T Nation

Rumsfeld's Military Plan

Very interesting – I don’t know about focusing the whole military on this type of thing though – it seems China should more prominently figure into our strategy and future plans. This also seems to continue with the administration’s focus on “rogue states” and how to deal with them.

However, I think it’s very good to try to anticipate the types of future conflicts that seem most probable, and to institutionalize the lessons we’ve been learning in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What do other people think?

Rumsfeld Details
Big Military Shift
In New Document
Drive for Pre-emptive Force,
Wider Influence Will Trigger
Changes in Strategy, Budget

March 11, 2005; Page A1

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld outlines in a new, classified planning document a vision for remaking the military to be far more engaged in heading off threats prior to hostilities and serve a larger purpose of enhancing U.S. influence around the world.

The document sets out Mr. Rumsfeld’s agenda for a recently begun massive review of defense spending and strategy. Because the process is conducted only once every four years, the review represents the Bush administration’s best chance to refashion the military into a force capable of delivering on the ambitious security and foreign-policy goals that President Bush has put forth since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It is being conducted by senior members of Mr. Rumsfeld’s staff along with senior officers from each of the armed services.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s goals, laid out in the document, mark a significant departure from recent reviews. Deeply informed by both the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and by the military’s bloody struggle in Iraq, the document emphasizes newer problems, such as battling terrorists and insurgents, over conventional military challenges.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s approach likely will trigger major shifts in the weapons systems that the Pentagon buys, and even more fundamental changes in the training and deployment of U.S. troops throughout the world, said defense officials who have played a role in crafting the document or are involved in the review.

In the document, Mr. Rumsfeld tells the military to focus on four “core problems,” none of them involving traditional military confrontations. The services are told to develop forces that can: build partnerships with failing states to defeat internal terrorist threats; defend the homeland, including offensive strikes against terrorist groups planning attacks; influence the choices of countries at a strategic crossroads, such as China and Russia; and prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by hostile states and terrorist groups.

“The question we are asking is: How do you prevent problems from becoming crises and crises from becoming all-out conflicts?” said one senior defense official involved in writing the guidance.

At its heart, the document is driven by the belief that the U.S. is engaged in a continuous global struggle that extends far beyond specific battlegrounds, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The vision is for a military that is far more proactive, focused on changing the world instead of just responding to conflicts such as a North Korean attack on South Korea, and assuming greater prominence in countries in which the U.S. isn’t at war.

The document comes early in the review process, which is conducted at the behest of Congress. Each of the military services already has assembled a large staff to craft plans for attacking the key problem areas identified by Mr. Rumsfeld.

When complete, the review will be sent to Congress, likely early next year. Congress doesn’t have a vote on the secretary’s review, which will be used by the administration to guide its decisions on strategy and spending over the next several budget cycles. The review is unlikely to require any major changes in overall defense spending, which is projected to grow through at least 2009.

But it is likely to trigger some nasty political battles, and potentially pose challenges to defense contractors. The core problems outlined in Mr. Rumsfeld’s review, for example, don’t seem to favor the F/A-22 jet, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., which is the Air Force’s top priority. “I think you are likely to see the Air Force push back hard to preserve the F-22,” said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute and a consultant to several of the military services. “Unfortunately, you can’t find a lot of justification for more F/A-22s in the problem sets the services are being asked to address.”

Already, the review is prodding the services to question the need for expensive weapons systems, like short-range fighter jets and naval destroyers and tanks that are used primarily in conventional conflicts. “A big question is exactly how much is enough to win the conventional fights of the future, and where can we shift some resources to some of these less traditional problems,” said one person involved in drafting the guidance.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed a summary of the document and spoke with several officials who contributed to it.

Mr. Rumsfeld has made transforming the military a priority since the Bush administration took power. But in recent years that push took a back seat to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Inside the Pentagon, the review is widely seen as Mr. Rumsfeld’s last big push to instill his views. Many insiders speculate that he will leave early next year when the review is completed; he has repeatedly dismissed all such speculation and refused to comment on his plans.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s guidance pushes the services to rethink the way they fight guerrilla wars and insurgencies. Instead of trying to stamp out an insurgency with large conventional ground formations, the classified guidance urges the military to come up with less doctrinaire solutions that include sending in smaller teams of culturally savvy soldiers to train and mentor indigenous forces.

