March 1, 1997
Seek Modernization . . .

“I worry that the Department [of Defense] has maintained force structure and readiness but has deferred modernization to near the breaking point.”–William S. Cohen, the new Secretary of Defense, at a January 22, 1997, hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

. . . But Don’t Cut Forces

“I do believe we’ve reached a limit. Over the last 10 years, we’ve reduced military forces by about one-third, from 2.1 million personnel to just under 1.5 million. That’s a pretty damn big reduction. . . . The force levels we’re at now, however, are about the minimum required to allow the US to maintain its role as a global superpower. . . . If we cut force structure, . . . we can no longer meet our present requirement to be able to fight two major regional conflicts nearly simultaneously. To me, that means we would no longer be able to carry out our role as a global military power.”–Retiring Defense Secretary William J. Perry, during his last interview in office on January 15, 1997, in which he argued for keeping current force levels intact.

The Big One, and Then . . .

“The [US] can never afford to lose ‘the big one.’ . . . We’ve always got to have the forces, the capabilities, to go win a major regional [conflict]. The issue that needs to be debated, then, is: How much do you need for whatever comes next? Clearly, the possibility exists that, while you’re engaged somewhere in the world, some other adversary can decide to take advantage of that. So the issue in my mind is: Do you try to attain an entire second MRC’s worth of forces and capabilities? Do you do that, say, only in the active force? Do you do it with active and Guard-type forces? . . . The issue becomes: How much can the nation afford to carry in . . . force structure, modernization, all those other things that go down the road?”–Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, USAF Chief of Staff, in a January 7, 1997, meeting with the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C.

IOC in 2003

“It is the policy of the United States to deploy by the end of 2003 a national missile defense system that . . . is capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate) and . . . could be augmented over time to provide a layered defense against larger and more sophisticated ballistic missile threats, if they emerge. . . . To implement the policy, . . . the Secretary of Defense shall develop for deployment a national missile defense system, which shall achieve an initial operational capability by the end of 2003.”–The National Missile Defense Act of 1997, a bill introduced on January 21, 1997, by Senate Republican leaders.

We’re All Prisoners

“The harsh truth is that, six years after the end of the Cold War, we are still prisoner to its psychology of distrust, still enmeshed in the vocabulary of mutual assured destruction, still in the thrall of the nuclear era. Worse, strategists persist in conjuring worlds that spiral toward chaos and concocting threats that they assert can only be discouraged or expunged by the existence or employment of nuclear weapons.”–Gen. George Lee Butler, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Air Command’s final commander in chief and now a ban-the-bomb activist, in a January 8, 1997, address to the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.

A Dissenting View

“I disagree with Gen. George Lee Butler’s conclusion. . . . I did not endorse the statement he coauthored on banning the bomb, nor have I been persuaded by his eloquence since then. . . . The net effect of General Butler’s proposal places the abolition of nuclear weapons ahead of the security of the United States. I disagree that ‘the risks posed by nuclear weapons far outweigh their presumed benefits.’ General Butler pits his intellect and judgment against all 20 . . . Secretaries of Defense, among them James Schlesinger, who has publicly disagreed with General Butler. . . .

“The end of the Cold War does not mark the end of history. Who can predict with certainty that China, a resurgent Russia, or some rogue state, such as Iraq or North Korea, might not threaten us with nuclear weapons? Let us not risk our national survival by prematurely calling for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.”–Ambassador Edward L. Rowny (Lt. Gen., USA, Ret.), former chief Strategic Arms Reduction Talks negotiator, in a January 17, 1997, letter to the Washington Post.

Lunar Filling Station

“Water . . . is . . . a very good rocket propellant. When you electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen and you liquefy them, you produce basically the same fuel that the space shuttle uses in its main engines-liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. So for the first time, we now know that there are deposits of water at the south pole of the moon, . . . apparently accessible and ready to use for this purpose. . . .

“If we were to recover [lunar water] and electrolyze it–disassociate it into hydrogen and oxygen–we would actually be able to build a filling station on the moon. One of the reasons space travel is so expensive is that we have to lug everything we need up with us from Earth’s orbit, this huge gravity well. By having materials that we can use on the moon to refuel, that’s already in Earth orbit, we save an enormous amount of weight and an enormous amount of cost. So the significance of this to the future exploration of the solar system is very profound.”–Dr. Paul Spudis, of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Rice University, Houston, Texas, at a December 3, 1996, Pentagon press conference on the discovery of a large deposit of ice on the moon.