Defense Leaders Urge Proper Funding to Face Threats
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2004 Acknowledging that the president's budget request for fiscal 2005 represents "an enormous amount of money," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress today it funds investments that ensure the nation's ability to face future threats, including those posed by terrorists.
Rumsfeld told the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee that the $401.7 billion budget request will cover operations and initiatives needed "because our nation is engaged in a struggle that could well go on for a number of years."
To ensure victory, he said, the United States must ensure it has "the best- trained, best-equipped fighting force in the world." Likewise, he said the country must provide fair pay and benefits to the volunteers who make up the force.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the "dedicated soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are working hard to defeat global terrorism," and urged the committee to ensure that the force has what it needs to "stay the course and finish the job."
During his testimony, Rumsfeld outlined priorities in the proposed budget that he said will ensure a stronger, more efficient military force. These include managing demand on those in uniform, reshaping global defense posturing and basing, transforming military capabilities and streamlining management processes.
The budget request also includes funding for technologies and initiatives to strengthen intelligence capabilities, including improving human intelligence.
Rumsfeld praised the work of the intelligence community, which he said is asked "to penetrate the darkness of closed societies and organizations and to try to learn things that our adversaries don't want them to know." It's their difficult job, Rumsfeld said, "to connect the dots before the fact until actions can be taken to protect the American people."
And in the war on terror, the secretary said the intelligence community has contributed greatly to "the speed, the precision, the success" of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has "saved countless lives."
Thanking Congress for its past support of the war on terror, Rumsfeld said the 2005 budget request will ensure that the military remains ready to confront terrorism and other threats to U.S. security.
He said he is "convinced that the president did the right thing in Iraq," emphasizing that it was Saddam Hussein not the United States who chose going to war.
Rumsfeld said Saddam ignored 17 U.N. resolutions, passing up his final opportunity in Security Council Resolution 1441 to show the world that he had ended his weapons programs and destroyed his weapons. "Only then did the coalition act to liberate Iraq," Rumsfeld said.
Now, with U.S. troops on the offensive, not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, Myers said, it's critical for the United States to maintain its focus and provide proper funding for the force.
The war on terror, the chairman said, "will be a long war" that can't be won by dwelling on past successes. "We must stay the course and finish the job," he said.