- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asserted yesterday that the armed forces overriding requirement to fight two wars at once "cant be said to be working," and said his staff is now developing a new strategy to counter 21st-century threats.
In testimony before the Senate and House Armed Services committees, Mr. Rumsfeld gave the strongest suggestion to date he plans to dump a requirement that guided the militarys size and direction in the post-Cold War 1990s. His final decision will be included in the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) due to be released to Congress in September.
He testified that an "overused" military was so underfunded the past 10 years that he will likely have to change the two-war capability to free up money to modernize units, build better housing and bolster morale.
"The current strategy cant be said to be working, because of the shortfalls which I have described, so it seems to me we owe it to ourselves to ask the question 'What might be better?" the defense chief said.
"Too much of todays military planning is dominated by what one scholar of Pearl Harbor called 'a poverty of expectations, a routine obsession with a few dangers that may be familiar rather than likely," he added. "A new construct may be appropriate to help us plan for the unfamiliar and increasingly likely threats that we believe well face in the decades ahead."
Gen. Henry H. Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also added: "Weve got too much strategy, too little force structure."
Mr. Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs are now planning to transform the military to meet futuristic threats such as ballistic-missile attacks from "rogue nations," terrorism and attacks on satellites and computer networks.
The military is now sized at 1.36 million active-duty troops based on the 1997 QDR. It has continued a mandate that the military be able to fight two major regional wars nearly simultaneously, most likely on the Korean Peninsula and in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
Pentagon officials told The Washington Times this week that Mr. Rumsfelds staff has come to the conclusion that two-war capability will be replaced with broader language. The officials said that today the military is not funded adequately to maintain a force structure for a current scenario that is viewed as less and less likely to happen.
Changing to a more realistic strategy may allow the Pentagon to cut force structure and close bases, and then use the savings for badly needed weapons and equipment, they said.
Options include a "one war-plus" capability. That would mean the armed forces would be prepared to fight and win a major regional war, while containing another aggressor in place until the conflict ended. The force would also be required to handle a number of smaller conflicts and provide for homeland defense.
Mr. Rumsfeld seems to be favoring this approach. He told the committees any new force-shape requirement must ensure the military can defend this country and maintain troops overseas to deter aggressors. The force, he said, must also "be capable of defeating the efforts of any adversary to achieve its objective by force or coercion" and to repel "attacks in a number of critical areas, and also be capable of conducting a limited number of smaller-scale contingencies."
The defense secretary listed a number of reasons for why the two-war mandate is not working.
"When one examines [the two-war approach] today, several things stand out," he testified. "First, because were underfunded and overused our forces, we find that to meet acceptable levels of risk, were short [an Army] division. Were short of airlift. We have been underfunding aging infrastructure and facilities. … The aircraft fleet is aging. … [T]he Navy is declining in numbers."
Since the Cold War ended, the United States has fought one major regional conflict, the 1991 Persian Gulf war. It has also executed scores of smaller missions, or contingencies, such as periodic bombings of Iraq and air campaigns in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Yugoslavia. These types of contingencies are the ones most likely to occur in the future, Pentagon officials say, not two simultaneous wars.
"Were built for two wars," one official said. "Trouble is, it never happened."
The concept behind maintaining a two-war capability was that a second foe could not take advantage of a preoccupied U.S. military by committing an act of aggression against an American ally or in any region of the world vital to U.S. interests.
Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday received support for changing the strategy from one important senator, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat.
"For some time, I have felt that the so-called two-major-theater-war requirement was outdated," Mr. Levin told Mr. Rumsfeld.

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