Rumsfeld Questions Two War Strategy

ByABC News
June 21, 2001, 6:05 PM

June 21 -- The Pentagon's "two war" strategy has outlived its usefulness, leaving the United States ill-prepared for emerging threats like ballistic missiles and cyberattack, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress today.

"The current strategy is not working, so we owe it to ourselves to ask: What might be better?" Rumsfeld said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. He made a similar presentation to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It was Rumsfeld's first public testimony to congressional panels since he took office in January. Some Senate panelists had complained that Rumsfeld was keeping them in the dark, although most applauded him today.

We've 'Skimped on Our People'

The U.S. defense strategy, in place for 10 years, is to maintain the capability to win two "major theater wars" like the 1991 Gulf War at nearly the same time. The idea is to have enough combat forces to sustain a conflict in the Persian Gulf, with enough in reserve to dissuade North Korea, for example, from starting a conflict with South Korea.

Rumsfeld said this approach worked well during the 1990s but hasbeen undermined by a lack of investment in the advanced militarytechnologies needed to meet emerging threats. He also said thePentagon had "skimped on our people, doing harm to their trust andconfidence."

Rumsfeld said the Defense Department has sketched the generaloutlines of a new defense strategy and hopes to present it to theWhite House for President Bush's approval by late summer. It isbeing closely examined now by a civilian-military team of expertsas part of a broad defense review, he said.

More Focus on Future Threats

He used the broadest terms to describe the new strategy, sayingit would focus more on future threats, while defending the UnitedStates against current threats like terrorism and nuclear, chemicaland biological weapons.

It also would enable the United States to maintain forces abroad capable of defeating any adversary, repelling attacks in "a number of critical areas," and conducting a limited number of smaller-scale military missions.