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Outreach Efforts Help Explain Unconventional War (Revised)

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2002 – The global war on terrorism is unlike any war the United States has ever fought.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has explained that the war will require the full spectrum of American power. Traditional military might is a part of this, but so are financial muscle, intelligence assets, law enforcement activities and diplomatic maneuvering.

Rumsfeld has said on more than one occasion that sometimes results will be in the open for people to see and other times the results will be hidden.

Explaining this unconventional war to the American people is also an important part of the campaign against terrorism. Building and sustaining support for the war is the purpose of the Defense Department's Defend America-National Outreach program.

"It was an initiative brought out right after September 11," said Brent Krueger, director of community relations and public liaison in the Pentagon. "It is designed to reach out to the American people and give them the most up-to-date information about this unconventional war.

"This helps Americans put the war in perspective," Krueger said. "Secretary Rumsfeld said Americans need to think about the war on terrorism and the country's role in it. This is an opportunity for the Defense Department to help this debate."

Speakers from various departments within DoD have fanned out across then United States and addressed more than 100 organizations. Senior members of the department often participate in these programs as adjuncts to already scheduled trips.

The organizations run the gamut from small, special interest groups to larger organizations. The department does not seek out groups. Speakers only address groups who have issued invitations. Other speakers have addressed groups who have journeyed to Washington.

Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Halbig, a Defense Department press officer, for example, is slated to speak to communications students at Hofstra University in New York. In yet another example, defense officials are slated to brief the chiefs of staff of the nation's governors in the Pentagon.

The speakers are, in effect, stand-ins for Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, recently carried the senior leaders' message to the American Legion annual conference in Charlotte, N.C.

Quigley gave the vets a status report" on the global war on terror. He said the horror of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack has taught the nation that the U.S. military must confront new threats with new thinking.

Past wars involved opposing nations, capital cities, political boundaries, as well as traditional armies, navies and air forces, he noted. The global war on terror has none of those things, he said.

"This is an enemy that lives and fights in the shadows," he stressed. "He wants it that way.

"This is very much an asymmetrical war," he continued. "There is no nation or group on the face of the earth that can look at the U.S. armed forces and come away with any other conclusion than, 'I cannot possibly take them on in a fair fight. So I won't. I will do it in an unconventional way.'

"Because it is an unconventional war, we absolutely must transform the way America's military is organized, trained and equipped," he said. "To defeat terror, you must go on the offensive and take the fight to the terrorists, and not wait for them to make the next move."

The increased use of special operations forces in Afghanistan is one manifestation of the Defense Department's new and different way of doing business, he stressed.

"Special Forces soldiers riding horses, talking on satellite telephones to 40-year-old bombers, dropping 21st century precision-guided munitions right where they want them -- ladies and gentleman, that's different thinking -- and it works," Quigley said. "When you get requests for saddles and oats, it tells you that this is a very different war, indeed."

America's concept of national defense as something that takes place "over there," no longer reflects today's reality, Quigley said. "When we woke up on the 12th of September, we realized that this was a home game and the score was 3,000 to nothing."

The United States and many other nations, he said, have seized more than $82 million in the last 10 months. Spain, Italy, Germany, Morocco and Singapore recently arrested suspected terrorists and seized their weapons before they could strike. This is a direct result of the increased intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, Quigley said.

U.S. officials have worked with more than 200 countries that have provided a wide range of assistance to the global war on terror, including providing military forces, granting basing and overflight rights, financial and diplomatic support or a combination of all the above.

A few Washington pundits say support for the war is flagging, the admiral noted. "I don't begrudge them their opinions; it's just not what I see. My reply to the skeptics is, 'Get out of Washington, because the American people's determination to defeat terror has never been stronger.'"

In the nation's capital, Quigley said, defense officials here questions like "Who have you caught?" and "When will you win?" Outside the Washington, D.C., Beltway, he said, the question people ask is always the same "How can we help?"

Groups that would like to invite a Defense Department speaker can write the office at "Defend AmericaNational Outreach, The Pentagon 1E776, Washington, D.C. 20310-1400 or call 703 695-3382.

(Linda D. Kozaryn supplied new material to this revised article.)

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