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Wolfowitz Addresses Changing Defense Priorities

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2001 – Now more than ever, the U.S. military must transform to meet the threats of the 21st century, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Nov. 14.

Wolfowitz, keynote speaker at this year's Fletcher Conference, said the United States must fund budgets to adequately defend the country. The conference is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Army. The theme this year is "National Security for a New Era."

In hindsight, Wolfowitz said, the United States should have been investing over the last decade to address homeland defense. "But, if someone had predicted when we presented our budget request on Capitol Hill last July that the Department of Defense would soon need billions of dollars more in new money for combat operations halfway around the world in Central Asia, while at the same time using a large fraction of our surveillance assets and aircraft for combat air patrols over the United States, there would have been any number of skeptics on hand to say: 'No way,'" he said.

He said the Sept. 11 attacks should give Americans a new perspective on the issue of defense affordability. He said the economic losses from that attack have been measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. "And there is no way to put a price on the lives of the Americans who were lost," he said. "The capabilities that look so expensive in peace seem relatively cheap when you're confronted with what we face today."

Wolfowitz said the United States cannot possibly defend against all threats. "We must have plans that make allowances to cope with complexity and uncertainty -- plans that give us a range of options and the flexibility to respond to the unexpected," he said.

The Quadrennial Defense Review, passed to Congress in October, has as its base the need to shift U.S. planning from the "threat-based" model to a "capabilities-based" model for the future.

"We don't know who may threaten us or when or where, but we do have some sense of what may threaten us and how," Wolfowitz said. Capabilities-based planning takes into account existing and potential capabilities worldwide and assesses them against U.S. countermeasures.

The QDR recommended six elements for transformation of the military: homeland defense, power projection and sustenance, long-range precision strike capability, cyberwarfare defense, enhanced joint operation capabilities and access to space. The first three elements have immediate bearing on U.S. anti- terrorist operations.

"But if we focus on the first three goals alone, we are likely to neglect the last three transformation goals, which have not been heavily stressed in the present crisis," Wolfowitz said. "They will all play major roles in wars of the future. If we neglect these areas, they may provide the Pearl Harbors of the next decade, at costs that could exceed even the enormous sums we have lost in the last two months."

Planners will have to think about asymmetrical threats -- the tactics and weapons that adversaries may choose to circumvent U.S. military strengths. "Such threats include forms of warfare most civilized nations long ago renounced: chemical and biological weapons and the intentional killing of civilians through terrorism," Wolfowitz said.

The United States has asymmetrical advantages, and any capabilities-based plan needs to play to these strengths. Among these are: precision strike, intelligence and undersea warfare. "Our challenge is to deny our adversaries the benefits of asymmetric threats while capitalizing on our own asymmetric advantages," he said.

Wolfowitz said America's greatest asymmetrical advantage "is exactly what the terrorists tried to attack on Sept. 11 -- that is, the power of a free, democratic people whose government is based on universal ideals." The contrast between the United States and the Taliban could not be more extreme, he noted.

"We govern by law and self-determination," Wolfowitz said. "The Taliban, on the contrary, rules by terror -- one of their great weaknesses, and apparently one of the reasons why they are collapsing so quickly."

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Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at the Fletcher Conference, Washington, D.C. , Nov. 14, 2001

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