Gov. George W. Bush of Texas yesterday proposed sweeping changes in the armed forces, proposing that some weapons under development should be scrapped in favor of futuristic ones, and that massive land forces must become "smaller, more agile formations."
In his first detailed speech on what he would do as commander in chief, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination next year said military spending would increase in his presidency. More money would go for paychecks, housing, weapons research and training. These positions have been embraced already by congressional Republicans.
But his remarks on remaking the 1.37 million-strong armed forces marked a sharp departure from thinking in his own party, as well as in the Clinton administration, the Pentagon and the defense industry.
"Today, our military is still organized more for Cold War threats than for the challenges of a new century," he told students at The Citadel at Charleston, the military academy of South Carolina. "The last seven years have been wasted in inertia and idle talk."
Four major post-Cold War reviews by the George Bush and Clinton administrations have reaffirmed the need for a force modeled closely after the Soviet-era military, while smaller in size. Some political appointees have tried to create such a policy revolution inside the Pentagon, but encountered stiff opposition from turf-defending senior officers.
Mr. Bush said he would take on the status quo, ordering top-to-bottom changes, especially in the Army, most of whose 10 active divisions remain equipped for large land battles.
"On land, our heavy forces must be lighter," said Mr. Bush, who once was a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. "Our light forces must be more lethal. All must be easier to deploy. And these forces must be organized in smaller, more agile formations, rather than cumbersome divisions."
Mr. Bush warned weapons procurers that systems now being developed may be shoved aside to allow a "leap forward" in technology.
"The real goal is to move beyond marginal improvements - to replacing existing programs with new technologies and strategies," he said.
Condoleezza Rice, a national security adviser in the administration of Mr. Bush's father and a key consultant to the son's campaign, said the fact that no country now rivals the U.S. militarily provides the opportunity to delay buying new systems while more futuristic ones are developed.
Miss Rice declined to identify specific weapons, and declined to endorse buying the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-22 stealth bomber beyond the six proposed in next year's budget.
Richard Armitage, a Pentagon official in the previous Bush administration and another campaign adviser, said systems or upgrades that may be canceled would be ones that "are difficult to deploy" or "in which we have a significant lead."
His description seems to fit programs such as upgrades to the Army's M1A1 Abrams battle tank or the F-22 Raptor fighter plane. …