The U.S. would seek to deploy these troops far earlier in a looming conflict than they traditionally have been to help a tottering government’s armed forces confront guerrillas before an insurgency is able to take root and build popular support. Officials said the plan envisions many such teams operating around the world.

That represents a challenge for a military already stretched thin by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There aren’t currently enough of these specially trained soldiers and Marines to make the strategy work.

In the past decade, the U.S. military has shied away from helping allies battle internal threats out of concern that U.S. forces would get mired in endless internal conflicts. Instead, the military has focused on helping allies ward off cross-border aggression by selling them higher-end weapon systems.

But the new plan envisions more active U.S. involvement, resembling recent military aid missions to places like Niger and Chad, where the U.S. is dispatching teams of ground troops to train local militaries in basic counterinsurgency tactics. Future training missions, however, would likely be conducted on a much broader scale, one defense official said.

Of the military’s services, the Marines Corps right now is moving fastest to fill this gap and is looking at shifting some resources away from traditional amphibious-assault missions to new units designed specifically to work with foreign forces. To support these troops, military officials are looking at everything from acquiring cheap aerial surveillance systems to flying gunships that can be used in messy urban fights to come to the aid of ground troops. One “dream capability” might be an unmanned AC-130 gunship that could circle an area at relatively low altitude until it is needed, then swoop in to lay down a withering line of fire, said a defense official.

The shift is reminiscent of the situation in the early 1900s, when Marines fought a series of small wars in Central America and were frequently referred to as the “State Department’s soldiers.”

At the same time the U.S. military re-equips itself to deal with low-tech insurgent threats, it also is seeking to dissuade rising powers, such as China, from challenging U.S. military dominance. Although weapons systems designed to fight guerrillas tend to be fairly cheap and low-tech, the review makes clear that to dissuade those countries from trying to compete, the U.S. military must retain its dominance in key high-tech areas, such as stealth technology, precision weaponry and manned and unmanned surveillance systems.

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com

This is a critical area for defense going forward.

At present we have an overwhelming lead in all areas of the battlefield. Up to and including space. Rummy is advocating a huge radical shift that may cede the advantage, in certain areas, to the enemy. Maybe…maybe not.

I think the advantage of superior weapons systems, particularly heavy weapons is important. Take for example. The M-1 Abrams. I am very familiar with this particular weapons system. It commanded the battlefield in GW1. Nothing could touch it. In the Second Iraqi war it led the charge into Baghdad. Again nothing can touch it. An occasional mine or very lucky shot with a souped up RPG may disable it but those tanks are usally back in action in a week or so. You don’t need all that armor all the time but when you need it…you need it bad. You can’t up armor a striker to that level. However, an Abrams can always lead the charge thru hostile territory. You can pack a lot of offensive capability into a light vehicle but nobody ever faced a squad of M-1’s and walked away bragging about it.

I respect Rummy’s vision and outlook and admire the man. I also think what he is advocating is as important as any reorganization the military has ever planned. Let’s hope this is well though out. Developing and building major weapons systems takes a decade. We don’t want to spot the Chinese a decade. We will not get a do over.

Any particular reason you “admire” Rumsfeld? This is a guy who has quite possibly done more to hurt the U.S. military, and especially the Army, than Bill Clinton. (And I did and do wholeheartedly support the war in Iraq).

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Any particular reason you “admire” Rumsfeld? This is a guy who has quite possibly done more to hurt the U.S. military, and especially the Army, than Bill Clinton. (And I did and do wholeheartedly support the war in Iraq).[/quote]

What is it that Rumsfeld has done that surpasses Clinton’s gutting of the military? His swagger isn’t harmful to the military - it just pisses folks off.

Other than making the Army wear those stupid berets, what specifically has he done to the Army to invoke the name of Clinton?

Clinton certainly gutted the military, even if that was a process begun by Cheney, and his administration was asleep at the wheel for eight years. The Somalia pullout was a disgrace.

