In Focus: The Glasnost Watch and more

Sept. 1, 1987

Carlucci says that while enormous internal changes are taking place in the USSR, they are not yet re­flected in Soviet policies of greatest concern to the West. He feels the US should “wait and see.”

Washington, D. C., Aug. 5—Based on the ‘information I have seen,” White House National Security Advisor Frank C. Carlucci is hesitant to treat internal and external Soviet reforms encapsulated by the word “glasnost” as a “gen­uine” and long-term move toward openness and reconciliation with the West. He acknowledged in a recent breakfast meeting with defense writ­ers that Soviet leader Mikhail Gor­bachev’s widely touted glasnost might be nothing more than another cyclical gambit designed to “move us toward complacency.”

While he stressed in response to questions by this writer that “there are enormous internal changes taking place in the Soviet Union” and that Gorbachev appears fully committed to modernization, the White House of­ficial cautioned at the same time that “that has occurred before. More peo­ple were released from jail under Khrushchev than have been released under Gorbachev.”

Those internal changes that have been put into effect by Gorbachev, Mr. Carlucci cautioned, are not being re­flected in Soviet policy, at least not in two areas of great concern to this country: “regional issues and human rights.” The war in Afghanistan is one of the key regional issues that re­mains troublesome: “The Soviets now have more troops in Afghanistan than they had [during the tenure of President Jimmy] Carter—some 30,000 more troops.”

Calling attention to recent “hard­line” positions concerning that war taken by the Soviet leader, the White House National Security Advisor noted that “the Soviets are making noises about getting out [of Afghani­stan], but we see no signs that they are really engaged in a serious effort to do so.” Equally conspicuous is the absence of “any serious effort to bring about the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.”

Citing particular aspects of unabat­ed Soviet aggressiveness, he recom­mended the US take a “wait-and-see” attitude with regard to the meaning of glasnost. In this context, Mr. Carlucci called attention to a recent major arms shipment by the Soviets to Nica­ragua. Also, Soviet activities with re­gard to the Persian Gulf crisis “have not been helpful.” Among these dele­terious Soviet measures, he ex­plained, was the ploy of recommend­ing that all ships not belonging to regional powers be kept out of the Gulf—after the USSR arbitrarily had declared itself to be one of the region­al powers of the Gulf area.

“In that part of the world,” he add­ed, the Soviets also engage in the somewhat risky diplomacy of cultivat­ing Iran without relinquishing their ties with Iraq. “There is no question about a major [Soviet] campaign to increase their presence in the Middle East.” The campaign, he under­scored, proceeds in well-orches­trated fashion along military, diplo­matic, economic, and propagandistic lines.

While he reiterated that some “prominent” people have been re­leased from prison under Gor­bachev’s glasnost policy, the White House official pointed out “that com­pared to what the requirements are and what could be done,” these amount to only token actions. Until there is evidence of an enduring Sovi­et commitment to a more “flexible” policy, the West, he suggested, is en­titled to a “certain degree of skep­ticism.”

Turning to the pending bilateral US! USSR INF (long-range and short-range intermediate nuclear forces) accord, the White House official ac­knowledged that from the US point of view, its purpose is “principally” to set a historic “precedent by eliminat­ing a group of weapon systems [in order to] create a psychology of movement” toward strategic arms re­ductions. He acknowledged that the pending INF accord causes the US to give up weapon systems in Europe—Pershing IIs and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs)—that are ca­pable in a strategic sense of covering key parts of the Soviet target set in European Russia, whereas the Soviet INFs pose no equivalent strategic nu­clear threat to the US proper.

As a consequence, the pending INF accord tends to skew an existing im­balance even further in favor of the USSR. Pentagon analyses affirm that the US hard-target capability residing in all available ballistic missiles and strategic bombers is only about half of what would be required to cover the strategic target set of the USSR under plausible scenarios. Conversely, the Soviet Union’s strategic arsenal has about twice the firepower needed to cope with all strategic targets in this country.

