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Modified 'Two-War' Strategy Would Balance Risks, Realities

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is mulling a new force strategy that could be likened to a fighter who can totally stomp one enemy while neutralizing a second with a punch in the nose.

"I am saying we can afford to have the ability to win two significant conflicts. With respect to one of them, we can do it on our own terms; we can go all the way (to capture the enemy's capital), if we want to," Rumsfeld told reporters Aug. 17 at the Pentagon. "And, in the other situation, you can defeat" the enemy, but not occupy his capital."

Rumsfeld remarked that the president would have the option of prioritizing either conflict.

U.S forces would also be able "to conduct a series of smaller scale contingencies" under the proposed new strategy, he said.

The DoD force-sizing concept since the early 1990s has been for the U.S. military to be able to decisively win two near-simultaneous major regional conflicts.

That strategy eventually "took priority over people, it took priority over modernization, it took priority over transformation," Rumsfeld said. At the same time, U.S. forces were reduced even as the operations tempo climbed in response to increased military contingencies, he said.

"That has been the construct that has been used for the past decade and it has brought us to a point where we don't have the forces to do it," he said.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability at the Pentagon, Aug. 17, 2001

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