Time of Uncertainty: Lecture given by SACEUR General John R. Galvin in Det Krigsvidenskabelige Selskab 24. januar 1989
Tirsdag d. 24. januar talte SACEUR general John R. Galvin, i Det krigsvidenskabelige Selskab om aktuelle internationale problemer og NATO. Det var en stor aften i Selskabet med over 150 tilhørere, der fik lejlighed til at høre en særdeles veloplagt SAECUR give en fremragende forelæsning, som Generalen velvilligt har givet Militært tidsskrift tilladelse til at bringe.
It is a pleasure to be here today. Let me say, in advance, although we have an hour and a half, I don’t intend to speak for an hour and a half. Somebody told me a long time ago that the rules for a speaker should be to have a good introduction and a good ending and keep the two as close together as possible. I’ll try to do that. I will take about a half hour, no more. Then we can have a question and answer period, and then I can be sure that I have actually hit the target, and that I am talkning about what you would Hke to hear, if we do that. I understand that this is an old bakeiy for the Army, so I will see if I can give you a good confection here in the first thirty minutes. Let me start by saying that we are in very uncertain times, times where the ability to understand exactly what is going on is very necessary. A man went to the eye doctor and said to him: »Doctor, I need glasses«. The doctor said: »How do you know you need glasses? I haven’t even given you the test yet«. The man said: »I know I need glasses because what I am hearing is not what I’m seeiag«. I sometimes think that I need glasses and I try to explain that. In fact, I know I need glasses. Let me talk first about the situation and how I see it, or maybe ask you some questions about how you see it. We certainly are, with reference to NATO and the Warsaw Pact, in a time of change and a time of uncertainty. We have questions about such things as Glasnost, Perestroika, new thinking, and reasonable sufficiency. The Soviets themselves are having some trouble coming to conclusions as to exactly what these things are. In fact, there is some very good humor that comes out of the Soviet Union with reference to Perestroika. For example, there is a story that a fox is going through the forest of the Ural mountains and he comes upon a raven flying backwards through the forest which is a big surprise to him. So he says to the raven: »What is this flying backwards«? And the raven says: »This is Perestroika«. So the fox says: »Ahh«! And he begins to go running backwards through the forest, but when you’re running backwards you can’t see very well, so he runs into a bear. When he finally manages to escape from the bear, he has been wounded in many places. He finds the raven again, and the raven is still flying backwards through the woods. The fox this time says to the raven: »I don’t really think I like this Perestroika«. The raven says: »Ah-ah! I forgot to tell you. Perestroika is only for the high flyers«. When you see little stories like that, you can see people are thinking a great deal about such things as Perestroika. And I think we need to think a great about them.
Gorrbachev, of course, has made a speech in the United Nations on the 7th of December in which he announced that he was going to take out 500.000 military personnel, 10.000 tanks, 800 aircraft, and 8.500 artillery pieces. That certainly is a significant move and a great step in the right direction. But there has been more than that. Now we have heard Minister Scheverdnadze comment on top of that and say: »When we move the troops out, we’re also going to move their nuclear weapons out«. He and some of the other Soviets have corrected that and said: »Well, we’re going to move some nuclear weapons out«. And then yesterday they said: »Well, we might move a few nuclear weapons out. Maybe a few - a dozen - maybe more«.
These things make us stop and wonder how to understand them. What does this really mean? I think it’s important.It does mean that there will be a reduction of about ten percent of the force that faces NATO. But the force that faces NATO is about three times as big as NATO, at least in terms of its tanks, and about three times as big in terms of its artillery. It is the tanks and the artillery that worry us, because those are the things that aid in gaining ground and taking territory. They should be of concern to us. When ten percent is removed, even including the fact that six forward divisions would be taken out by President Gorbachev, there will still be a great imbalance. The Soviet side would still be, in tanks, about two and a half times as big as we are. So, it would be some reduction, but not a reduction that should make us feel safe, secure, and happy. But there are some things in those speeches that should make us feel better. For one thing, Gorbachev had said much earlier that if there are two sides facing each other and if one side is bigger than the other, the big side should come down. He applied that to nuclear weapons. But in the 7 December speech, he transferred that from nuclear weapons over to the conventional side, which is very good. That is, in fact, the most important part of the speech as far as I’m concerned. The Soviets have spent forty years making a very strong conventional force which is capable of moving large units very rapidly in offensive operations over long distances with no pauses and good sustainment and very good command and control and communications. That has been the work of the Soviet Army over all that time. We have seen that in their doctrine, planning, and we definitely see it almost always in their exercises. And so, that has been a part that has really been of concern to us. Now Gorbachev has said: »We will look at the conventional side and we’ll bring it down«. He has also admitted in that speech, for the first time, that the Soviet were, indeed, oriented and postured for offensive operations. He has said: »We will take out some of the things that are for offensive operations, such as assault river crossing units and equipment and amphibious assault units«, which should be very important, by the way, for Denmark, and the tanks and the artillery which are offensive weapons, especially if you build up the sizes that the Soviets have. In addition to saying: »I’m bigger«, he has said: »And I was offensively oriented«. This is not new. This is what was said also when Marshal Akhromeyev came to the United States. He gave, there, a very good speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and he said; »We were postured for the offense, but we will change that, and we will posture ourselves for the defense«. That was the first time that any Soviet marshal, that I know of, had admitted that offensive