Rumsfeld Discusses Progress, Future Needs at Budget Hearing
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2005 The Defense Department has come a long way, but it has much farther to go, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee here today during a budget hearing.
"Today, weapon platforms are more lethal and precise, but not yet flexible enough; force deployments are faster, but not yet fast enough; the Pentagon bureaucracy is more efficient, but not yet efficient enough," Rumsfeld told the representatives during his presentation on the fiscal 2006 defense budget request.
The secretary said the department's most important priorities remain to prosecute the war and attack the terrorists' ideological underpinnings.
Rumsfeld looked back before he discussed the future, reminding the committee of the progress made over the past four years. He said Afghanistan and Iraq are free of the grasp of tyrants and that people of both nations recently held historic elections. "And extremists are under pressure worldwide, their false promises slowly being exposed as another cruel lie of history," he said.
The secretary said the American military is transforming to develop the capabilities needed to address the unknown threats of the future, and the NATO alliance is reforming also, as it plays a greater role on the world stage. And some 60 nations are working to halt the spread of the weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said.
The secretary said the department is striving to meet many challenges. One is unique to this day and time: the need to "recognize we are engaged in a war and yet still functioning under peacetime constraints, regulations and requirements, against an enemy unconstrained by laws or bureaucracies."
One change is to make the military more agile. "When a department official says 'agile,' some people seem to think it means 'smaller.' It does not," he said. "It is the shape of the forces, not the size, that it refers to. And that is the impetus for making the needed changes."
DoD is dedicating more than $35 billion over the next seven years in addition to $13 billion in the Army's baseline budget as part of that effort. This will allow the Army to increase its deployable combat power significantly, the secretary said. The active duty Army alone will expand from 33 maneuver brigades to 43 considerably more powerful brigade combat teams. "These teams will deploy quickly to trouble spots and have enough firepower, armor and logistics to sustain operations over time," Rumsfeld said.
The Navy also is changing. Potential foes have fleets that are regional and not international, Rumsfeld said. "The new challenge is to project naval power more quickly to confront unexpected threats," he said. "The Navy is developing the joint sea-basing concept to allow joint expeditionary strike forces to project power quickly from floating platforms without being dependent on land bases."
Technology also has helped the military. In 1997, he said, aircraft from a carrier could engage about 200 targets per day. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, that number rose to more than 600. A B-2 bomber now can attack as many as 80 different targets during one sortie.
In addition, DoD has looked at the global U.S. military posture for the first time since the end of the Cold War. "We advanced the common sense but then novel notion that our troops should be where they are needed, where they are wanted, and where they would be the most usable," Rumsfeld said. Now plans call for more than 70,000 U.S. servicemembers and 100,000 family members to return to the United States.
The change will have the added benefit of having servicemembers at stateside bases for longer periods of time. They will also deploy overseas for shorter periods, he said.
Making the Pentagon more efficient is imperative, too, Rumsfeld said. "Inefficiency is always unfortunate, but in the Department of Defense, however, it can be deadly," he said. "An idea ignored may be the next threat overlooked. And a person doing a redundant task is a person not contributing to our defense."
Rumsfeld discussed ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the United States will help both countries as they transition to democracies. He said America must invest in the security forces of the nations, because Iraqis and Afghans must be responsible for their own countries.