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.
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