Change Needed to Combat New Threats, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2006 Change is needed to combat threats confronting America, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a speech at Kansas State University today.
Rumsfeld traveled to Manhattan, Kan., to deliver the Landon Lecture. He spoke about the changes needed to more effectively fight against a threat to America’s way of life.
Rumsfeld told the more than 5,000 attendees that the United States cannot afford to have separate departmental efforts in the war on terror. The status quo of different departments and agencies “each waging their own campaigns, with their own rules and restrictions, each overseen by separate congressional committees and subcommittees,” cannot be maintained. “Defense, diplomacy and development cannot fit neatly into separate compartments today,” he said.
Success requires security, governance and development programs to work together, Rumsfeld added. “Our military cannot lose a battle in Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said. “But our military cannot win all alone. They need the help of other departments and agencies. They need the help of a broad coalition.”
The provincial reconstruction team concept is an innovative program helping focus efforts against terrorism. These teams draw on resources and expertise from a range of government agencies, and they have achieved a good deal, Rumsfeld said. “But their success has been limited, because these activities too often are thought to remain almost exclusively in the responsibility of the Department of Defense.”
The teams include positions for personnel from the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, Treasury, Commerce and other agencies, but they are often unfilled, he said.
“We need to recognize that this struggle against extremism cannot and will not be won by any single nation,” he said. “It will be won over time by the hundreds of millions of Muslims -- Iraqis, Afghans, Egyptians, Indonesians, as well as European and American Muslims -- who will ultimately be responsible for winning the struggle against violent extremists.”
The Defense Department has asked for significant increases in funding and authority to build the capacity and capabilities of partner nations, he said. “Today’s war against a global enemy requires first and foremost that we enable allies, especially those in the Muslim world, to confront and defeat the extremists within their own borders and on their own airwaves,” he said.
In the past, U.S. efforts to train foreign security forces have been burdened by outdated restrictions, The secretary said. “In Afghanistan, for instance, building up the Afghan Army was unnecessarily and harmfully delayed because there was no such category in the U.S. federal budget at the time,” he said. “The painful delays in training the Afghan and Iraqi police forces were a result of the fact that it was the responsibility of others and not the Department of Defense,” which was prohibited from training police.
Another change needed is to examine the budget cycle, Rumsfeld said. The realities of the war on terror do not correspond to the yearly federal budgetary process. It takes a year to craft a budget, another to get it approved by Congress and a third to execute that then somewhat stale program, he said. “The department is currently drawing up proposed legislation to reform existing regulations and authorities … that still hamper effective U.S. action,” he said.
Another area of government that needs substantial reform is communications. Today’s global 24-hour media presents new challenges for a government that operates on a different schedule, the secretary said. Al Qaeda operatives tell followers that the media is a battlefield. “The enemy we face has skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part, our country and our government have not yet completed the adjustments that are necessary,” he said.
“The enemy is fast. With headline-grabbing attacks, by doctoring photographs, lying to the media, and being trained to allege torture, the enemy successfully manipulates the free world’s press -- a press that they would never allow to be free -- and they do so purposefully to intimidate and break the will of free peoples,” he said. “We need to understand the ruthlessness, the skillfulness of this enemy.”
Rumsfeld said he has faith in the will of the American people. “I have seen us triumph over dictators and tyrannies in many forms, and I believe that if we persevere today -- and I am convinced we will -- and make the right choices, and develop a clear understanding of the war we face today -- the first war of the 21st century -- we can overcome the increasingly lethal threats to our country,” he said.