Acknowledging that under the presently envisioned terms of the INF accord the US “obviously would be giving up systems that could hit the Soviet Union,” the National Security Advisor explained that “we don’t think that results in any significant military insufficiency.”

Mr. Carlucci also reported that the Soviets could readily use their new mobile SS-25 ICBMs—and field them at an accelerating rate—to cover tar­gets in NATO Europe that are now as­signed to Soviet INFs, mainly SS-20s. The latter category of MIRVed long-range nuclear theater weapons ap­parently will be banned in toto by the pending INF accord. There is evi­dence that the SS-25 ICBMs are being “made in the same plant as the SS-20s,” thus pointing up the para­mountcy of the on-site-inspection provisions of the pending INF agree­ment, Mr. Carlucci stressed.

On balance, the White House offi­cial suggested that the INF accord would nevertheless turn out to be ad­vantageous because the number of Soviet SS-20s has been growing like rabbits.” Their elimination would benefit NATO and, hence. the US, which is a member of the alliance.

Verification and on-site-inspection procedures are clearly among the most ticklish aspects of the pending accord, Mr. Carlucci pointed out. The prospect of Soviet inspectors peram­bulating through US production facil­ities is dividing the US intelligence community and also posing ques­tions in the “minds of some of our allies,” he added. Among the more stringent on-site-inspection plans un­der consideration are two-hour-notice “challenge inspections” and the stationing of six 100-member teams of “inspectors” in the other power’s territory.

Under this plan, the inspectors would have the right to gain short-notice access to any facility that could be suspected of producing weapon systems covered by the INF accord. Senate Democrats are allegedly con­sidering the possibility of blocking ratification of the pending INF agree­ment for a variety of reasons that in­cludes military disadvantages and in­trusive inspection provisions.

Mr. Carlucci, when asked about these concerns, asserted that “it is premature to make a judgment about whether the inspection [measures] would be too intrusive or not ade­quate. The President is committed to the most effective verification that can be achieved.” He explained that the two-hour-notice “challenge in­spection” provision may or may not come to pass and that it is being con­tested within the US intelligence community. Elements of that commu­nity, he explained, favor “some ex­emptions” to the challenge inspec­tion procedures now under consider­ation.

Explaining that SALT II was “rela­tively easy to verify by [the largely space-based sensor systems lumped together under the designation of na­tional technical means, or] NTM,” Mr. Carlucci reported that experts from various branches of government were in the midst of examining the ade­quacy of these devices and tech­niques with regard to INFs.

If both the INF accord and a future START (strategic arms reduction talks) agreement are signed—unless in the case of the latter “we can ban mobile missiles—we are going to have to deal with mobile missiles that are much harder to verify.” One of the fundamental problems with regard to an INF accord is that “we don’t know how many hidden missiles” the Sovi­ets might have in reserve.

The White House’s National Securi­ty Advisor suggested that in order to verify an INF accord adequately, the US will “have to have more NTM” and “more than NTM,” meaning coopera­tive inspection arrangements. He added, however. “As I understand it, the DCI [Director of Central Intelli­gence] position is [that] the current program that we have budgeted would be sufficient [eventually to meet] the verification requirements imposed on the NTM.”

This sufficiency, he pointed out, is based on acceptable probability bands. Additional verification capa­bilities could be attained by some “big shiny upgrades” of the NTM that might not necessarily represent cost-effective investments, he added. The White House official declined to dis­cuss an alleged US proposal to ban the encryption of missile flight data pertinent to an INF accord on grounds that “we have not yet seen the final” language of the accord.

Mr. Carlucci did acknowledge that the Administration is counting on START rather than an INF accord to eliminate the possibility of Soviet “breakout.” As he put it, “We see no reason to stop with INF and clap our hands and say, ‘Whoopee! Everything is done.'” Pointing out that the strate­gic systems are probably the most threatening weapons, he emphasized that the Administration is determined to follow through on the “agreement in principle” to reduce them by fifty percent that was reached at the sum­mit meeting in Iceland last fall.

