How Will New War Change Defense Policies?

By Stone, Ben; Thompson, Steve | National Defense, November 2001 | Go to article overview
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How Will New War Change Defense Policies?

Stone, Ben, Thompson, Steve, National Defense

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the urgency of transforming U.S. forces to prepare for 21st century warfare became palpable. Indeed, the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in many ways, changed the rules of war, and the president responded with a focused, resolute call-to-arms to the American people, informing them that fighting terrorism will not be a short-term struggle.

For today's generation of young adults, the war on terrorists is likely to be the rough equivalent of what the Cold War was for "baby-boomers." But it will be characterized by a country united in outrage and buttressed with worldwide support that has only strengthened as a result of these attacks.

At press time, much was unknown. How would retaliation rake place? How would the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the budgets for 2002 and 2003 be affected? How would the new Office of Homeland Security work with the Defense Department? And how would all of this affect the defense industry?

Will the administration continue to support another round of base closures? Will the new focus on homeland defense undercut the two-war strategy? Should we lift the historic ban on the use of military forces for domestic law enforcement? Are we prepared to surge the production capacities of parts of the defense industrial base?

Before September 11, there was some doubt that Congress would approve the additional $18.4 billion that President Bush requested for national defense. But now it is certain that this amount and more will be enacted.

In fact, $20 billion of the $40 billion emergency supplemental funding provided in the wake of the attacks will be allocated in the 2002 appropriations bills. The $343.5 billion defense budget requested before September 11 will serve as a floor--not a ceiling--as Congress rushes to provide the men and women in uniform with tools to confront the nations enemies during the long struggle ahead.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was criticized roundly by some elements within his own department, as well as by members of Congress, for his handling of the military services and Capitol Hill. Now, however, he looks almost prescient, because of a number of studies that he chartered before beginning the QDR.

One of these studies, on crisis management, positioned him well to confront the unexpected when it became reality. And, though he may not have addressed dealing with the loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al-Qaeda head-on, it is clear that by allocating the department's initial supplemental appropriation to intelligence operations, he took precisely the correct first step toward engaging an amorphous enemy.

Rumsfeld reviewed one topic that quickly will guide his dealings with industry, and that is acquisition reform. Though there have been more than 100 such studies since the department's creation, this secretary especially is committed to improving efficiencies. He testified on Capitol Hill that the department should be able to achieve a 5-percent savings, across the board, through management improvements.

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