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Rumsfeld: Military Prepared for 21st Century Challenges

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2006 – Through challenging the status quo and questioning old assumptions, the Defense Department is becoming a more capable force ready to face changing conflicts, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here yesterday.

All the military services have made changes in equipment, practice, attitude and culture to make them more relevant to today's battlefield culture, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing.

"There's a clear awareness that our military must be ready for unforeseen eventualities while incorporating lessons learned from previous and current conflicts," he said.

The Navy is a prime example of the benefits of these changes, Rumsfeld said. In 2001, three out of every four U.S. naval ships were not deployable at any given time because of long repair and maintenance cycles, he said.

Naval strategists developed systems to make the force more efficient, like swapping crews by plane, buying more spare parts to reduce maintenance time, and keeping the fleet fully manned. Because of these changes, the number of deployable days for the Navy has doubled, and the percentage of the fleet routinely at sea has increased by 50 percent, he said.

"The United States Navy is vastly more capable, more lethal and more agile today," he said.

The Army is also making changes that will increase its lethality and effectiveness, Rumsfeld said. The Army is reorganizing its decades-old structure of large divisions into many smaller brigade combat teams with their own combat-support elements, he said. These changes will give the Army more flexibility for deployments and will ensure that 75 percent of the force is ready at all times to respond to a crisis, he said.

Lessons learned in Iraq have fueled many of the changes. DoD has increased funding for intelligence, put an emphasis on training troops in foreign languages, significantly expanded the role of special operations forces, and emphasized curriculums that teach non-traditional warfare at military training schools, Rumsfeld said.

More changes are ahead, as in the coming weeks DoD submits several important documents to Congress. The Quadrennial Defense Review, the National Military Strategy Risk Assessment, and the president's 2007 budget request are all part of a larger strategy to focus on how to fight future wars and continue positive change, he said.

"The overriding goal is to keep our country safe and to support the missions of the dedicated men and women in uniform," he said.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld

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