orientation. For years, in fact, Akhromeyev and others had insisted that they were defensively aranged and not offensively arranged. Those two comments by President Gorbachev were very, very important, but he also said he would take out 800 aircraft, which I think is significant because the Soviets have said for quite some time now that the West is bigger in the number of aircraft. That, by the way, is not true. The Soviet and the Warsaw Pact are about twice as big as we are with aircraft, but they count aircraft differently. Maybe in theii own minds, they have said to themselves in the past that they are smaller in aircraft and we are bigger. They have 1.700 aircraft which they count as home defense interceptors. But those interceptors are the same type of aircraft that can be used for ground attack or for general attack purposes. In fact, the pilots of those interceptors train a portion of their time in attack roles. We count those as attack aircraft. We are willling to put together and simply call them ’combat aircraft’, if they are combat, and compare them to the Soviets side. I think Gorbachev recognizes that, or he would not, being the smaller side, take out 800 aircraft. Another thing that I think is something that we would look at is that in all the times that Gorbachev has said the bigger side should come down, he didn’t say: »And the small side should come down also«. Of course, it doesn’t make military sense for the smaller side to reduce also. It would be very difficult for us to try to go out and tell the soldier in the trenches, or the sailor on the ship, or the pilot for an aircraft that the Soviets before were three times as big as we were, now they are two and a half times as big as we are, so, therefore, we should reduce. A soldier wouldn’t understand that. For political reasons, psychological reasons, and negotiating reasons, it may be convenient to make some reductions, but not as far as I can see for military reasons.
What is NATO going to do?
Again, as we look at what Scheverdnadze has said and what the others, such as Yazov, have said, we should say to ourselves: »Is it time now for us to do something«? This is a question that I have met very often. Well, they have reduced, what are we going to do? Nothing? How can we just do nothing at all in terais of such an important action on their part? I think that we should look at what we already have done. We have feared all along Soviet ground attack on the conventional side. They have feared our nuclear weapons. Twice in the last ten years we have made big reductions in our nuclear weapons. First, a reduction of 1.000, second, a reduction of 1.400. That is more than 40 percent of all of the nuclear weapons that we had in Europe. They have reduced ten percent of the force that worries us - the ground attack force - and we have reduced 40 percent of the force that worries them. And we were the smallest in the beginning. How much more of this should we do in terms of unilateral reductions? Well, I think we probably can do some more. I have just turned in my study, as SACEUR, on the nuclear weapons requirements for the future - the next ten years in Europe. And what that study says is: If we can continue to modernize our equipment, both on the conventional, but in this case, the nuclear side, then we ought to be able to make another good size reduction in the overall number of nuclear warheads. In making that report, I am following the guidance that was given to me by NATO, which said: »Try to reduce the number of short-range nuclear warheads and emphasize the longer-ranges«. In my study, I have done that. I have severely reduced the shorter range artillery rounds. I have depended instead on aircraft with bombs and on missiles. But when you come to missiles, we really don’t have a missile. We have Lance. It is an old weapon. By 1995, Lance will not be dependable and it must be replaced by something else. Why replace Lance at aU? Let me try to answer that. What we have is short-range artillery. The political leadership of NATO has been quite correct in ascertaining that the shorter range artillery is really not very much help. It doesn’t really deter war and if we were to fight a war, it could only be used on the front lines, and that wouldn’t be enough. Therefore, you have to have some kind of capability to strike against the momentum of the forces that are attacking you. That is the second and third echelon forces. You had to have the capability, if necessary, to go deeper than that to deliver a message that says: We want war to stop! That is if you are fighting a war, in the first place. Hopefully, we will not fight a war in the first place, because we will maintain the good deterrence of war. If you have only aircraft, and we took out the Lance, there would only be aircraft carrying bombs, or there would be the artillery. Those aircraft come from a fixed, small number of bases. They are easily targeted. You can’t put aircraft out in the woods, camouflage them, and hide them. But you can put Lance out in the woods, camouflage it, and hide it. But Lance is growing old. And so, as with any other piece of equipment, we need to continue to modernize and update the equipment. The British in World War II flew the Spitfire. Today they fly the Tornado - same mission, entirely different aircraft, but it is still basically the same. It is an aircraft with two wings and it flies the same ground attack or fighter missions. Everytime the aircraft was modernized from the Spitfire on up to now, the British took advantage of whatever technology was available. That’s what we’ve done in modernizing everything. We can look at this in modernizing automobiles as well. You aren’t driving the same kind of automobile that you had twenty years ago. Some of our pilots, by the way, are flying aircraft that are older than they are. Definitely, our soldiers are guarding tanks that are older than they are, and trucks, even, that are older than they are. There comes a point when everything, at its due time, has to be modernized. If we had the modem Lance, we would be able to then put it out in the countryside where no one knew where it was. And so, therefore, it would be a much greater deterrent factor because no one thinking about attack could say convincingly: »And I can make sure that Lance won’t come back on us in some kind of counter-attack«. Because it will be hidden. I think that we need to continue with the modenization. The main point is: If we do that, we can, again, reduce in the overall number of nuclear weapons. I hope to be able to do that. We will see that all the nations, including Denmark, will be studying that report of mine and within a few months, we will make a decision as to whether or not it is acceptable.