So far as the seventy-two Pershing IA missiles—manned by West Ger­man forces but whose nuclear war­heads are under US control—are con­cerned, Mr. Carlucci stressed that the Administration treats these weapons as “cooperative weapons” outside of the scope of INF negotiations.

A number of changes in how the NSC functions were made when Mr. Carlucci took over as the President’s National Security Advisor at the be­ginning of this year in the wake of the “Irangate” turmoil, he reported. Cen­tral here was a directive issued by the President that the NSC will neither “implement” nor “run” covert pro­grams. This past practice, he sug­gested, created unavoidable conflicts of interest for the NSC, whose funda­mental function is to serve as the “keeper of the system.”

The NSC, along with other ele­ments of the executive branch of gov­ernment, has been working on revi­sions of the procedures governing covert US actions and has put into effect several changes, “such as ‘zero-based review’ of covert ac­tions,” Mr. Carlucci announced. The President “chaired and sat through [the meeting] as we reviewed every covert action program and termi­nated some.” Lastly, in another depar­ture from past practices, all Presi­dential intelligence findings “will be in writing” and will be briefed to perti­nent congressional committees.

Packard Commission Revisited

One year after the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management—popularly known as the Packard Commission—presented its hallmark recommendations, the group reconvened for a final assess­ment of their impact on Pentagon pro­cedures. The “report card,” in the form of a public letter to the President by the group’s chairman, David Packard, gave the Pentagon’s implementa­tion of the recommendations passing grades in some areas, but flunked it in others.

Among the group’s negative find­ings were acquisition-policy deci­sions contributing decisively to “the poor relations between the Depart­ment of Defense and industry [that] in time could seriously weaken the de­fense industrial base.” The Commis­sion’s progress review also found that the Pentagon’s tendency to increase “contractors’ risks—for example, by using firm, fixed-price contracts for development of systems—while at the same time reducing their ability to deal with this risk by changes in prog­ress payments and other policies will lead to reduced contractor invest­ments in capital equipment and re­duced Independent Research and Development.”

Criticism by the Commission reached a scathing crescendo in the assertion that “we are seeing today the same sort of acquisition-policy mistakes that characterized the en­thusiasm for total package procure­ment in the 1960s—mistakes that pro­duced the bitter contract claims dis­putes, contract restructuring, and bailout charges of the 1970s.”

Air Force Secretary Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., in a recent discussion with defense writers, strongly seconded these concerns of the Packard Com­mission. “We are,” he suggested “on the road to destroying our industrial base.” He called for an “across-the-board” reassessment of defense ac­quisition policies with an eye on let­ting contractors make “profits that are consistent with the risks’ that are entailed in high-tech programs.

Almost universally, he complained, “we have removed the incentives for defense industry to take the risks nec­essary to [advance] technology [to the degree needed] to support future weapon systems.” A number of mea­sures—such as profit margin stan­dards, progress payment procedures, and the trend toward more cost shar­ing—that by themselves look like good ideas “have the overall effect of reducing the incentive for contractors to invest in defense and take those risks necessary to move technology forward,” Secretary Aldridge warned.

The motivation behind these ex­treme acquisition standards, he said, is largely based on the spurious per­ception that the defense industry reaps higher profit margins than in­dustry in general when in fact the op­posite is true. Anybody doubting the veracity of this assertion ‘should ask around Wall Street. . . . They will tell you [that] defense profits lag behind the general margins,” Secretary Al­dridge suggested.

While painting a generally gloomy picture, the Packard Commission’s latest assessment called attention to “one important, positive trend in the field of defense-industry relations—[to wit], significant efforts by industry and the Defense Department in the fields of industry self-governance and voluntary disclosure.”

