- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2001

Columnist Frank J. Gaffney Jr. argues that the Bush administration should review Pentagon policies based on the assumption that America's military should be prepared to “deal with two, nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts” (“The defense we need,” Commentary, March 27).

This is the wrong way to go. Any sensible analysis of Pentagon strategy should begin with an evaluation of the threats our military must confront. Appropriate strategies and force structures should then be designed to counter these threats.

As President Bush's Pentagon review reportedly has concluded, there is at present no threat or combination of threats that justifies America´s costly strategy of preparing for two simultaneous wars. This is the same conclusion that was drawn by the congressionally mandated National Defense Panel in 1999.

America could meet any military challenge if we replaced the two-war strategy with a “one-war-plus” strategy involving preparations for one major regional war and a concurrent Bosnia-type operation.

Guided by such a strategy, America could make rational decisions about weapons procurement and troop deployments.

For example, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reportedly understands, building more $6 billion large-deck aircraft carriers makes no military sense in today´s geopolitical environment; neither does procuring $200 million short-range fighter aircraft and heavy armored vehicles.

The key question is whether Congress will support the reforms likely to be proposed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld.

If congressional leaders cannot find the courage to help Mr. Bush pass modest Pentagon reforms, they will be doing a disservice to our military, whose budget is so squeezed by expensive Cold War weapons procurements and policies that the basic weapons and training it needs to defend America are not being supplied adequately.


LAWRENCE J. KORB

Director of studies

Council on Foreign Relations

New York

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