Rumsfeld makes the case for military transformation

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Thursday called on service members and Defense civilians to think like venture capitalists and help transform the U.S. military into a more agile force for the 21st century.

"A revolution in military affairs is more than about building new high-tech weapons," Rumsfeld said in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington. "It is also about new ways of thinking and new ways of fighting."

Next week, the Bush administration will send Congress its fiscal 2003 budget, which will call for a $48 billion increase in defense spending, the largest boost since the 1980s. Rumsfeld's speech, in part, was meant to make a case for the sharp hike in spending.

In recent years, "our priorities were wrong and we did not buy enough," said Rumsfeld. Specifically, he said, the Pentagon does not have enough unmanned aerial vehicles, command and control aircraft, air defense capabilities, chemical and biological defense units and certain types of special operations forces.

Rumsfeld said the U.S. military should not plan for specific threats as it did during the Cold War, but must have forces and capabilities that can respond to new and unexpected challenges-including terrorist attacks "vastly more deadly" than those of Sept. 11.

Rumsfeld repeatedly drew on history in making his case for change. For example, he said the German blitzkrieg during World War II was highly effective because it went beyond the idea of simply using massed armies to combine smaller, more mobile quick strike forces with air support. In the recent war in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld noted, U.S. forces were most effective when they seamlessly linked ground and air operations to launch precision air strikes.

Rumsfeld outlined the military's six transformation goals: protecting the U.S. homeland and overseas bases, projecting and sustaining U.S. military power, denying enemies sanctuary, protecting information systems from attacks, using information to seamlessly tie U.S. forces together and protecting existing U.S. space assets.

Additionally, Rumsfeld offered several lessons the department has already learned from the war on terrorism, including the following:

  • The United States should use financial and diplomatic pressure, not just the military, to wage war.
  • Coalitions should be created to fight wars rather than decide what wars will be fought.
  • The only defense against terrorism may be a strong offense.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.