Designing Our General Purpose Forces

Our major effort over the past year has been to develop a military posture consistent with these strategic guidelines and adequate to protect our overseas interests.

Europe. During 1970 the NATO Alliance concentrated on thorough review of its defense posture. The central question was what strategy and mix of conventional and theater nuclear forces was best suited to the defense of the alliance when both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. have the capabilities for mutual nuclear devastation. The review reflected the fact that Europe is moving through a time of change, and that the relationship of NATO and Warsaw Pact military forces can have a significant effect on the outcome of political negotiations.

Thus we had to consider carefully not only the forces already deployed in Europe, but the capabilities the NATO Alliance maintains for rapid mobilization and reinforcement, and the probabilities of receiving early warning. The commitment of our own strategic forces to the alliance deterrent, of course, was not in question.

For our part we reviewed the contribution of United States ground, air and naval forces. Together with our allies we concluded that:

We should not decrease our present forces, nor should any other ally.

The basic alliance strategy would require maximum flexibility to deal with the full range of possible attack.

A realistic deterrent against conventional attacks required a substantial conventional forward defense capability.

Important qualitative improvements would have to be made by all allies to offset the continuing improvements by the Warsaw Pact.

Asia. The situation in Asia differs significantly from that in Europe. The People's Republic of China has substantial military forces. But those forces pose a more limited and less immediate threat in Asia than do the forces of the Soviet Union in Europe. Chinese nuclear capabilities are still in an early stage of development. At the same time our allies in Asia have not yet fully developed their own defense capabilities.

Taking account of these facts, we have reviewed general purpose force requirements in Asia. Our review indicates that we can meet our collective security objectives while placing greater reliance on our allies for their own defense. The growing strength of our allies has already resulted in a reduction of the level of our general purpose forces stationed in the region.

In All Areas.The primary role of our general purpose forces is to deter and, if necessary, cope with external aggression. If aggression occurs, the use of our forces will be determined by our interests, the needs of our allies and their defense capabilities, which we are seeking to improve. It is clear, however, that the Soviet Union's strong and balanced conventional capability enables it to project its military power to areas heretofore beyond its reach. This requires us to maintain balanced and mobile ground, sea and air forces capable of meeting challenges to our worldwide interests.

This may impose new requirements and new burdens in the coming decade. We would prefer that rivalry with the U.S.S.R. be contained through self-restraint, mutual respect for interests and specific agreements. But I am determined that our general military posture will remain as strong as the international situation dictates.