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SOVIET MILITARY BECOMING EMPTY THREAT, DEMOS SAY

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House Democrats, trying to bolster their plea for cuts in defense spending, said Friday that Soviet military strength is declining irreversibly and "becoming an empty threat."

But the 15 Republicans on a special panel of the House Armed Services Committee immediately rejected the Defense Policy Panel report as overly optimistic."Endorsing this report is tantamount to believing that the Soviet Union is already militarily impotent and not a global power to be reckoned with. Such a view is more wishful thinking than a reflection of reality," said Rep. William Dickinson of Alabama, ranking Republican on the committee.

The GOP members, in a dissenting opinion included in the 310-page report, cited the absence of a U.S.-Soviet treaty to scale back conventional forces in Europe, the unclear future of a unified Germany and the economic and political instability in Eastern Europe.

"We believe that the House defense spending figure, which in percentage terms cuts defense spending three times more than the president's budget does, is imprudent," the GOP members said.

The 17 Democrats on the panel, largely summing up testimony before the Armed Services Committee during the past year, concluded that the Soviet conventional threat to the United States and NATO is "greatly diminished and cannot be revived."

Based on that assessment, reductions in defense spending are in order, the Democrats said.