Is the process irreversible?
As you know, Eric Honecker spoke about the East German Republic yesterday, and announced that there would be a military cut there too, which I think we all should welcome. In addition to the DDR forces, the Soviet forces will also be reduced. All of that is helpful along the lines that I mentioned before. I thinh that is a good step down the right road as we into the Conventional Stability Talks in Vienna. I hope that those will start soon. I think that we very often say to ourselves; »The Soviets have the initiative. They keep coming up with all the recommendations and all we do is react to that«. I think, as I said a couple of days ago, we are very hard on ourselves in this kind of thing.
First of all, if you are the bigger side, you can afford to make concessions. Also, if you have a much tighter control, you can make quick decisions because you don’t have to consult with anybody. I was in the United States last week and people said: »Our decisions are very slow«. I said: »Well, if we had a Kremlin, we could make the decisions very rapidly. But do you really want one«? We live in a society where everyone has to consult. We don’t have, in this collective defense of NATO, some one political leadership from one country who can stand up and speak for all of us without consultation. I don’t think any of us want that to change. If you have been aggressive in the past, you can also be conciliatory now. I think that we’re seeing a lot of that. But, really, where has the initiative been? We have said in the West for years that the Soviets are offensively oriented, they are too big, their forces are too strong for defense, it’s not needed, they could cut their forces in at least half and still have the kind of defense that anybody would consider appropriate. Now we are beginning to see a reaction to that. I think that maybe in the short term we could criticize ourselves and say: »We don’t seem to be indicating enough initiative here«. I think in the long term it has been our initiative to which the Soviets are now responding. However you want to look at that, I think we have to say that the Soviet Union has entered a time of enormous transition. Last summer at the convention in Moscow, the Soviets also told us all and the rest of the world that they really don’t know where this transition is leading them, but it is going to be a big transition. Lately, the Soviets have been saying: »It is probably irreversible. We have started down a road and we cannot change and come back«. This is important to all of us in the West, too, because the Soviets can’t make such an enormous transition without effecting us. We are part of that transition. Whatever comes of that transition will effect us in a very strong way. But that transition is not predictable right now. So, in effect, what has really happened here is not, in my mind, what I’m hearing. I’m not seeing what I’m hearing. And so, I do need glasses. As the Commander who would have to command the ground forces of Allied Command Europe in wartime, I have to make sure I am seeing correctly. Before this, we had a big Soviet Union, but a predictable Soviet Union. Now, we have a big Soviet Union that is not as predictable as it was before. And we don’t know what will happen as we go down the years of the 90s. And so, what should we do about this?
