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Decisions Made Today Will Give Edge to Tomorrow's Force

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2005 – Decisions being made today about how troops are recruited, equipped, trained and stationed will have far-reaching implications during future operations, the Marine Corps commandant said here today.

The future battlefield is likely to be much like today's -- uncertain, chaotic and full of fog -- so it's critical that the military continue to recruit and retain smart men and women and train them to operate in such an environment, Marine Gen. Michael Hagee told reporters at the National Press Club.

Tomorrow's military members, like today's, will need to be able to think quickly on their feet, often making decisions with less information than they'd like, he said. And that applies regardless of the type of operation they're conducting, from high-end combat operations to humanitarian- and disaster-relief operations.

If history is any guide, the military will again he called to fight a future conflict, Hagee said. And just as certain, the military will be called to respond to humanitarian crises, including tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes like those witnessed around the world during the past 10 months alone, he said.

Decisions in shaping the force for the future will be guided by findings of the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, which will look 10, 15 and more years into the future, Hagee said.

Predicting the future is no easy task, he acknowledged. "We're doing everything we can to get it right or not get it wrong as we design the force of the future," he said.

That means recruiting the best troops possible, continuing to provide them the equipment they need, and replacing it as needed when it's seen heavy use, such as in Iraq, "so it's ready to go for the next contingency," he said.

It also means positioning troops where they can operate most effectively and giving them the capabilities to deploy quickly to hot spots when they're needed, Hagee said.

At the same time, it requires giving troops the education and training they need to perform on a battlefield that requires quick thinking and good decision making, he said.

Hagee cited the success of this formula during the battle of Fallujah, Iraq, where, he said, Marines "absolutely crushed the insurgency" last year.

"There's still a great deal to do," he said of operations in Iraq. "It's still very hard, and it is still quite dangerous over there."

Improvised explosive devices continue to be the biggest challenges troops in Iraq face, he said. But with many of these weapons becoming increasingly complex, Hagee said, they're no longer improvised at all. "Some are very sophisticated," he said.

No one technology or solution is likely to counter the IED threat, Hagee said, noting that weapons like these will probably remain the insurgents' weapons of choice. "No one out there is willing to take us on one on one or even squad to squad," he said. "If they do, they know they will lose."

That military superiority will remain critical to the military of tomorrow as its members face new threats and missions, Hagee said.

As they prepare for the future, Hagee said, the Marines will retain the fighting edge that's been their trademark for the past 230 years. "The most dangerous weapon on any battlefield is a United States Marine. There is no doubt about that," he said.

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Gen. Michael Hagee, USMC

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