Moreover, the Packard Commission charged that Congress’s habit of funding defense programs in an er­ratic fashion is “beginning to pose se­rious problems for our long-term na­tional security.” Pointing out that for the last three years the actual con­gressional appropriations for defense have been significantly less than the amount in the budget forecast made by Congress the previous year, the Commission reiterated its original finding that “more defense can be provided per dollar appropriated within a stable program, sustained and predictable over several years.” Opposition in Congress to “adequate and stable levels of funding our de­fense” has denied that stability.

The Packard Commission roundly faulted the Defense Department on grounds that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition “has not been given adequate authority.” The letter to the President charged that the De­partment promulgated policies that “severely undercut the role of con­tracting officers and the ability of managers to direct programs suc­cessfully.”

Compounding the problem is the fact that “auditors have been given responsibilities outside their compe­tence,” the Commission asserted. In addition, these auditors have been provided with a “separate chain of command in a way that, in effect, makes them rivals of contracting offi­cers, [thereby] undercutting the ac­quisition plan we set forth to you—a plan that was based on strong pro­gram officers capable of effective management.”

This problem “results both from legislation that gives authority for au­dit policy to the Inspector General in­stead of the Under Secretary of De­fense for Acquisition and from De­fense Department implementation that assigns to defense auditors con­tractual responsibilities previously held by the contracting officer,” ac­cording to the Packard Commission.

Pointing out that even the best ac­quisition procedures and reforms will fail if the able managers who are needed to make them work can’t be attracted to government service, the Commission stressed the importance of reforms that make it possible for managers “with experience in, and understanding of, the relevant indus­tries to serve in acquisition-related jobs in government.” But the letter notes that “current divestiture rules and their tax consequences and re­volving-door legislation virtually pro­hibit such service for most people who have the relevant types of indus­trial experience.”

Washington Observations

« As an integral element of the Ad­ministration’s formal overall national security strategy, President Reagan approved this summer specific poli­cies governing US actions with regard to “low-intensity conflict.” The cor­nerstone of the US LIC strategy “is to act to prevent the onset of violence.” In line with this emphasis on deter­rence, the new guidelines mandate “steps to discourage Soviet and other state-sponsored adventurism and in­crease the costs to those who use proxies or terrorist and subversive forces to exploit instability in the Third World.” Policy coordination for LIC is being assigned to a “Board for Low-Intensity Conflict, chaired at the National Security Council.”

This new organization was man­dated by Congress last year by an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947. Among the provisions of the White House National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) is support of resistance movements “seeking freedom or self-determination that are acting in opposition to regimes inimical to US interests.” This sup­port is to be provided in “political, informational, economic, and mili­tary” form on a selective basis. The overall tenor of the LIC strategy is to counter Soviet-sponsored de­stabilization of the Third World by “measures to strengthen selected na­tions facing internal and external threats to their independence and stability.”

The new LIC Board will be headed by the National Security Advisor, in­clude representatives from such agencies as the State and Defense Departments as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, and confine its activities to policy coordination, “without any operational responsibil­ities.” Among the Board’s tasks is de­velopment of indicators of low-inten­sity conflict trends as well as formula­tion of policies governing US re­sponses to evolving LIC situations.

« The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), reportedly requested that the White House furnish his commit­tee copies of all NSDDs (national se­curity decision directives), probably the most sensitive documents of the executive branch. Indications at this time are that the White House will re­fuse this request.

« Administration officials reject charges that the pending INF accord contains intrinsic blemishes by point­ing out that the Pershing IIs and GLCMs the US would give up are basi­cally “sitting ducks.” They contend that these systems are hardened to only five psi (pounds of overpressure per square inch) and in effect are “not mobile” because of constraints im­posed by the NATO host countries.

« Air Force Secretary Aldridge re­cently disclosed that the Air Force last year had a net loss in the number of pilots. The service lost 375 more ac­tive-duty pilots than it produced in 1986. The cost of producing a com­bat-ready pilot is about $6 million.