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People at Heart of Nation's Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2001 – National defense all comes down to people, President George W. Bush said.

"Peace is earned by strength, and strength begins with the men and women who wear the uniform," Bush said Feb. 10 during his radio address to the nation. "New weapons and technologies are important, but they are only as effective as the people who use them."

This is the heart of the Bush defense proposals. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush promised to raise pay for service members. He vowed to provide targeted bonuses for service members with special skills and to renovate or build new housing.

Bush said the military must improve the quality of training. "Shortfalls on the proving ground become disasters on the battlefield," he said during a speech at the Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C., in September 1999.

Now Bush is elected and it is up to his national security team to translate his promises into programs. Some of these actions will be immediate, others must wait.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will lead a team examining national security and national defense. He appeared on Fox News Sunday Feb. 11 to speak of the process.

"(Fulfilling defense changes) may indeed mean more money," Rumsfeld said. "The president of the United States has indicated that he intends to have a $1 billion-plus pay increase for the men and women of the armed services."

Other changes must wait on the completion of a defense strategy review. Rumsfeld said the review is important not only to get more funds for DoD, but to ensure the funds are spent wisely.

"What it means is, the president decided to engage our brains rather than just open the taxpayers' wallets," he said. The review will allow Rumsfeld to examine the state of the military then go to the president with recommendations setting priorities.

Part of that review is quality of life issues for the men and women of the armed services, Rumsfeld said. "We have put that in motion," he said. "The focus has to be on the quality of life for the people, the people are the heart of the armed services. Without the men and women we are able to attract and retain to man the forces, then we really don't have a national defense."

Rumsfeld said the review would address readiness as a quality of life issue as well as one of new equipment. "If you have a force that has to cannibalize equipment to keep some portion of it operational, that's not good for morale," he said.

The review will also check the missions of the military and ensure the United States can defend against new and emerging threats. "There is still a lot of rhetoric that sounds like the Cold War," Rumsfeld said. He said he still hears people use "'Cold War-think' words" like "massive retaliation" and "strategic nuclear exchanges."

"The concern for the United States today is not a massive nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is gone, it doesn't exist," Rumsfeld said. "Russia is there and that is a very different thing than the Soviet Union. We don't expect a massive attack across the North German Plain with tanks and artillery and that sort of thing."

So the military must reconfigure to meet these threats. Rumsfeld said a quicker, more agile military is needed.

But the United States also must develop a range of defenses against asymmetrical attacks, he said, "so we can effectively deter and defend against threats that are new and emerging and are quite different than massive land or air wars, or nuclear exchanges."

He said the Persian Gulf War proved to countries hostile to the United States that it is not a good idea to directly challenge Western armies, navies or air forces. Terrorism, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, cyberwarfare, information warfare are all cheaper than land wars, and the technologies are already available, he said.

"The United States has to recognize these emerging threats and see that these are arranged so we are not vulnerable to terrorist or nuclear blackmail," he said.

Facing this broad range of threats, a Cold War standby -- the idea of deterrence -- has to change. Whereas deterrence meant deterring a nuclear attack, today it must deter a range of threats.

"The goal isn't to win a war," Rumsfeld said. "The goal is to be so capable of winning a war that you don't have to fight it. You dissuade and deter people from engaging in mischief they otherwise might do."

Some form of missile defense is needed, and it also will be part of the review, he said. "With the end of the Cold War, proliferation has spread these technologies of weapons of mass destruction around the globe," he said. "Any president looking at his responsibility as commander-in-chief would have to say that a policy designed to keep the American people totally vulnerable does not make much sense."

Rumsfeld will examine a system to defend the United States from a "relatively small number of ballistic missiles with weapons of mass destruction -- regardless of whether the launch was accidental, unintentional or intentional."

He said such a system threatens no one and it should be of concern to no one. The only people who should be concerned about missile defense are those countries or organizations who intend to attack their neighbors. He said the United States would consult with allies and friends around the world about the system.

He said missile defense ought to be deployed at the time that makes the most sense and when the technology evolves.

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Related Sites:
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Interview on ABC News Sunday, Feb. 11, 2001


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