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Wolfowitz: 'Fight Today, Invest for Tomorrow'

Wolfowitz: 'Fight Today, Invest for Tomorrow'

By Linda D. Kozaryn, American Forces Press Service.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) April 10, 2002 -- Computers, instant communications and global networking can transform the U.S. military just as they have the commercial world, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told Congress April 9.

Over the next five years, defense officials plan to invest more than $136 billion in transformational technologies and systems, Wolfowitz told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee here. He stressed investment is only part of the transformation plan.

"Transformation is about changing the military culture into one that encourages innovation and intelligent risk taking," he said. "Transformation can mean using old things in new ways -- a natural result of creative innovation."

In Afghanistan, for example, special forces on the ground took 19th century horse cavalry, combined it with 50-year-old B-52 bombers and used modern satellite communications to produce a 21st century capability, he said.

America's young noncommissioned officers in Afghanistan routinely integrate multiple intelligence-collection platforms, he noted, and they do it "by simultaneously coordinating what amounts to several chat rooms." Military leaders have seen these NCOs improvise with new military applications that are like the technology they have grown up with, he added.

"They display an agility with that technology that comes from being completely comfortable with this new way of doing things," Wolfowitz said. The agility needed to meet threats at home and abroad depends on more than just technology, he added. "It is tied also to changing our organizational designs and embracing new concepts."

The ability to conduct night operations is another example of cultural change under way in the military, according to the deputy.

"Drawing from our experience in Vietnam, we worked to acquire technology such as night-vision goggles that allowed us to virtually turn night into day," he said. "We now conduct extensive night training operations, and we have turned what was once a vulnerability into an advantage. Today, it is not hyperbole to say, 'We own the night.'"

There has also been a cultural change in the way forces are deployed, Wolfowitz noted. "Historically, special operations forces have operated separately from conventional forces, but this campaign has necessitated their close integration with conventional forces, and especially air forces.

"One of the results is an order of magnitude change in how precise we are in finding and hitting targets from just a decade ago," he continued. "That is not only changing the culture of special operations forces, but it's changing how the rest of the force thinks about special operations and how it thinks about the integration between air and ground power."

Capabilities demonstrated in Afghanistan show how far the military has come in the 10 years since the Persian Gulf War, but they also show how far there still is to go, Wolfowitz said. DoD's goal "is to encourage a series of transformations that in combination can produce a revolutionary increase in our military capability and redefine how war is fought."

He said the Quadrennial Defense Review outlined the way ahead and identified six transformation goals:

  • To defend the U.S. homeland and other bases of operation and defeat nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their means of delivery.
  • To deny enemies sanctuary, depriving them of the ability to run or hide, anytime, anywhere.
  • To project and sustain forces in distant theaters in the face of access denial threats.
  • To conduct effective operations in space.
  • To conduct effective information operations.
  • To leverage information technology to give U.S. joint forces a common operational picture.

"U.S. ground forces will be lighter, more lethal, more highly mobile. They will be capable of insertion far from traditional ports and air bases," he said. "Naval and amphibious forces will be able to assure U.S. access even in area-denial environments. The air and space forces will be able to locate and track mobile targets over vast areas and strike them rapidly at long ranges without warning."

A year ago, Wolfowitz pointed out, people might have asked why defense leaders continued investing in improving America's already substantial military advantage. "Some were even asking, 'Who will fight us now?' But Sept. 11 brought home the fact that while it is likely few would seek to meet us head to head, they can still attack us, they can still threaten us."

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked America using box cutters and jetliners. "Our response, as we seek to deny future terrorists avenues to similar attack, has been and must be disproportionately asymmetrical," the deputy said. "And it does not come cheaply or without great effort at innovation."

The military must win the global war on terrorism and, at the same time, prepare U.S. forces for the future, he stressed. "We cannot wait for another Pearl Harbor or another Sept. 11, either on the ground, in space or in cyberspace," he said. "Even as we fight the war of today, we must invest in tomorrow."

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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).