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Wolfowitz: Military 'Has Come a Long Way' Since Gulf War

Wolfowitz: Military 'Has Come a Long Way' Since Gulf War

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) April 4, 2002 -- Quadrennial Defense Review stratagems that emphasize change are helping the U.S. military and its allies to win the war against global terrorism, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told national security students April 1.

Speaking to colonels and senior civilians attending the National Security Studies Management Program at Syracuse University, N.Y., Wolfowitz said the U.S. military is transforming itself to meet 21st century threats, including asymmetrical warfare favored by terrorists.

He said the best defense against terrorists is a persistent offense, as President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have often maintained. That's why, Wolfowitz noted, American troops were deployed to Afghanistan to destroy the al Qaeda terrorist network there.

Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz noted, "wants our people to know that we need to be leaning forward and not leaning back. Indeed, I think his belief, and I share it, is that we will have fewer casualties in the long run, both to our military and most importantly to our country, if our enemies believe that the result of attacking us is that we attack back, not that we retreat."

Precision laser-guided munitions, remote-controlled reconnaissance drones and special operations troops –- including air combat controllers on horseback using Global Positioning System devices to direct air strikes -- are examples of melding technology with "outside the box" thinking that have helped to achieve success against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Wolfowitz noted.

"Indeed in Afghanistan, we have literally seen 19th century horse cavalry combined with 50-year-old B-52 bombers," he said, "and, through the use of modern communications become a truly 21st century capability."

Military change need not be all encompassing to be successful, Wolfowitz noted, pointing to the Germans' June 1940 "Blitzkrieg," when air power and fast-moving armor forces combined to conquer France in a month.

At that time only about 15 percent of the German army was composed of modern mechanized forces, Wolfowitz remarked. "But it was that 10 or 15 percent that made the decisive difference in allowing the rest of the army to triumph so quickly," he said.

Changing only a small percentage of the U.S. military, Wolfowitz explained, "is enough to produce a revolution, as the Germans demonstrated."

The U.S. military has come a long way in the decade since its victory in the Persian Gulf War, Wolfowitz remarked. To illustrate, he drew a comparison between 1990-91 operations in the Persian Gulf and today in Afghanistan.

"During the Gulf War 10 years ago, we flew a lot of airplanes over western Iraq trying to stop the Scuds, but they weren't able to destroy them," Wolfowitz noted. The result, he added, was one decoy Scud launcher destroyed and no real ones.

In the Gulf War "some 3 percent of the munitions we dropped were precision-guided," Wolfowitz said. In Kosovo, "it went up to 33 percent," he added.

In Afghanistan, up to 60 percent of the munitions airdropped by U.S. forces were precision-guided, Wolfowitz noted. U.S. forces "have been able to combine long-range precision strike with long-range precision forces on the ground" in Afghanistan, he said.

"And, we achieved a truly transformational result," he added, noting that joint operations have played a key role in Afghanistan.

Wolfowitz read a passage from a Special Forces' dispatch from Afghanistan, where an Army member praises his people and those of the U.S. Navy and Air Force:

"The U.S. Navy and Air Force did a great job. I am very proud of my men who performed exceptionally well under extreme conditions. I have personally witnessed heroism under fire by two U.S. noncommissioned officers -- one Army, one Air Force -- when we came under direct artillery fire last night less than 50 meters away.

"When I ordered them to call close air support they did so immediately without flinching, even though they were under fire."

Wolfowitz noted that the report was indicative that "truly uncommon valor has been a common virtue" of U.S. service members' performance in Afghanistan. However, he cautioned that although there have been some successes, the war against global terrorism is far from over.

"It's not just about one man, it's not just about al Qaeda, and it's not just about Afghanistan," he explained. "It's about the whole network of international terrorist networks and the bases and countries from which they receive support."

The war against global terrorism is unique in that it's more subtle and complex than a conventional war, Wolfowitz said.

Quoting the president, Wolfowitz remarked: "We have to use every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war to the destruction and defeat of the global terror network."

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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).