My problem with Rumsfeld is not his swagger, even though that’s obnoxious and unbefitting of someone in his position. It’s not him antagonizing the Euros, I could care less about that, it’s the general arrogance. The guy doesn’t even have the class to turn the autopen off and sign letters to the families of slain soldiers himself.

But that’s not the real issue, his attitude is completely secondary to his agenda. His “transformation” of the military, the much-vaunted “Revolution in Military Affairs,” has been a very mixed blessing for the U.S. Army, especially as it fights in Iraq and prepares to fight perhaps decades of similar small wars. The idea of a digital battlefield in which the commander sees all and hears all thanks to American technological supremacy is unrealistic and in fact dangerous. It brings to mind Robert McNamara’s plan to scan the jungles of South Vietnam for urine by airplane to find the Vietcong. Unmanned aerial vehicles and precision-guided munitions are of pretty limited use in fighting an insurgency like Iraq’s; if you think smart bombs don’t kill civilians you’re kidding yourself.

Even worse, because so much effort and money is expended on this misguided RMA agenda, the U.S. Army is far too small for the missions it has and in all likelihood will have. Who’s the most powerful American politician who is unequivocally opposed to increasing the size of the U.S. Army? If you guessed Don Rumsfeld, you are correct. Despite the fact that the Army is dangerously overstretched, it took a weak-kneed Democrat like John Kerry to bring the issue of Army enlargement to the fore. While things may be looking up in Iraq, the fact remains that there will be consequences of our unpreparedness for the counter-insurgency campaign. They will probably fall on the Guard and the Reserves more than the Army. There’s a reason retention rates in the Guard and Reserves are dropping through the floor: those guys didn’t sign on for a slow, grinding guerrilla war halfway around the world. They joined up to provide disaster relief, provide a manpower reserve, and serve in combat in the case of a national emergency. Because of the U.S. Army being too small, there is very little of a true “reserve” left. While it may be wise to get unneeded units out of Germany and maybe South Korea, a few months back they were even sending training battalions from the U.S., who perform an incredibly valuable function by simulating American enemies, over to Iraq, because we are stretched so thin. This is directly attributable to not only the Bush (Senior) and Clinton defense cuts, but also and perhaps equally to the policies of Donald Rumsfeld.

And that’s not even mentioning the Tora Bora fiasco or the decision to invade Iraq with much less force than initally planned for, both of which are far more debatable than the effects of the rest of Rumsfeld’s decisions.

Well the most important thing he has done has focused the leadership of the military on fighting the next war instead of the last one. He also eliminated Cold War battle systems that were no longer needed.

Getting the military to change anything is near impossible. Rummy tackled the problem and was not intimidated by the Generals. Current or past.

The big cuts came during the Clinton years. Right or wrong Rummy dealt with the issues. That earns him admiration from me. Many people don’t. It’s easier to complain then to act, particularly in the govt.

Um, no, that’s the point, that contrary to what the Journal article said, most of Rumsfeld’s policies have actually been counterproductive in terms of winning the next war. And there’s a difference between being unintimidated and being openly hated by most of the people that work for you.

Rummy may be a first class prick, but he is right much more often than not.

He is dealing with an Army leadership full of MBA type assholes trying to protect their turf.

None of us has any idea what is really happening behind closed doors, but Rummys ideas are generally correct.

It is very easy to throw stones but harder to come up with real alternatives.

Of course they hate him. He is messing with the big cookie jar they covet.

In the 30’s most Admiral’s believed a battleship was the key to naval dominance. Fortunately we didn’t listen to them either and built carriers.

The military is visionary. They need people who are. Rummy is.

I too think the Army is understaffed. Combat positions are filled it is the support roles that go begging. That is more due to a strong economy then anything else. More outsourcing to follow. That’s not always a bad thing.

I’d take Rummy as Sec. of defense over just about anyone else in the last 30 yrs.




I don’t agree with any of these sites completely, for a variety of reasons, but taken together, they begin to show why the Rumsfeld Pentagon has done so much wrong, and helped dull the success of the President’s historic foreign policy agenda.