I think what we should do is if the Soviets are not going to be very predictable at this time and if there is an element of potential instability there, we should try to be as stable and predictable as we possibly can. That will contribute, I think, more to deterrence of war than anything else. How can we do that? Fortunately, for us, we asked that question twenty years ago with Pierre Harmel. He came back with a response, after studying the issue for about one year, that NATO should remain strong, but should be willing to negotiate - willing to dialogue with the other side. I think that is exactly what we should do now. I don’t see any need to vary from the advice we were given then. How can we do this - stray strong, but dialogue and converse and negotiate? Well, first, in straying strong, we have to look at our strategy, which is the strategy of Forward Defense and Flexible Response. It is not, by the way, an orthodox, classical, defensive strategy. It would not be the kind of strategy that is taught in the schools of the military forces in Denmark. When you talk about classic strategy of defense, we all would recognize the works that go with that. The defender doesn’t know where the attack will come or when. So, therefore, he has to try to give ground in order to gain time to find where the main attack is. He has to try to keep a strong reserve and shape any penetration which he gets into his territory so that he can counterattack against the vulnerable flank of this penetration.This is what is normally taught in the schools - give ground to gain time, if you are on the defense. This is not what we, as a collective, in this Alliance, agreed to as a strategy. We said we would not give ground, we would stay forward. And we would not rely as much on maneuver. That is, using large areas of terrain in order to conduct our defense. But we would rely more on firepower. If there was a triad - a three-way aspect to the strategy - we would have direct defense, deliberate escalation, and general nuclear response, if necessary. We would, first, have as a primary mission, the deterrence of war. But if war came, we would defend against any kind of force that came against us, and we would match that force for force. If we were unable to match it conventionally, we would match it with nuclear forces. That is the strategy that is called MC 14/3, which is Forward Defense and Flexible Response. We could do something else. There are many different kinds of strategies for defense. We could go to Massive Retaliation, which is a strategy that we all know very well because it was the strategy of NATO until about twenty years ago when we decided that it was not credible. I think that that decision was a good one. It is not credible today either. We could go to this classic strategy, except you have to give ground. On the Central Front, that means, in the Federal Republic of Germany. On the Northern Front, it can mean Denmark, Norway. And, of course, on the Southern Flank, it can mean Turkey, Greece, or even Northern Italy. But all of those countries do not want that kind of strategy. And so, instead of having that, we’ve had the Forward Defense. But those are not the only kind. We could go to the so-called ’defensive defense’, whatever that means. It means different things to different people. But basically it means no mobility, and that becomes very dangerous right from the start. If you don’t have firepower and you don’t have mobility, you don’t have very much of a defense. And if you look at it the way some nations have, it would be to allow an enemy to enter and then to fight that enemy after he has entered. I would call that a last ditch desperation defense. We are really not that desperate. I would not like to see us move to a defensive defense. We could move to a defense of No-First Use. We could pledge no use of nuclear weapons. If we do that, we loose the deterrence of the nuclear weapon and we also loose the firepower capability of nuclear weapons. One thing that I think we have to recognize is that, like gunpowder, nuclear weapons have been invented and they cannot be disinvented. As long as there is the capability of producing nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons are going to figure as part of defense. If we take a look, for example, at this fortification where we are today, this fortification is what replaced earlier versions that were straight walled castles because at that time there was no gunpowder. It was a castle that defended against arrows. This castle is the new star-shaped construction with a heavy use of built-up terrain because gunpowder had been invented! Design and tactics changed because technology had changed. The nuclear weapon, at the same time, is a powerful force for deterrence because political leadership of a nation will listen to military advice and other expert advice, and they will also listen, on the other hand, to the man in the street. There is no military leader today who contemplates nuclear war who would go to his political leadership and say: »I can guarantee you that if we go into this war and we attack these people, we will gain more than we could lose«. You simply can’t say that when you have nuclear weapons. You couldn’t gain more than you would loose. Political leadership does not get that kind of advice from the military, whether they are in the Soviet Union or anybody else. The political leadership also listens to the man in the street. And in earlier years, it was very easy for the man in the street to say: »Let’s go to war about this. Out reputations and pride is at stake here«. That was because the trenches were far, far away. But the man in the street knows that i the nuclear war, the trenches are right there outside his house, and so, he doesn’t say those jingoistic things about ’let’s go to war’. It is a grand irony that the power of nuclear weapons may be the thing that keeps us at peace, not that drives us to war. For these reasons, I don’t see using that kind of a strategy. We could talk about another kind of defense that is taught in the schools, not the classic one, but that is the preemptive defense, which is normally taught to military cadets as they are coming along as spoiling attack. This means that you preemt. You decide that the other side is going to attack you, so you attack him first. Except that we have also said we would never attack anyboby. And so, in order to adapt a strategy like that, we would have to completely change all of the guidance that we’ve given to the military commanders in NATO since the beginning of NATO. I don’t think that’s going to happen. The reason that I take you down through several of these possibilities in defense is to say to you that we do not have a strategy simply because we cannot think of another strategy, or that stero-typical, conservativ generals and admirals have decided that they are familiar with this strategy, therefore, it is a good strategy. It is not that at all. We study a strategy over and over and over to see if it needs to be adapted and changed in any way. The answer to it, as far as I can see now, is that the forward defense/flexible response strategy has done very well by us over the past twenty years. We have seen enormous technological change, not only with ourselves, but also with our potential adversaries, and yet the strategy still works very well. The first part of what Pierre Harmel has said: »Be strong«! I think we should try to support the strategy that we have. We should support it on the conventional side and we should support it on the nuclear side until the day comes that we could find a better strategy, or the day comes that at the table for negotiations, we are able to reduce the confrontational aspect of the two great coalitions facing each other here in Europe. I think that that is distinctly possible. Given the indications that the other side has made with some of these unilateral reductions in the past weeks and months, I think that we are finally at the place that we have sought to be for all these years. We are going to have a negotiation about conventional arms. By the way, if we have that negotiation, we should try to reach a parity - some kind of rough equalness. But if we are able to do that, it will be because we have remained strong, not because we begin to make more unilateral consessions. I certainly hope that we do not drop down in the size of our armed forces before go into the meetings with the Soviet Union and the rest of the Warsaw Pact in the so-called ’CAFE Talks’, or the negotiations on conventional arms control.
