Defense Secretary Caspar W. Winberger's new marching orders to the armed services call for a military buildup far beyond the big one alrady revealed.
Weinberger's consolidated "guidance" -- a set of broad strategic instructions -- for the upcoming five fiscal years envisions some 200,000 more soldiers, sailors and airmen, millions in special breaks for the military-industrial complex, and a stepped-up research program, including developing weapons needed to fight in space.
Army leaders are prepared to tell Congress that they do not see how they can recruit the soldiers needed under the five-year plan without at least draftying men to fill reserve units, currently 190,000 short.
The Pentagon, General Accounting Office and defense executives all agree that the military-industrial complex today could not deliver in time the weapons for the kind of long war Weinberger wants the services to prepare for.
Compared to the 8 percent of the nation's gross national product that went into the Vietnam war and the 15 percent that the Korean war absorbed, Weinberger asks the services to see what it would take to gear-up industry to absorb half the GNP in the event of war.
This year's GNP is about $2.94 trillion, meaning that after the declaration of an emergency Weinberger would like to have a defense industry that could absorb a military budget of about $1.5 trillion for just one year. This year's record-high peacetime budget is $222 billion.
Short of a national emergency, Weinberger asked for an assessment of the problems that "lie in the way of doubling or tripling the defense budget in a crisis or major shift in the world situation."
The GAO said today's industrial base is in such bad shape that it "may mean that the United States can only fight a short war. . . . Huge gaps exist between when military stocks will be exhausted and when production will equal needs."
Weinberger wants a red-hot industrial base turning out tons of ammunition and thousands of weapons within two to three years after the declaration of an emergency.
For this to happen, the government would have to spend billions in advance of an emergency to buy up and stockpile such critical metals as chromium, cobalt and titanium needed in modern weapons.
Also, defense industries would have to be prodded into modernizing their factories through faster depreciation allowance and other incentives, costing the treasury additional billions.
On top of buying new generations of weaponry for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps while preparing the industrial base to accept an emergency surge of orders, Weinberger has directed the services to keep spending money on experimental weaponry, such as flying umbrellas for knocking out satellites in space, so the Soviets do not steal a march there.
U.S. satellites that look down on Russia, help guide U.S. missiles and tell an infantryman exactly where he is on the ground must be protected from Soviet space weapons, under the Weinberger mandate.
"We must protect our free access to and use of outer space," says one draft of the guidance in stating the philosphical underpinning for instructions that showed up in the final version. Satellites supporting strategic forces "should be capable of surviving the effects of nuclear detonations and of countering antisatellite attacks," a tall order for the Pentagon's specialists in space warfare.
Whether the military services get all the money they would need to carry out Weinberger's guidance is an open question. Already a number of administration officials trying to balance the federal budget by fiscal 1984 are quailing under the load of Pentagon bills piling up for fiscal 1983 and beyond. Cuts will be attempted.
There are other big questions hanging over the Weinberger's new guidance, such as whether U.S. allies will go along with and contribute to the Reagan administration's expressed intent in a confrontation to push the Soviets in distant outposts where they are vulnerable, not just at the point of confrontation.
If deterrence fails and a long conventional war with the Soviets should break out, the guidance indicates that the administration is counting on NATO allies to help out in the Persian Gulf, for Japan to help deny the straits of the Sea of Japan to the Soviet navy and for China to take enough aggressive action to freeze the Soviet troops deployed on its border.
Like the assumption that the flow of money into the Pentagon will continue unabated, those foreign policy underpinnings are subject to change without notice.
The thrust of the Weinberger guidance dramatizes that he agrees with Secretary of Alexander M. Haig Jr.'s recent statement that U.S. rearmament must take precedence over arms control. Draft language not embodied in the final guidance showed how many on the new team at the Pentagon regard that proposition:
"Our first priority must be to formulate and implement our defense program so as to redress the current imbalance. Consequently, our arms control policy should be framed to support the defense program rather than letting arms control considerations drive our military program."