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Rumsfeld Foresees Increasing Capability, Lethality for Navy

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE, June 4, 2004 – Though the Navy may ultimately be smaller in terms of numbers of people, it is on the path toward being a more capable and more lethal force, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visits with sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, June 4, 2004. Rumsfeld was in Singapore to attend the International Institute of Scientific Studies Conference, meet with regional leaders and visit with U.S. troops. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison Jr., USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The secretary took questions from sailors and Marines on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex during a town hall meeting following a re- enlistment ceremony for 30 sailors and two Marines.

Asked for his views on the Navy downsizing, Rumsfeld said he has "enormous respect" for Navy Secretary Gordon England and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "What they are in the process of doing is trying to invest in increasingly capable and lethal military equipment that is less manpower- intensive, and there is no doubt but that the Navy of tomorrow and next year and the year after will be a considerably more capable Navy."

The term "downsizing" leaves a misunderstanding in people's minds, he said. Along with being more capable, agile and lethal, the Navy may see its personnel numbers remain level or drop modestly if new and better ships can operate with fewer people than less modern ones, Rumsfeld added. But he emphasized that the Navy's leadership has "no doubt" that the Navy will be more capable for years to come.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Navy Secretary Gordon England
Adm. Vern Clark

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