Transformation Key in Winning War on Terror
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2004 One key to winning the war on terrorism is "getting the people who are on our side, able to fight with us," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here today.
And "the war is not an excuse to delay transformation it is a reason to accelerate it," he quoted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld..
"We have to think of transformation as it pertains to the war on terrorism," Wolfowtiz told the standing-room only crowd in opening the Defense Transformation: Efforts and Opportunities Conference at the Heritage Foundation. "One of the areas we've neglected is irregular warfare."
Of the many dimensions to irregular warfare, the key one is "our ability to work with indigenous forces, to train, organize and equip them and to fight alongside and with them. It is the key to success in Iraq, in Afghanistan."
The deputy secretary said this also involves another kind of transformation "taking more advantage of the extraordinary resources in this country that come from the good population."
He said it is still very difficult to bring Afghan-Americans or Iraqi-Americans into the American military or other DoD capacities. "Just stop and think," he added. "It's pretty obvious how valuable these people can be in the conflicts we're fighting today and realize that's the transformation that needs to take place."
As transformation continues, Wolfowitz said services must continue to work together. "Jointness must go to a higher level," he added.
The deputy secretary said there's also a need to "think about what might threaten us as opposed to who might threaten us."
He said biodefense, the effort against bioterrorism, has to take a higher priority. "It's a horrible thing to contemplate," he added. "It's difficult to deal with but, that difficulty is not an excuse for not thinking about it."
The deputy lauded the efforts of the troops deployed in the war on terrorism, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Our people are the key to everything and our people are incredible," he said. "I think one of the great, stunning things about the American military is in fact the quality of our noncommissioned officers . Other militaries just don't delegate that kind of authority down to that level."
Wolfowitz said he is stunned by the sheer ingenuity and courage of those serving. "There's something about American ingenuity and American civic culture that's combined with American military courage that is producing incredible results in Iraq, in Afghanistan and around the world," he said.