From remarks Nov. 9 by Fred Ikle', undersecretary of defense for policy, to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers: In 1963, when the atmospheric test ban was ratified, Congress mandated that the Pentagon be ready to respond in the event of violation. When the naval agreements of the 1920s broke down, the United States began to rebuild its naval forces in 1938. . . .

But the end of an arms control regime is only one of several contingencies to which we might have to respond with industrial mobilization. In this century, in nearly every major international crisis, Congress agreed with the president to step up defense production. This has been true from the outbreak of World War I to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. A particularly dramatic response occurred in 1950: after the North Korean attack, Congress decided to triple our defense budget. Yet, at that time it took the Pentagon nearly a year to figure out what to do about the congressionally mandated production surge. . . .

We need highly ready strategic forces to deter nuclear attack; we need ready, forward deployed troops to deter conventional attack. Preparation for industrial mobilization is no substitute for such peacetime strength and readiness. . . .

Yet, nearly every war in this century . . . was preceded by years of a growing crisis or, at least, was not decided in the first campaign. Hence, industrial mobilization -- if launched soon enough -- could make a big difference.

Early in the first Reagan administration, Secretary Weinberger therefore decided that the Defense Department had to improve its preparations for a production surge. We have since worked this issue quietly and tested our progress in several exercises.