A superior national defense is the fundamental condition for a secure America and for peace and freedom for the world. Military strength is the path to peace. A sound foreign policy must be rooted in a superior defense capability, and both must be perceived as a deterrent to aggression and supportive of our national interests.
The American people expect that their leaders will assure a national defense posture second to none. They know that planning for our national security must be a joint effort by the President and Congress. It cannot be the subject of partisan disputes. It should not be held hostage to domestic political adventurism.
A minimum guarantee to preserve freedom and insure against blackmail and threats, and in the face of growing Soviet military power, requires a period of sustained growth in our defense effort. In constant dollars, the present defense budget will no more than match the defense budget of 1964, the year before a Democrat Administration involved America so deeply in the Vietnam War. In 1975 Soviet defense programs exceeded ours in investment by 85 percent, exceeded ours in operating costs by 25 percent, and exceeded ours in research and development by 66 percent. The issue is whether our forces will be adequate to future challenges. We say they must be.
We must always achieve maximum value for each defense dollar spent. Along with the elimination of the draft and the creation, under a Republican President, of all-volunteer armed services, we have reduced the personnel requirements for support functions without affecting our basic posture. Today there are fewer Americans in the uniformed services than at any time since the fall of 1950. Substantial economies have been made in weapons procurement and we will continue to act in a prudent manner with our defense appropriations.
Our national defense effort will include the continuation of the major modernization program for our strategic missile and bomber forces, the development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a new missile-launching submarine force and a modern bomber -- the B-1 -- capable of penetrating the most sophisticated air defenses of the 1980's. These elements will comprise a deterrent of the first order.
We will increase our army to 16 divisions, reinforce our program of producing new tanks and other armored vehicles, and support the development of new, highly accurate precision weapons.
Our Navy, the guarantor of freedom of the seas, must have a major shipbuilding program, with an adequate balance between nuclear and non-nuclear ships. The composition of the fleet must be based on a realistic assessment of the threat we face, and must assure that no adversary will gain naval superiority.
An important modernization program for our tactical air forces is under way. We will require new fighters and interceptor aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. As a necessary component of our long-range strategy, we will produce and deploy the B-1 bomber in a timely manner, allowing us to retain air superiority.
Consistent with our total force policy, we will maintain strong reserve components.
Our investments in military research and development are of great importance to our future defense capabilities. We must not lose the vital momentum.
With increasing complexity of weapons, lead times for weapons systems are often as long as a decade, requiring careful planning and prudent financial decisions. An outstanding example of this process is the development and deployment of the cruise missile, which incorporates pinpoint precision by means of sophisticated guidance systems and is an exceptionally economical weapon to produce.
Security assistance programs are important to our allies and we will continue to strengthen their efforts at self-defense. The improvement of their capabilities can help to ensure that the world balance is not tipped against us and can also serve to lessen chances for direct U.S. involvement in remote conflicts.
As a vital component of our overall national security posture, the United States must have the best intelligence system in the world. The effectiveness of the intelligence community must be restored, consonant with the reforms instituted by President Ford. We favor the creation of an independent oversight function by Congress and we will withstand partisan efforts to turn any part of our intelligence system into a political football. We will take every precaution to prevent the breakdown of security controls on sensitive intelligence information, endangering the lives of United States officials abroad, or affecting the ability of the President to act expeditiously whenever legitimate foreign policy and defense needs require it.
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