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Rumsfeld: Afghan, Iraq War Success Validates Budget Request

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2003 – DoD's fiscal 2004 budget proposal now before Congress "is the first to fully reflect the new defense strategies and policies, and the lessons of the global war on terror," the military's top civilian told senior legislators here May 14.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld testified before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said the $379.9 billion DoD fiscal 2004 request would be applied "to meet the threats that this dangerous new century poses, and threats that emerge often without warning."

"We have to apply the lessons from the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq," the secretary emphasized, in transforming DoD and the services "as to how they organize, how they train, how they equip and exercise and fight" in the 21st century.

For example, Rumsfeld noted, speed and agility displayed by U.S. and coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom prevented Saddam's troops from putting up "a coherent defense," thus shortening the war's duration and reducing casualties.

Another important lesson learned in Iraq was the ability to quickly act upon fresh intelligence, as shown by the surprise March 19 air strike on Hussein's suspected headquarters in Baghdad.

New munitions have proved their worth in 21st century war fighting, Rumsfeld pointed out, such as the thermobaric Hellfire missile that was used for the first time in Iraq against enemy forces. With this Hellfire, an exploding mist creates a powerful shock wave where it detonates, wiping out whatever and whoever is nearby.

As such, that missile "can take out the first floor of a building without damaging the floors above," the secretary explained, "and is capable of reaching around corners, striking enemy forces that hide in caves or bunkers and hardened, multiroom complexes."

Also, U.S. and coalition military planners used computer modeling in determining the best direction, angle of attack and type of weapon to use for air strikes against enemy targets, while reducing civilian casualties and collateral damage.

Consequently, Iraqi Freedom "was done with greater precision than any conflict in history," Rumsfeld asserted.

The secretary said the use of precision munitions against enemy forces and facilities in the Iraq War, "had to have persuaded the Iraqi people that the effort was not against the country of Iraq, was not against the Iraqi people, was not against a religion, but, in fact, was against a regime."

Such success supports "the decision to request increases in the 2004 budget for research and development, testing, evaluation (and) procurement," the secretary observed, as well as ongoing efforts to expedite the development and issuance of new equipment to war fighters.

Joint operations also proved their worth in Iraq, Rumsfeld noted. He pointed out that former prisoner of war Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued "by a joint team of Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, Marines, (and) Air Force" special operations troops.

The employment of such forces, Rumsfeld asserted, proved to be another combat multiplier during fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Special operators "were the first coalition forces to hit the ground" in Iraq, Rumsfeld said, noting that "a number of them went in before the war formally began." He also cited these troops' "remarkable performance" in Afghanistan.

Such successes "support the decisions we've made to transform the Special Operations Command and to request needed new investments in special operations in the budget," Rumsfeld remarked.

Other important lessons applied to 21st century warfare will also be gleaned from military operations in Iraq, the secretary pointed out.

DoD's 2004 budget request "was developed with warfare of this kind in mind," Rumsfeld declared, "and the experiences in fighting this war have confirmed the decisions made in the Defense Review, which are reflected in the budget before the committee."

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