Fewer Numbers Don't Mean Less Capability, Rumsfeld Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
SINGAPORE, Jun. 3, 2004 As changes in the U.S. military's global posture take place, no one should confuse fewer numbers of troops or hardware in any given place with a lessening of capability, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters en route here overnight.
Rumsfeld was responding to a reporter's question about some U.S. forces deploying from South Korea to Iraq. Rumsfeld will hold a bilateral meeting with South Korean representatives during his visit here.
The secretary said the United States has been working for the past 2 years to reposition its forces in a way that makes sense in meeting 21st century challenges.
Cooperation from countries across the globe has been "excellent," he said, as the Defense Department has taken its time and consulted extensively with Congress and U.S. allies in determining what changes need to take place.
The idea that "numbers of troops or numbers of things is how one assesses capability" is outdated, Rumsfeld said. "You can have 10 ships and take three away, and replace a few of the remaining seven with ships that are vastly more capable," he explained, "and you end up with a smaller number of things and a vastly greater capability and lethality, and that's true of almost all kinds of capabilities we have."
Rumsfeld emphasized that capability, not numbers, is the bottom line. "This country will not weaken the deterrent or the defense capabilities that we have," he said, "even though numbers and locations may shift and evolve as technologies advance and as circumstances change."
The time has come, Rumsfeld said, to move the U.S. defense posture away from the Cold War model. "It's time to adjust those locations from static defense to a more agile and a more capable and a more 21st century posture," he said.
Explaining how the Defense Department has gone about the process, Rumsfeld said no one should expect one big announcement that describes a total result of the effort.
"First, we looked at each area of responsibility, then we looked at the globe totally and connected those things," he said. Consultations with Congress, other parts of the government's executive branch, and preliminary meetings with the countries likely to be affected the most followed.
"And then we said, 'OK, pretty good. We have a good sense of what we think we'd like to do,'" Rumsfeld said. "But we don't know what we will do until we go and try to do what we would like to do."
This involves telling other countries that it's important to the United States for its forces to be based hospitably and where they're usable. "We don't want forces located where we can't move them and deal with the problems that exist in the world," he said.
"We've got choices; we're not in a position of being a supplicant," he said. "We don't want to do anything some other country doesn't want us to. We don't need to. We've got a variety of different ways we can do this."
Rather than trying to put together a fixed template for U.S. global posture, Rumsfeld explained, the final decisions will be made a country at a time, and no big announcement will be made.
"We'll start with a country, and if it's not comfortable, we'll try the second choice and see if that's better, then the third choice, and we'll just work our way around until we get it all done, and it will be announced in pieces.
"When it's all over, our country will be vastly better off," he said, "the friends and allies of the United States will be vastly better off, and we will look somewhat different than we currently do."