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Building Capabilities Key to Defense of Future, Rumsfeld Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2006 – Building military capabilities is the heart of countering threats, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference today.

Rumsfeld and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported on the senior defense leaders meeting held here this week in which senior Pentagon civilian and military leaders met with unified and combatant commanders. The leaders discussed the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review.

Rumsfeld used the example of the Higgins boat as an example of why capabilities are so important. The Navy and Marine Corps began looking at the problems of amphibious warfare after World War I. They could not have imagined the needs that would confront the Allies in World War II. Andrew Higgins - an industrialist in New Orleans - developed the Higgins boat that allowed troops and supplies to land on beaches. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during the war, said if Higgins had not designed and built those boats, the whole strategy of the war would have had to be different.

"The best security planning recognizes that it's impossible to predict precisely the character of future adversaries and of future conflicts," Rumsfeld said. "Therefore, planning ... is designed to increase capabilities rather than to respond to any single threat."

The senior leaders met to discuss the global war on terrorism and ways to configure the department for the future. The immediate impetus for the meeting is the release of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2007 Defense budget request in February.

Rumsfeld and Pace said the combatant commanders have been intimately involved in forming the QDR. The secretary said this is the first QDR done in a time of war.

Capabilities - like the development of the capability to launch invasions across beaches in World War II - are the blood of life to future defenses.

"As we've seen in recent years, our outstanding soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines must act at any given moment as warfighters, civil police, engineers, diplomats, humanitarians," Rumsfeld said. "This range and unpredictability of missions means that theater commanders have to have sufficient authority and capability to adapt rapidly to changing conditions on the ground. We must continue transforming the department to get better arranged for speed, agility, mobility and precision in most everything we do."

Fitting in to this is the changing global footprint and the base realignment and closure process. Tying the development of these capabilities to the budgeting process is also key to ensuring a prepared military for the future, Rumsfeld said.

As a superpower, the U.S. military must handle the full-range of capabilities from combat operations against a peer competitor to asymmetric warfare to homeland defense missions to humanitarian and stability operations, he said.

Pace said that during the conference leaders spoke about the circumstances facing each combatant commander.

Intelligence was a matter that came up repeatedly, Rumsfeld said. He used the shorthand of "find, fix and finish" meaning finding a threat, isolating it and killing it. He said the U.S. military has a great deal of ability to finish a threat, but not enough of the find and fix part of the equation.

"We need to see that there is an intimate relationship in proximity and time between intelligence and operations," he said. "And that kind of a discussion was something that was examined at great length."

Pace expanded on this, saying the discussions among the leaders looked at "what's working, what's not working."

"Will it continue to work in the future? What needs to be changed? How might one commander reinforce the efforts of another commander? How we can assure information across boundaries and make sure that we're doing this as effectively and efficiently as possible.

"It was very much focused on where are we, where are we going, and what's the best way from the lessons we've learned today to get to where we're going," the chairman said.

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Biographies:
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

Related Articles:
Top Commanders, Pentagon Chiefs Discuss QDR, Other Issues



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