Negotiations with the Soviets
The other part of what Pierre Harmel said is that in addition to remaining strong, we should negotiate. Let me talk a little bit about negotiation. I think that the Soviets will do what Minister Scheverdnadze said the other day .They will come out before the end of this month and tell us the data. In other words, the numbers on their equipment, manpower, and so forth - their armament. That, again, is not an initiative of theirs. That’s what we’ve been asking them for fourteen years in the Mutual Balanced Force Reduction Talks (MBFR), which they would never give us. You know that NATO published its detailed analysis, not only of our side, but of their side, a few weeks ago. They are now going to respond. That is a big step. That is something that does take us down the road another significant mile. And if then we can move toward parity, then we can see what else we can do from there. I feel that the point that NATO has made, that is, reduce now to 40.000 tanks total in the two sides facing each other in the area from the Atlantic to the Urals, is a great step. That would mean 20.000 on each side. You can see the imbalance when you think about what would we all have to do to reach 20.000 tanks on each side. We would have to reduce 2.500 tanks, which is a lot of tanks. But the Soviet Union would have to reduce 35.000 tanks. This shows you the difference. The Soviets have always said: »Yes, we’re a little bigger than you in tanks, but you’re bigger in some other ways«. In some other ways. If someone is 35.000 tanks bigger than you are, that difference is so enormous that all the other differences begin to fads with comparison to it. I think it’s a very good thing to do. I think that if the Soviets are interested in parity that that would be a marvelous move even if we couldn’t get down to 40.000 tanks, if we could get down close to that. Therefore, I think that was a very great statement we made.
If that is possible, then we could see where we could go from there. And I certainly think we should not rule out reductions in nuclear weapons as well as conventional weapons as well as reductions in tactical nuclear weapons. My mission is to deter war, first. And then if that doesn’t work, to fight. Therefore, anything that reduces the level of confrontation, carries my mission. Obviously, I would support that as I strongly support moving to the talks themselves. I think, in fact, that we have von the first battle of the campaign with the INF Treaty. In the INF Treaty, we got not only the admission that one side was bigger, but that the Warsaw Pact should come down first. Right now I am conducting the verification of that treaty. The numbers in that verification should show you this imbalance also. The Soviets are inspecting 25 locations on our side in verifying that the Pershing II and the Ground-Launched Cruise Missile are going out. We are inspecting 133 locations on the Soviet side for the same thing. That is for the SS-20, SS-12, SS-22, and the other weapons that the Soviets are taking out. That is part of the difference. But that verification is something that could not have happened in the years before now, and it has happened now. That also has been in response to our pressure. We have said for years and years that we are an open society, the East is a closed society, and we would like them to be more open and w'e would like to exchange information with them, not only exchange data, but actually go and errify it. We are doing that. So, we have won that first battle in the campaign. Now, we go into the second battle in the campaign. I think we should do the same thing that we did to win the first one, and that is to stay strong. The way we won the first one is to not give up a whole lot. We did give up 2.400 nuclear warheads. That must have given the Soviet Union some confidence that we were serious about the requirement to reduce the level of confrontation. But it took a long time for them to respond and now they have. I mentioned to you that I think that we should not reduce on the air side because the Soviets are still bigger. When the data comes out at the end of this months, you will see this, or if we don’t see this, we will have a big argument with the Soviet Union because we have counted those aircraft of theirs over and over, and they are about twice as big as we are. In combat aircraft, they are twice as big as we are. We will sea now what they say about is. The 800 aircraft, by the way, is a large amount. They were about 2.000 aircraft bigger than we are, and that brings it down by almost half. That’s very important to us. Let’s see what else they will be willing to do.
