Rumsfeld: Anti-Terror War Drives DoD Transformation Efforts
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2003 The ongoing war against global terrorism makes U.S. military transformation efforts an imperative goal, DoD's top civilian and uniformed officer said here today.
Accompanied by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld opened a Pentagon town hall meeting by thanking service members and civil servants both here and around the globe for their "remarkable" efforts since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
"You and your comrades and colleagues around the world have performed magnificently in so many ways" in defending the American people "against those who seek to harm this country," the secretary observed.
Rumsfeld had special praise for "the brave men and women in uniform that risked their lives to help liberate" the Afghan and Iraqi people from despotic regimes.
Despite these victories, "the global war on terror is far from over," the secretary cautioned, noting the war "poses some difficult times ahead for us, as we've seen just in recent weeks and months since the end of major combat operations in Iraq."
However, Rumsfeld emphasized that America and its allies will "win this global war on terror."
And DoD must continue its transformation to meet 21st century threats, such as terrorism, Rumsfeld maintained.
This requires U.S. military forces to become "lighter, more agile," the secretary pointed out, as well as overhauling the way the department administers its civilian workforce, such as by using performance as a metric for rewards rather than seniority.
And in tandem with transformation, the department has strived in the past two years to improve service members' quality of life, Rumsfeld pointed out, working with Congress to achieve needed military pay raises and reducing out- of-pocket expenses for housing.
Those efforts are paying off, he noted, since the armed services' recruiting and retention programs are meeting or exceeding their goals.
The fruits of DoD transformation efforts are evident even today, the secretary pointed out, noting that the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq required "far fewer troops" and less time to assemble forces and materiel than in past wars.
And he noted that Operation Iraqi Freedom was the most "joint" U.S. war in history.
U.S. troop presence in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Sinai is being drawn down, Rumsfeld pointed out, while every day more coalition forces and "Iraqis are taking over the police and civil defense duties" in Iraq that were done by American troops.
"And that's a good thing," the secretary asserted.
The U.S. military is also working to establish "a more efficient deployment and re-deployment process," Rumsfeld said. That, along with a rebalancing of "skill sets" between active forces and the Guard and Reserve, he added, should assist in reducing personnel turbulence and increasing efficiency across the force.
For example, he pointed to the current heavy concentration of civil affairs troops and other especially needed specialties in the reserve component, which has made for those service members' repeated deployments to places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Citizen soldiers, the secretary observed, did not sign up for such continuous military duty when they volunteered for the Guard or reserve.
On a related issue, Rumsfeld noted that both active duty and reserve component troops and their families "need to know when they're leaving" for deployments and when they'll return.
"We're going to work on that," the secretary asserted, noting that many Guard and reserve members have recently been called up with just five days' notice, rather than the desired goal of 30 days. Some other troops, he added, were called up three to four months in advance only to find out later that they weren't going to deploy.
This state of affairs "is not really fair to them and it's not fair to their families or their employers," the secretary maintained.
"We need to fix it and we're in the process of getting it fixed," he vowed.
And Rumsfeld noted the Pentagon is now looking over studies that say 300,000 non-core-competency military positions could be transferred to civil servants or to contractors.
If all, or part, of the studies prove workable, then DoD might free up more slots for uniformed members "to reduce the stress on the force," he noted.
Summing up, the Defense Department must continue its transformational march even as it has "the war on terror to pursue and win," Rumsfeld emphasized, so that the armed services "will be able to meet the challenges that we face and to deter future adversaries from posing new threats to the people of our country."