"You should cut further, and I think Congress will go further in making reductions in defense," Chairman Joseph P. Addabbo (D-N.Y.) of the House defense appropriations subcommittee told Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger yesterday.
Weinberger, in several gentle clashes with Addabbo at a subcommittee hearing on the administration's revamped military program, responded that Pentagon spending could not be cut safely beyond the $13 billion President Reagan has recommended for fiscal 1982 through 1984.
That will require reducing budget authority for those three years by $25 billion to $30 billion, he added.
Addabbo charged that, in making many of their cuts, defense officials chose "places where Congress had a deep and abiding interest" and therefore would insist on full funding. Weinberger denied that this was a driving consideration, declaring that the recommended cuts represent "our best professional and lay judgment."
Defending specific cuts in the fiscal 1982 defense budget, Weinberger said the main reason for deleting the French-German Roland antiaircraft missile was that its cost is estimated at $3.3 billion instead of the originally estimated $1.1 billion.
"Cancellation will have an unfortunate effect on our allies," said Weinberger.
Addabbo complained that cancelling the Roland also means that the $1.3 billion already invested "now goes down the drain."
Another economy move criticized by subcommittee members yesterday was the administration plan to reduce the 7th Infantry Division from 15,000 troops to 5,000. Weinberger said the division is the "least ready" to fight, promising it would be returned to full strength later in the decade.
Rep. Jack Edwards of Alabama, ranking Republican on the subcommittee, expressed concern that the administration recommendation to cancel the McDonnell Douglas KC10 high speed aerial tanker would undercut the effort to move forces quickly to distant trouble spots.
Weinberger replied that existing KC135 tankers, which will receive new engines at a slower rate than previously planned because of another economy move, will fill the gap left by the KC10. The Air Force made the recommendation, he said.
Weinberger said the administration still plans to bring four New Jersey class battleships out of mothballs but has bowed to congressional opposition and shelved the idea of reactivating the aircraft carrier Oriskany.
Discussing the planned stretch-out in production of Air Force F15 fighters, Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the subcommittee "the real impact will be delay in modernization of the air defense force," the planes assigned to protect the continental United States from invading bombers.