In terms of naval power, I think we have to look very carefully at that. Naval power for us means reinforcement. It allows us to bring forces across from North America in time of war. If we had a need to bring forces over for a wartime situation, it would require in the first weeks the sailing of 1.000 ships. There would be 1.000 shippings coming across the North Atlantic sea lanes. The only way to protect those 1.000 shiploads would be not simply to provide for convoys for them, but to make sure that the Soviet Navy was not in the North Atlantic, and especially, their submarines. In World War II, the United States lost over 300 commercial ships in the first three months of 1942 when the enemy submarines never reached a level higher than 13 in the American coastal waters. The Soviets can put 40 or 50 nuclear killer submarines in the North Atlantic anytime they want. And so, what we have to do is have a navy that is strong enough to keep that from happening. A navy does not take terrain away from anybody. It is for other purposes. I think we need to be very careful about the way that we study what to do in the future with the Navy. We don’t have to study that right now. We don’t have to put it on the table because the discussions were agreed to be about Western Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. That did not include the Atlantic Ocean. At some point, we will have to discuss navies, but now is not the time to do that. First, we need to get down to some kind of security, and that security would be relatively equal forces - parity for us. Let me say one last thing. The NATO Alliance, as we look at in the future, is going to face a time of uncertainty. There are great unpredictabilities that we are looking at; probably a more fluid situation than we have ever had since the Alliance began. Certainly a more unpredictable adversary than we ever had before. As we look at that, I think we should remember that the Alliance is not an alliance simply for defense. It is an alliance that, besides being built on the requirement for security, is built on a unity of outlook in terms of a way of life - democracy, free enterprise, respect for human rights, liberty and the prosperity that we have gained because of it. I think that that is something that we want to see continue in the near future. So, it is a question of values as well as it is a question of security. I appreciate very much the opportunity to see you and to talk to you this afternoon about the ways that I see things, as the Commander of Allied Command Europe, and how I view the future. I think we can look ahead with a lot of optimism, and I am an optimist about this. I think we can get a lowering of the tension and the problems that we’ve seen here, because I do think that there is some willingness on the Soviet side to move in that direction. How far? I don’t know. But I do know that that willingness has come about because of a Soviet view, and I think a correct view, that the Soviet Union at the present time is in a terrible state in terms of its economy. The Soviet Union has taken a new road, but that road, like the roads out front today, is a little bit foggy, and Fam not really sure where it leads and the Soviets are not sure either. As we look ahead, I think we have to be very careful negotiators. We ought to negotiate with a feeling of common sense ans objectivity and not euphoria and wishful thinking.
Thank you very much.
Efter foredraget var der lejlighed til at stille spørgsmål til General Galvin. Spørgsmålene og SACEURs svar bringes i det følgende.
Q: Will the announced Soviet reductions have any impact on NATO structure?
General Galvin: Yes, I think it will. It certainly will have some consequences. Whether it is in structure or not, is a question I can answer for you. The first consequence is that NATO has issued what is called the General Political Guiedelines. It took 15 years of study to issue those. I the meantime we went along with temporary provisional political guidelines, meaning guidelines as to how the commanders should fight the war if the defense became necessary. The result of that have been, as you said, an indication of the changing view of the use of nuclear weapons - and that is to not use short range nuclear weapons to the extent they were contemplated before. So we will see reductions in short range nuclear weapons. The other part, as you said, it is obvious to me and I think to most of the military leadership in NATO, that we need to study more, the command and control - what we call it in the jargon is »the command and control at echelons above corps«; what we ought to call it is »generalship«. What we need is generals who have practiced the art of large operations. The Soviets have that but we do not because we have, for years, not paid enough attention to that. We say, »Doctrine is a national responsibility«. Training is a national responsibility. Logistics is a national responsibility. But we don’t fight the war as nations. We fight a war as an Alliance, as a group of divisions which belong to corps and corps which belong to armies, and armies which belong to army groups. Somebody has to be in command of all of that. That person has to have some vision in terms of what we call »operational art«. So I would think we will see changes in the organization, that is, strengthening of the commands at levels above corps. We need change in doctrine that do more than fill the gap between tactics and strategy. We need changes in the doctrine that make better use of combinations of air, land and sea operations. We can’t be like Nelson at Trafalgar. Nelson didn’t have any air operations. He didn’t have any undersea operations. Wellington at Waterloo didn’t have any air operations and sea operations and other things to worry about. All he had to do was combine the ground capability. Now we need to do much more than that. Some of us instead of combining all of that together as leaders, have become technicians. We’ve become more involved. When we talk, we talk about iron on the battlefield, we don’t talk about doctrine on the battlefield. So yes, we will see those changes, I hope.
