Bush Outlines Sweeping DoD Transformation Efforts
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md., May 27, 2005 Revolutionary advances in technology "are transforming war in our favor," President Bush said at the U.S. Naval Academy here today.
He added that the country's investment in such technology advances "will help us keep the peace by redefining war on our terms."
Bush used his keynote address during the academy's Class of 2005 graduation and commissioning ceremonies as a forum to describe his far-reaching plans to transform the U.S. military. Those plans involve changing not only how military forces are organized, trained and equipped, but also where they are stationed, both overseas and domestically.
The goal of the transformation effort, Bush said, is to make U.S. forces "faster, lighter, more agile and more lethal" and better positioned to counter new and emerging threats.
"In our time, terrible dangers can arise on a short moment anywhere in the world, and we must be prepared to oppose these dangers everywhere in the world," he said.
The president vowed to the midshipmen in the audience that they'll have "the very equipment and resources you need to get the job done," and said the country is putting the necessary funding behind that commitment.
The United States has invested $16 billion during the past four years to build transformational military capabilities, and the administration has requested $78 billion more for these efforts over the next four years, Bush said. In addition, he noted $240 billion has gone into research and development to build more advanced capabilities in the decades ahead, and the administration has requested $275 billion more to continue those efforts during the next four years.
"We've already seen the power of technology to transform our forces," he said. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, for example, aircraft taking off from a carrier deck could engage about 200 targets a day. Now, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, that number has jumped to over 600 targets a day -- three times the capability, the president pointed out.
At the same time, these strikes are becoming increasingly precise, he said. The new Hellfire missile, for example, can isolate strikes to a single floor of a single building and reach around corners to strike enemy forces hiding in caves, bunkers and hardened complexes.
"In the coming years, there are going to be some awfully surprised terrorists when the thermobaric Hellfire comes knocking!" Bush said as the audience broke into applause.
The changes ahead will be "even more dramatic," the president promised, giving the audience a glimpse into technologies being planned or developed:
- Unmanned underwater vehicles that can go where no submarine can go today;
- Advanced destroyers capable of shooting down ballistic missiles;
- Strike submarines that can silently carry special operations forces and cruise missiles within striking distance of adversaries;
- Joint sea bases that enable forces to strike from floating platforms close to the action; and
- Undersea surveillance systems that provide almost total battle-space awareness.
Other innovations, like the joint tactical radio, will enable all services to share information in the heat of battle, "to work together as a truly joint force," Bush said.
"These technological advances will put unprecedented agility, speed, precision and power in your hands," the president told the midshipmen. It also gives the capability to strike enemies "with greater effectiveness, at greater range, with fewer civilian casualties," he said.
"In this era of warfare, we can target a regime, not a nation," Bush said. "And that means terrorists and tyrants can no longer feel safe hiding behind innocent life. In the 21st century, we can target the guilty and protect the innocent -- and that makes it easier to keep the peace."
While transforming the force, it's also important to reposition its members "so they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats," the president said.
Some 60,000 to 70,000 U.S. servicemembers stationed overseas will return to the United States in what the president called "the biggest transformation of our global force posture since the end of World War II."
"These changes will reduce the stress on your families, raise the pressure on our enemies, and ensure that you remain the most powerful and effective fighting force on earth," he told the midshipmen.
The U.S. military must transform its domestic force posture as well, and that will require closing and realigning stateside military bases, he said. "The military services ... have concluded that we have more bases than we need," the president said. "Supporting these facilities wastes billions of taxpayer dollars -- money that can be better spent giving you the tools to fight terrorists and confront 21st-century threats."
The Defense Department presented its recommendations to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission two weeks ago, representing "only the beginning of the process," Bush said. Commission members are now visiting the sites recommended for closure and hearing from affected communities.
Bush acknowledged that local communities can be hard-hit by base closings and vowed to do everything possible to smooth the transition through economic development aid, job training and help with redevelopment plans for affected bases.
The BRAC process "will be impartial and fair," Bush promised, and in the end, will save the United States $48 billion over the next 20 years.
"It will result in a military that is more efficient and better prepared, so you can better protect the American people against the dangers of this new century," he told the midshipmen.
But Bush reminded the graduating class that transformation "requires more than high-tech weapons" and that "all the advanced technology in the world will not transform our military if we do not transform our thinking."
He urged the midshipmen to bring "creativity, ingenuity and a willingness to try new things," to their military careers.
"Seek out the innovative leaders in our military, work with them and learn from them, and they will help you become leaders yourself," he said. "Show courage, and not just on the battlefield. Pursue the possibilities others tell you do not exist."
The president warned the midshipman that they're likely to face opposition if they challenge existing ways of thinking, but encouraged them to prevail.
In doing so, he said, "You will make America safer for your children and your grandchildren, and you'll add to the character of our nation."