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Capabilities, Strategy Must Converge to Face New Threats

Capabilities, Strategy Must Converge to Face New Threats

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) June 22, 2001 -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress the way U.S. armed forces are configured must change to deal with the new threats of the 21st century.

Rumsfeld said the current defense strategy is not working, and the on-going Quadrennial Defense Review will present strategic options for President Bush and other decision makers. The Bush Administration will use results of the QDR as the basis of the fiscal 2003 Defense Budget.

Until then, however, DoD will continue to follow the "shape, prepare, respond" defense strategy that has been in place since the last revision of the U.S. National Security Strategy in 1995. DoD will also continue to structure forces based on the force-sizing construct of being prepared to fight two near-simultaneous major theater wars.

"I am a careful person and believe you don't replace what is until you have something better - and we do not yet know whether the force construct the QDR will examine will be better," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld, who testified before the both the Senate and House armed services committees June 21, said that reliance on the two major theater war concept is causing risks.

"Because we have under funded and overused our forces, we find we are short a division, we are short airlift," he said. "We have been under funding aging infrastructure and facilities. We are short high-demand, low-density assets. The aircraft fleet is aging and the cost to maintain it is growing. The Navy is declining and we are steadily falling below acceptable readiness standards."

Rumsfeld flatly told Congress that the United States "skimped" on service members. He said this under investment in service members is "doing harm to their trust and confidence, as well as to the stability of our force. ... We cannot continue to skimp on our people if we are to have a first-class force for the 21st Century."

The United States has also under invested in "future risks." Rumsfeld said the American military would change because the threats have changed, but the United States cannot focus on one enemy or threat to the exclusion of all others. To do that would be shortsighted and human track records in forecasting the future have not been particularly effective, he said. "But while it is difficult to know who will threaten, or where, or when in the coming decades, it is less difficult to anticipate how we will be threatened."

He said the United States is vulnerable to terrorism, cyberattack, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them and the proliferation of advanced convention arms.

Rogue states are particularly dangerous not only because

the weapons have grown so powerful, but also there are no checks and balances to stop leaders of these states from using the weapons. "But we must remind ourselves that these weapons do not have to be used to alter behavior," he said.

"The regimes seeking ballistic missiles and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons see them not only as weapons to use in war," he said, "but as tools of coercion - means by which they can intimidate their neighbors and prevent others from projecting force to defend against aggression."

So, while whom the United States fights may be clouded, the capabilities needed are not. Topping Rumsfeld's list of defense capabilities is people. "No matter how advanced we become technologically, people will always be the backbone of our defense," he said. "Smart weapons require smart soldiers."

He proposes to continue or increase experimentation to create and test new ways of manning units, structuring them and commanding them. Intelligence capabilities will be crucial no matter what the threat.

Other capabilities the United States needs are missile defense, space, information operations, precision strike, unmanned systems, Joint command and control information systems and rapidly deployable joint forces.

These capabilities, Rumsfeld said, tied with a new strategy, would meet four defense goals. The "shape, prepare, respond" strategy could possibly be replaced by an "assure, dissuade, deter, defend/defeat" strategy.

These capabilities would "assure" allies and friends that the United States can respond to unexpected or new threats.

They would "dissuade" potential adversaries from developing threatening capabilities. They would "deter" potential adversaries from hostile acts and counter blackmail against U.S. allies.

Finally, should deterrence and dissuasion fail, they would "defend" the United States and its allies and decisively "defeat" an enemy "at the time, place and manner of our choosing."

Rumsfeld said that change is difficult and DoD is a huge bureaucracy that cannot change course quickly. Today, the United States is strong and faces no immediate threat. "But the greatest threat to our position today is complacency," he said.

"We need the humility to recognize that, while America has capabilities, we are not invulnerable - and our current situation is not a permanent condition. If we don't act now, new threats will emerge to surprise us, as they have so often in the past. The difference today is that weapons are vastly more powerful."


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).