[Homestead] Military transition
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Fri Sep 3 12:08:45 EDT 2004
Guerrilla warfare requires shift from slow, massive buildups on foreign
bases (which may not be available), to rapid deployment of small, fast
high-impact units based on naval vessels and/or nations dependent on
U.S. for theri security (forget about Europe except for Britain).
*Shift From Traditional War Seen at Pentagon*
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 3, 2004; Page A01
Top Pentagon officials are considering a new, long-term strategy that
shifts spending and resources away from large-scale warfare to build
more agile, specialized forces for fighting guerrilla wars, confronting
terrorism and handling less conventional threats, officials said yesterday.
The proposal, presented two weeks ago to Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld and others, could carry major implications for defense
spending, eventually moving some funds away from ships, tanks and planes
and toward troops, elite Special Operations forces and intelligence
gathering. The shift has been building for some time, but the plan
circulating at the Pentagon would accelerate the changes, analysts said.
The plan's working assumption is that the United States faces almost no
serious conventional threats from traditional, state-based militaries.
Thus, it says, the United States should accept more risk in that area to
pay more attention to other threats: terrorism, the type of low-tech
guerrilla fighting confronting troops in Iraq, and the possibility of
dramatic technological advances by adversaries. Some of those priorities
depend more heavily on troop strength than high-tech weaponry and could
increase the pressure on the Pentagon to build the size of the Army and
the Marine Corps.
"The lesson learned in [Operation] Iraqi Freedom is that in some areas,
we have capabilities overmatch," said Christopher "Ryan" Henry, the
principal undersecretary of defense for policy, who wrote and presented
the briefing to Rumsfeld on Aug. 19. "We can't see many competitors that
are coming at us in the traditional domain.
"In the business world, this is the equivalent of coming up with a new
product in a new market," Henry added.
A copy of the slide presentation
given to Rumsfeld was obtained by The Washington Post, after which
officials agreed to discuss portions of it in interviews.
The documents said Pentagon planning should emphasize preparing for
"catastrophic" challenges such as use of weapons of mass destruction
"against high-profile targets by terrorists or rogue states." It also
cited the need to prepare for "irregular challenges" from other
countries or groups, including terrorism, insurgency and civil war.
One example of the new thinking urged in the plan was what it called the
"stretch goal" of being able to invade a country, keep 200,000 troops
there for five years, and be able to organize, train and equip a local
military force of 100,000 troops in just six months.
That is more soldiers than the U.S. military has had in Iraq, now about
140,000. It also envisions far more effective training of local forces
than the U.S. military has been able to deliver there, where after a
year of effort the Iraqi military remains small and uneven in
performance. In April, for example, a battalion of the newly formed
Iraqi army refused an order from U.S. commanders to reinforce the
Marines fighting in Fallujah.
One senior officer who attended the mid-August briefing said it was
received warmly by top Pentagon officials. "It generated intriguing
discussion around the table and a positive endorsement of the concepts
in the end," he said. The discussion came as the Pentagon is gearing up
for the major review of overall strategy that Congress requires every
By itself, the document's assessment of threats confronting the military
is not controversial. The recent report of the Sept. 11 commission
stated the issue clearly: "National security used to be considered by
studying foreign frontiers, weighing opposing groups of states, and
measuring industrial might. To be dangerous, an enemy had to muster
While there is emerging consensus on new threats, military analysts said
it is not automatic that broad changes in weaponry or strategy will result.
For one thing, placing more emphasis on manpower and intelligence could
antagonize parts of the defense industry that produce weaponry. Indeed,
a Pentagon official's explanatory notes attached to the PowerPoint
presentation said the Pentagon's goal should simply be "maintenance of
Indeed, Pentagon officials said they were unhappy that the briefing
papers were released for two reasons: It intruded on internal
deliberations, and could be seen by members of Congress, contractors or
even military officers as a threat to prized weapons programs.
Henry, however, said the briefing should be seen as a broad statement
about future U.S. military capabilities, not a more specific list of
narrower choices of what weapons would be needed.
"It's really divorced from platforms," he said, using the Pentagon word
for anything that carries weapons or sensors, including ships, aircraft,
or land vehicles. "It would be premature to take this . . . directly to
Outside experts on military change and strategy were skeptical about
whether Rumsfeld would be able to secure sweeping change in philosophy.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Andrew F. Krepinevich,
executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments, a defense-oriented think tank. But, he said, the uniformed
leadership at the Pentagon sometimes simply stalls on embracing radical
change until the civilian defense secretary promoting it leaves.
"Rumsfeld has been trying for three years now to refocus the services on
the new challenges confronting us," Krepinevich said. "So far these
efforts have met with little success. How much more likely is Rumsfeld
to succeed this time around when the military has a major war on its hands?"
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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