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Security Will Not Wait

Courtesy Reuters

IN the recent Presidential election, national defense per se did not become a major campaign issue. Both candidates expressed confidence in our present military strength but recognized the probability that larger military expenditures would be required in the future. The issue was also present in the background of many debates on foreign policy and was very much a part of questions asked about the state of our world-wide prestige.

Mr. Kennedy, the President-elect, was particularly explicit in stating his belief that Soviet military power is growing faster than our own. He has also recognized the importance of balanced strength capable of coping with any form of military threat. He has indicated something less than confidence in our defense organization and has shown an intention to initiate substantial changes, including a reorientation of strategy.

As one who has long urged a reappraisal of military policy and strategy, I can only applaud this intention of the new Administration to come to grips with the many fundamental problems involved in strengthening our national defense. I have one important reservation, however, and that has to do with the time factor. Having lived through some of the defense reorganizations of the past--all of them far less comprehensive than the next one should be--I would expect that the most competent minds in the Government will feel the need for months and even years of planning and work to bring about all the necessary changes.

Even if the new policy-makers are imbued with the utmost sense of urgency, they are certain to find many cogent reasons for proceeding slowly before taking important decisions. Quite properly, they will want to be sure of their facts; the Pentagon briefings will be many. They will soon discover--if they do not already know--the defects in our strategy-making machinery in the National Security Council and the Department of Defense and may decide to improve the machine before asking it to produce. They may want to return to fundamentals and establish national aims before

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