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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


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