American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2004 – If approved, the U.S. military will bring back 70,000 servicemembers and 100,000 family members and DoD civilians from bases overseas, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
The transfer is part of the proposed changes to the U.S. military’s global posture. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers discussed the changes.
Rumsfeld put the restructuring in perspective for the senators. He said rearranging U.S. global posture is an integral part of “undertakings essential to transforming our military into a more agile and efficient force.”
The secretary said it is part and parcel with transformation of the military along with increasing the joint capabilities, the lethality and the agility of the military. Another part of this transformation is the rebalancing between active and reserve forces, he said.
From a basing point of view, Rumsfeld said, little has changed for the last 50 years. “It’s as if, for example, Germany is still bracing for a Soviet tank invasion across the north German plain,” he said.
In South Korea, U.S. troops are based in the same camps and locations as they were when the armistice was designed in 1953, Myers said.
Rumsfeld said U.S. troops should be “in places where they’re wanted, places where they are welcomed and where they’re needed.”
In some areas – such as Okinawa, Japan, or Seoul, South Korea – U.S. forces become an irritant to local governments, Rumsfeld said.
At the same time, the United States has built new relationships with countries involved in the global war on terror, the secretary said. He said the United States has worked well with the countries of Central Asia and developed strong partnerships with the countries of Eastern Europe.
“We believe it makes sense to work out arrangements with countries that are interested in the presence of the U.S. and which are in closer proximity to the regions of the world where our troops are more likely to be needed in the future,” Rumsfeld pointed out.
American troops also should be in places from which they can deploy. U.S. troops in Europe that deployed to Iraq, ended up taking the long way around when Austria denied permission to cross its territory, for example. “U.S. soldiers may be called to a variety of locations to engage extremists on short notice we need to be able to deploy them to trouble spots quickly,” he said.
The readjustment also must take advantage of the new capabilities of the U.S. military. “In this century we are shifting away from a tendency to equate sheer numbers of things – troops, bombs, tanks – with capability,” Rumsfeld said. Precision bombs allow one aircraft to kill a number of targets, rather than the old paradigm of a number of planes dropping dumb bombs to take out one target.
Rumsfeld said the main operating bases will be consolidated, but retained. “In Asia our idea is built on the current ground air and naval access to overcome vast distances, while bringing forward other assets to the region,” he said.
In Europe, the United States will deploy more flexible and agile ground forces and beefed up special operations forces. They will deploy to other regions as needed, he indicated.
“In the broader Middle East we propose to maintain what we call warm facilities for rotational forces and contingency purposes,” the secretary said. The United States will build on the cooperation and access provided by host nations during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
“In Africa and the western hemisphere, we envision a diverse array of smaller cooperative security locations for security access,” he said.
Both Rumsfeld and Myers said the moves will also make life easier for servicemembers and their families. Once in place, deployments should be shorter and less frequent. Families should move less during a military career.
“This plan is in the best interest of national security and our troops,” Myers said. “This plan will leave us better positioned to engage with our allies and promote regional stability and better positioned to prevail in combat when war cannot be prevented.”