Members of a Senate defense subcommittee, whose chairman has already threatened to introduce legislation requiring withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Europe, yesterday also hammered away at the Japanese for failure to pay what one senator called "their fair share" of the costs of common defense.
Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) said there was "rising discontent over Japan's failure to meet its commitments" in defense and that Tokyo was "rubbing salt in the wound" by its successful competition with U.S. manufacturers in world markets, success that Rudman said was aided by its low spending on defense.
Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, a Louisiana Democrat, added that "a very strong feeling pervades Congress" now on this issue and "is about to be ignited."
These warnings came as the subcommittee questioned Deputy Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci on global U.S. defense commitments.
Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who joined in the complaints over Japan's low defense spending, also protested to Carlucci that American support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization "is increasing while our allies' contribution to their own defense is dwindling." Stevens claimed that since 1975 the United States had increased its troops in Europe by 58,000 while the NATO allies have reduced their forces by 56,000.
Carlucci disputed that figure, stating that between 1974 and 1981 U.S. strength in Europe increased by 35,000 persons and that these were meant to improve American forces and not to replace Europeans.
Stevens, who has been especially critical of West European cooperation with Moscow in a huge gas pipeline deal, threatened last month to introduce legislation to reduce the 337,000 U.S. troops in Europe. Yesterday, he carried this further, saying, "I intend to make an attempt to reduce the cost of operations in Europe this year" rather than take the approach of many others in Congress who talk about cutting specific new weapons systems as a way of reducing defense costs.
Stevens said he'd rather have the new aircraft carriers, tanks and aircraft that the Pentagon wants "for this country rather than increase U.S. defense forces in Europe, Japan the Persian Gulf or anywhere else."
Carlucci argued that while the administration wanted all the allies to do more and also was not happy about the pipeline, it would be a grave mistake to pull out of Europe or Asia because the United States was there to defend American interests. "We don't want to fight on our own shores," he said.
The Pentagon's second-in-command pointed out that for the past decade, the NATO allies had a better record on real defense spending increases than did the United States. He asked Stevens that if, in calculating the savings by bringing home troops from abroad, the senator also wanted to calculate the cost of building new facilities in this country to house them and in buying even more ships and transport planes to take them back overseas in an emergency.
On Japan, Carlucci argued that while Tokyo still spends less than 1 percent of its gross national product on defense, compared to about 6 percent in this country, Tokyo has recently increased its annual defense budget by 7.8 percent. He also said that Japan spends more on support of U.S. forces in their country than any other ally, and that progress was being made in nudging the Japanese to take a greater role in their own defense.