Q. How do you see the situation in the Soviet Army?
General Galvin: I would like to start off by saying something about Soviet military leadership and then we’ll do Soviet armed forces. I think that what you are seeing and what you have seen over the past year, especially, is the very strong and successful attempt by President Gorbachev to gain control of the Soviet military. He started this by indicating that it was necessary for the Communist Party to be the leader in military strategi. The Soviet marshals answered that by saying, »Yes, of course, the Party is the leader. You tell us to defend the country and we will take it from there«. But Gorbachev said, »No, I mean more detailed than that«. The next thing that he has tried to do is understand what the defense industry is costing him which he doesn’t know. I think, in fact, one of the rather ironic statements was when he came out the other day and said, »19.5% of our production will be reduced and 14.2% of the cost of the defense«. But 14.2% of the cost of what? He has said for months that he doesn’t know what the cost of defense is so how can you find 14.2% percent of it. It does indicate that he’s very concerned about the cost of defense and one way of another he’s going to try to bring it under control. That was the second move. The Soviet military have told the military on the NATO side, »We don’t know what a tank costs« They do not know what a tanks costs. How do you run a railroad if you don’t know what the locomotive cost. The next thing is that Gorbachev moved to develop a way, in the Soviet Union, so that the marshals would not be the only ones who talked about military strategy. You see, the marshals in the Soviet Union, over a time, I think you know, have established what you might call a constituency. That is everybody - the man in the street in the Soviet Union - believes that only the marshals should talk about military strategy. Gorbachev doesn’t believe that and he wants it changed. So he has gone to the intellectuals and said, »I want you to talk about military strategy«. So now for the first time we have think tanks in the Soviet Union which have been unheard of not long ago. We have military experts - civilians - talkning about militaiy things. The marshals have always thought that was a cardinal sin; now that is happening. Another very important thing is that Gorbachev realizes that the last veteran of World War II left the Politburo last September. There aren’t any more veterans of World War II in the Politburo but the marshals have all been veterans of World War H. Ahkromeyev was a sergeant atLeningrad. So the marshals have been able to adapt a rather paternalistic attitude toward the political leadership when it comes to military matters. But one by one, those marshals have gone in a very short period of time. Only OgarkovandYazov and Viktor Kulikov are left as veterans ofWorld Warll who are in positions of serious importance in the military right now. The new commander of all forces in the Soviet Union is 49 years old, so he does not have the influence that those very senior 70-odd year old marshals had. That’s another thing. What Gorbachev is doing is he is trying to bring the military imder political control to a greater degree than they were in the past. I don’t think they were outside of political control, not at all. I think that apparently, most of the political leadership in the Soviet Union over the past 20 years has been relatively satisfying. There has always been an ares in which the politicians didn’t go deeper and that is the area where the marshals are. That is all going away. In terms of the army forces, by the way, another initiative of Gorbachev is to get the Army out of Afghanistan. In terms of the army as it looks at itself right now, there is, I think, general support for Secretary Gorbachev but there is general worry also in the army and especially in the army leadership as to what is going to happen. I think the most important thing for them was the out of 500.000 personnel which hasn’t happened, of course, none of these things that we’ve talked about have happened but they show signs of happening in the future. What the army has done is to revert back and this has been over the recent years - the last five years - to a different configuration. Before this, there was no echelon between army level of command and division level of command. Divisions belonged to armies. There were no corps in there. The Soviets now seem to be moving to a corps level of operations. Actually, a corps level of operation - if it is organized correctly, that is, not too much emphasis on logistics and mostly a command that emphasizes operation and a small command relative to, say, the army level or army group level - allows you to have much more rapid operations on the ground. Also it allows you to have better coordination with air. I think you will see the Soviet ground forces move toward that organization even more rapidly now, because they will be losing some capability and they will want to try to make up for it in some other way.
Q: In reference to burdensharing, what is your opinion as a military commander?
General Galvin: I think that the European nations are not supporting the force goals which they know should be supported. In other words, every nation has indicated and agreed on what the force goals should be - the support for the strategy. But none of the nations are completely supporting it, to include the United States. The United States military budget is flat, like the British budgets and like some other budgets. If it stays that way, we’re in trouble. We’re in trouble in two ways. The first way is that you cannot maintain the force that you have, either in Denmark or the United States, with a flat budget. You can’t maintain. You can’t keep the force going, pay the troops, continue to modernize at a moderate, reasonable rate, pay for the repairs, construction, and the general upkeep for the cost of doing business. What you have to do is eat into your own structure in order to pay the way. It’s like an old locomotive with three or four cars on it. You have to go back and chop the last car up in pieces and put in the locomotive to keep running. It is impossible with a flat budget to be able to do more than that.
