Yesterday’s USA Today featured an op-ed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
A post-9/11 world has required the U.S. military to make many changes – changes that weren’t contemplated in the heady years of the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War. For example, today the department is buying more Predator aircraft and more precision munitions than anyone thought would be needed before 9/11.
Working with Congress, the department canceled at least two multibillion-dollar Cold War-era Army weapons systems: the Crusader artillery system and the Comanche helicopter. Undoubtedly, others will be considered. Any changes will most likely be opposed by special interests wedded to their systems, but nonetheless, we must continue to shift resources so we will be more adept at meeting today’s challenges.
Also, during successive decades of national security policymaking, the government decided that it made sense to place large percentages of our war-fighting capability into the reserve component of the armed forces. What may have made sense during the Cold War makes less sense today, when it is clear that we need more of those skills – such as military police, logisticians, civil affairs specialists – as part of the active force. The fact is, with some 2.4 million Americans serving in some uniformed capacity (active, Guard and Reserve), it is not that we have too little military personnel, but rather that the skill sets are not well apportioned among active, Guard and Reserve forces for today’s needs.