Sgt. Sara Wood, USA / Defense Link – 2006-02-17 10:11:56
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2006 – In the face of the dispersed, ever-changing threat posed by terrorists, the only way to protect the American people is to give the military a wide range of options and capabilities, top defense officials told a House of Representatives committee here today.
In the war on terror, the US is facing an enemy unlike any it has seen before — one that is spread out, uses nontraditional means and employs terror, lies and atrocity to achieve its goals, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a hearing of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
“In a few short years, they’ve become experts at manipulating the media globally to inspire and to intimidate,” Rumsfeld said. “Their priority is to force us to abandon Iraq before that country is ready to defend itself so they can turn it into a base of operations, as was the case in Afghanistan before (Sept. 11, 2001).”
To defeat this enemy, the military is shifting emphasis from practices of the past, and the Quadrennial Defense Review and fiscal 2007 budget request reflect that shift, Rumsfeld said.
The military is more than doubling the budget since 2001 for special operations forces and adding a new Marine Corps component, which will make the special operations forces the largest they’ve been in decades, he said. Also, the military is elevating the role of intelligence, increasing its capacity to find terrorists, he said.
“In the future, we’re going to have to be much better able to ascertain where the enemy’s going next, rather than where the enemy has been,” Rumsfeld said. “It was a relatively easy thing to go out and look for the Soviet air force, navy or army. They stayed basically where they were, and you could get to understand it. In this case, these people don’t have countries to defend. They don’t have bureaucracies, and it’s a much more difficult task.”
Rumsfeld said the president’s request for 2006 supplemental appropriations would be submitted today and will include $65.3 billion to cover the incremental cost of fighting the global war on terror. Included in the supplemental request will be money to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi security forces, counter the threat of improvised explosive devices, continue the transformation of the Army, and repair or replace damaged and lost equipment, he said.
The resources provided by Congress are essential to the success of the armed forces, and the level of cooperation between civilian and military leadership has ensured that this year’s budget is accurate and will be effective, said Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I can sit here and tell you categorically that your armed forces are fully capable of executing every part of your National Military Strategy, and that this budget supports prosecuting the war on terror, accelerating transformation, enhancing joint war-fighting, and improving the quality of life of our troops and their families,” Pace said.
The war on terror will be a long war, and key to success is sustaining the all-volunteer military and recognizing the value of the men and women’s service, Pace said. A key element in sustaining this force is maintaining the superb military health care system, he said. The cost of health care has risen dramatically in the past few years, he said, and so changes to the Tricare system included in the QDR are essential to ensure servicemembers continue to receive the highest quality care.
Amid the talk of numbers and metrics that always accompanies the budget request, Rumsfeld said, it is important not to lose sight of what that budget is supporting – the men and women serving in today’s military.
“They are all volunteers,” he said. “They could be doing something much easier, safer and better compensated, but they step forward each year to raise their hand and say, ‘Send me.’ They do so fully aware of the risks, and justifiably proud of the history that they are making.”
The United States is facing a long conflict, and there will be struggles ahead, but with the tools given it by Congress, the military can and will persevere and prevail, Rumsfeld said.
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