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Rumsfeld Says Transformation Vital to Global Stability

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2002 – Transforming the Defense Department is as important to the success of the global war on terrorism as other steps the military is doing to combat the threat, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The Defense Department contributes significantly to the world's peace and stability, and without stability, the world economy "tanks," Rumsfeld said this week during a roundtable with a group of journalists. When that happens, he said, "none of the hopes and aspirations of people in our country and in the nations with whom we have such extensive economic interaction can be fulfilled."

People need a reasonably stable world, the secretary stressed. They need to know that when their kids go to school they'll come home safely. They need to know that when they invest money they'll get a decent return. They need to know that they won't be attacked in their workplace or when they travel in other parts of the world.

How the Defense Department functions, Rumsfeld said, "makes an enormous difference not just to our country, but, because of our interdependence with so many other countries, to their countries as well."

Defense officials have focused on several areas to ensure the military transforms to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. Attracting and retaining quality people is a top priority, Rumsfeld said.

"We need a work force that is adapted to the future, not the past," he said. "We need people who are capable of operating highly technical activities and providing the kind of leadership that is distinctive in our country and some other democracies."

Second, Rumsfeld said, is modernizing the force. The military must keep replenishing its ships, planes, tanks and other equipment.

"Once your airplane fleet, for example, gets old," he said, "you can keep it in the air, but you have to spend a lot more money on spare parts, and there's a lot more down time. So therefore, you have to have more airplanes to get the same number of sorties."

The military must also keep investing now to ensure the services have the capabilities they'll need 10 to 20 years in the future. "So what you have to do," Rumsfeld explained, "is balance the desire to spend the money on the people side against the desire to modernize and keep what you've got -- (keep) your legacy systems going, and then also transform the force in a way that makes sense."

People are often hesitant to invest in items that won't benefit the country until after their careers are over, the secretary noted.

"But, if you think about the F-16 airplane," he noted, "I was at the roll-out for that and we're still flying it." The military rolled out the F-16 in 1975, Rumsfeld said, when he was defense secretary the first time.

"The B-1 bomber is still flying," he added. "I was around for that decision. I was the one who approved the M-1 tank, which was so successful in Desert Storm in the 1990s and is the basic piece of equipment for the Army today."

Decisions made today must be "right," the secretary declared, since weapon platforms last a long time. He said defense officials are now putting a lot of attention on such investment decisions because the nature of the threats facing the country has changed.

"We do not really face highly competent armies, navies and air forces that are threatening our country today," Rumsfeld said. "What we do face are a set of capabilities and technologies and weapons of mass destruction that can cause enormous carnage in our country and deployed forces and friends and allies around the world."

To deal with that, he concluded, the military has to organize, train and equip to address those kinds of capabilities, "as opposed to just continuing what we were doing in the 20th century."

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Interview With The National Journalists Roundtable, Aug. 5, 2002

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