by the announcement that there will be more base closures. Businessmen, at least at my bases, report to me that already there has been a drop in purchasing. People are tightening their belts. They don't know what is to happen and they want to wait and see.
Secretary LAIRD. We are being urged now to step up the date on these announcements. I would like to say that we could make them by the end of this month, because I understand that since this budget was announced there has been some uncertainty around the country, particularly in areas with military installations and Government contracts. Mr. Šikes, it will not be easy for us to get this announcement out before the 15th of March, much as we would like to. We have to survey the economic situation. We have to look at the recommendations of the service Secretaries. We don't want any one area to face the impact of reductions by all three services. I would like to say we can get the announcement out before the 15th of March, but I just am not sure we are going to be able to.
What bothers me the most, though, is reading the statement of the majority leader of the U.S. Senate that there is going to be another $5 billion cut in our budget this year. I would like to state that further cuts of any magnitude would have to have some effect on personnel, because at least half of this budget involves people. We have reduced procurement by 28 percent since early 1969. If we make any further cuts we will simply be cutting out even more jobs. It would have a tre
We are seeking the assistance of all other departments and agencies of Government in trying to utilize the people who are being affected by these reductions. It is not a pleasant thing to go through. I happen to be serving as Secretary of Defense at a time when the defense effort is being cut back. My last two predecessors were in office at times when defense activity was usually increasing. I am aware of the problem, but I hope, Mr. Sikes, you realize why we could not get this announcement out any earlier.
Mr. FLOOD. Wasn't it within the last month that Mr. McNamara and Mr. Clifford said that this budget could be cut $10 billion? Did you hear that?
Secretary LAIRD. It is easier for people when they are not
Mr. FLOOD. That was my answer when they asked me if I had heard about it. I didn't hear about it. Did you hear it?
Secretary LAIRD. I read that story. I really don't know just how they derived those figures. I do meet with Secretary McNamara and Secretary Clifford on a regular basis and try to get their advice and counsel, but I haven't gotten that kind of a recommendation from them at any time. I did read the story.
Mr. RHODES. The junior Senator from Massachusetts said the way you could cut the budget would be to bring troops home from Europe. Wasn't that the way he would save the money?
Secretary LAIRD. You understand, Mr. Sikes, that the reductions I am talking about would be from this budget. Any further reductions would have to be in addition to those already reflected in our budget request.
Mr. SIKES. Mr. Secretary, with this cut in force levels and in procurement, which I think are massive reductions, are we shifting back to the massive deterrent concept?
Secretary LAIRD. No; we are not doing that in this budget. We have not made reductions on that basis. The major reductions being made in our force structure are based upon progress in Vietnamization of the war. In the future we may be able to reexamine the situation as far as Europe is concerned, as well as Korea and some other places in the world, but the force reductions reflected in this budget are based mainly upon the progress made in Vietnamization of the war. We have had some reductions worldwide, as you know. We are cutting back some in the support elements of NATO forces, but not in the combat force structure. We have reduced forces in Thailand, and we have also made some other reductions around the world, but they are not substantial ones. Wouldn't you agree?
General WHEELER. Yes.
Secretary LAIRD. Perhaps General Wheeler could comment further on this.
General WHEELER. As the Secretary has said, the reductions reflected in this budget are primarily related to reductions in Vietnam. There are, in addition, some small reductions in our forces in Thailand and some relatively minor adjustments in the European theater
Mr. FLOOD. Outside of Vietnam, South Korea, and Europe, we have no place where there are any large groups, anyhow.
Secretary LAIRD. That is correct.
General WHEELER. That is correct.
MODERNIZATION OF EQUIPMENT
Mr. SIKES. Let me explore this picture just a little. If we are to reduce our manpower levels, it occurs to me that it would be well to step up weapons production because we are a generation behind the Russians in weapons in inventory in many areas. Our allies are two or more generations behind in many areas. I notice that military procurement is substantially down in the 1971 budget. Aircraft procurement is at the lowest level we have had in years. Ships are down. Tanks are down. Ordnance is down. Electronics and communications are down. Construction, engineering equipment, and other procurement-down. This frightens me. I find in your statement the general purpose force threat posed by the Soviets in Europe: 1.3 million men, tanks,
piece of artillery, - combat aircraft, nuclear capable tactical rockets and missile launchers. That is two to three times