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U.S. to Consult Allies on American Military Posture

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2003 – The Defense Department is ready to start consulting with allies on what the worldwide American military posture should be, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon press conference today.

Rumsfeld said the decision follows years of interagency work on America's military posture and what it should look like to confront the threats of the 21st century.

Military posture refers to the size and location of a nation's armed forces. For example, the secretary recently announced changes to the basing posture of American forces in the Republic of Korea.

Rumsfeld stressed that these are preliminary talks with allies around the world. The United States is not going to present a "fait accompli" to allies. Rather it will be a true give-and-take and the talks will be open and frank, defense officials said.

"How it will all end up will depend in a major way on our discussions with our allies, friends and partners," Rumsfeld said. "And because of the costs involved and because of the importance of the Congress in this role, we will be engaging the Congress on those subjects as well."

The process will take months to finish consultations and years to actually accomplish. While some small progress might be made next year, troops returning from Iraq, for example, will return to the bases they left from, said Pentagon officials.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said the primary goal of the global posture "is that as we rearrange ourselves in the world, that we do a better job of enhancing U.S. security and the security of our friends and allies."

He said that change makes people nervous, and he understands that, but any decision will mean a better defense.

A senior defense official said later that there are a number of overarching concepts that lie behind the global posture. The first is that any change would enhance flexibility in order to deal with uncertainty. The second is to expand allied roles and build new partnerships. The third is to focus on conditions within and across regions. The fourth is to develop rapidly deployable capabilities. Fifth, and finally, the concept focuses on capabilities, not numbers.

The last concerns Rumsfeld. He said there is a tendency to think in terms of numbers of things as equaling security. But U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan show that smaller numbers may bring large capabilities.

"We have a tendency here where combatant commanders will ask for specific things, and that's the old way of doing it," he said. "And in the future they very likely are not going to be asking for 'x' numbers of troops or planes or ships or tanks, they're going to be asking for capabilities that they can then use to project power on a specific type of target. And that is something that we ourselves have to get adjusted to."

Officials said that U.S. interagency teams will go to various allies and discuss the proposals. "The Department of State will be stepping out with cables (messages) and the like, giving people indications that we will be in intensive discussions with them to talk about these things and to hear their ideas and to engage our friends and allies so that we can figure out between us what makes the most sense," the secretary said. "The goal is to end up with capabilities that are as good or better, and addressed not to 20th century threats but to 21st century capabilities and threats."

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