The other thing is that a flat budget means you have to cut programs. The cost of cutting programs then has to be added on also, because you never can stop a program without cost. This adds additional cost. You can’t plan ahead and properly lay out the costs of things. Flat budgets are going to be very, very difficult. This is what we have, but we also have it, as I say, in the United States. I think if we know what it is that need in order to have the strategy with have to make the sacrifices necessary to pay for that strategy. What we should do is not achieve economies by cutting the budget, we should achieve long-run economies by reducing the overall level of confrontation which goes back to the negotiating table. Over the long run if we can drop down to 40.000 tanks, that means we 2.500 tanks that don’t have to be fed with fuel, crews, and so forth. The way that you can achieve savings is in the reduction of conventional forces. The nuclear forces really don’t give you that much saving. But the conventional forces, because it is the daily upkeep that costs you money. In the long-run, it is the military construction and the repairs that you have make on that, the pay of the troops, and so forth. It is the cost of the quality of life that you are providing. Those are the things where there is room to save money, but the only way to do that is to negotiate. If we try to do it some other way, we are selling our security. We are saving money, but we are building risks. We don’t want to build risks. That is not the way to go. We already are at a level where we should not be satisfied with the risk to deterrence that we have right now. That is what I try to tell the countries. To answer your question, specifically, about burden-sharing, the report was made by NATO. It was actually a report back to the United States. It was the United States who had asked the question about burden-sharing. That report has gone out to all the countries. The new United States Congress has already come back and is meeting. That report will be studied. It puts Europe in a better position with reference to burdensharing, because before the United States was saying: »You don’t share the burden«. But now Europe has given the report to the United States. The only thing the United States can say now is: »You don’t share the burden to the degree we would like. The report is not enough«. That is not as strong a position as they had before. That’s the general talkning to you as a politician.
Q: Would it be useful to use the reduction in SNF to trade it off for the modernization of the nuclear missiles?
General Galvin: With the report that I’ve turned in, there is a recommendation to significantly reduce the shorter range. That will happen, I think, because I think NATO will approve that. That’s my guess. The other part of it is I don’t think we should work any trade offs with the nuclear weapons in Europe for the Soviet nuclear weapons until we see what is going to happen in the conventional trade off. It is the conventional that really is a danger to us. The only way that we have of holding off against that overwhelming conventional force is to say: »We do have nuclear weapons«. And to say that in a convincing way. That’s what we’ve done for forty years. A far better way would be to go to the negotiating table, get down to a much smaller level of forces facing each other and have those forces be relatively equal, and then we can talk about what to do on the nuclear side. Although I would always want to keep some kind of deterrence of war, and to me that means some nuclear weapons. Plus I just don’t think nuclear weapons are going to disappear. I notice that the Soviet Union doesn’t think so either. Most of the comments that have come from military strategists, and even the new intellectual strategists in the Soviet Union (not to differentiate between military and intellectual) have indicated that they feel some number of nuclear weapons probably do keep the peace. I’d say let’s negotiate on the conventional side, let’s make some more reductions of the nuclear weapons because the Soviets have reduced on their side the things that we fear, we can reduce on our side the things that fear. But let’s not go farther than that until we solve the problems of the conventional imbalance.
Q. There has been some speculation that in the next 10 years there will be some reductions of U.S. forces. What are your thoughts?
General Galvin: I think it is possible that we would se that. I hope that if we see that reduction it would come about as part of arms control negotiations and not through unilateral reduction on the part of the Americans. I’ve said that over and over. The Americans have only four divisions in Western Europe. The Soviets, by the way, have 19 divisions and several brigades in Eastern Europe. So that is not a very large force. If the U.S. reduces, I don’t think that the other NATO nations will say:
»Well, the U.S. is gone so we’l have to make up for this, and we’ll increase«. They wül say: »The U.S. has gone intelligence effort and the U.S. must know that it is all right to reduce, and so we can also«. I think that’s what would happen. I don’t think that’s a good idea to do unilaterally. I do think that defense and deterrence with a minimum military forces. I firmly believe that. But I think it has to make sense also, because we have to look at the other side. You are governed in the size of your defense by the other side. If we do, by the way, get down to some level of parity, then can we afford to reduce forces more. The answer to that lies in your view of the strategy. Right now there are 22 divisions forward stationed along the Central Front. In other words, from the Baltic to Austria. That is about 1.000 kilometers. Can you reduce from 22 divisions to 20, 18, 15? What happens is that as you reduce the numbers, the terrain begins to become more and more important. And so, if you had to defend with less, you would have to go to a mobile defense. In other words, a stronger covering force, a stronger reserve, and that doesn’t leave you very much at all for the front line - the forward edge of the battle area. You would have to then fight a defense based on the use of broad expanses of terrain. Are we ready to go to that kind of defense? I don’t know. I don’t rule that out. I think, first, we go to parity. Then we ought to look again at the theater nuclear forces in Western Europe on both sides, then we ought to look at what further reductions we could make and under what strategies would we be willing to live as an Alliance. I really don’t see the Alliance going away, because I think that security will still be very, very important to every nation. And they will seek that security in a collective way. But I do think that there may be room for reductions, but not now. This is what I will be saying to the U.S. Congress later this month and next month: »For goodness sake, don’t reduce forces just as your going into negotiations. Let’s wait and see what the Soviets are willing to do«. I keep saying the Soviets, but it is the Warsaw Pact, because unlike our side, I think the Warsaw Pact will do whatever the Soviets do. We should not reduce now.