Proposals by the International Herald Tribune
1. Increase active-duty soldiers by 100,000
2. Focus on real threats….to the U.S. (Chinese attack on Taiwan, North Korean attack on South Korea, islamic coup in Saudi Arabia), not on terrorism
3. Allow gay people to serve in the military forces and promote women participation in combat.
Lead article of the International Herald Tribune, 12 July 2005
In just a few months, the Pentagon will complete its most important military planning exercise, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has a chance to act boldly in applying the hard lessons of the past four years. He should insist that his planners propose the radical revisions in strategy and force structure that America’s security now demands, and should be prepared to face down fierce resistance from service chiefs who do not want their budgets cut and military contractors that do not want their profits reduced.
The planning document in question is called the quadrennial defense review, and it is supposed to evaluate the most likely threats to America’s security, develop a strategy for responding to these dangers and allocate the necessary resources among the nation’s four uniformed services.
The last time one was drafted, four summers ago, few people imagined that the most imminent threat came not from any rival state but from an international network of terrorists. Rumfeld scrambled to update the document in the weeks after Sept. 11. But it remained a relic of a bygone era driven by notions of in-and-out ground combat, aerial dogfights, high-tech naval fighting and ballistic missile defense. These doctrines of the late 20th century proved badly mismatched to early-21st-century realities.
The price for this mismatch is evidence in Iraq, where the burden of fighting has fallen on army and marine ground forces neither large enough nor adequately equipped for a long-term occupation in a hostile environment. The results have been devastating. Army recruitment is in an acute crisis, and reserve units are tapped out.
The starting points of the new military review must be the real threats most likely to confront the United States over the next few years…[…]
These begin with protecting the nation and vital U.S. interests abroad, and helping NATO partners and other strategic allies, like Israel, defend themselves against foreign foes, international terrorists or some combination of the two. The military must also be prepared to take a strong role in internationally coordinated enforcement actions against rogue states and participate in multilateral peacekeeping and nation-building activities where America’s own concerns are involved.
The list of realistically possible – even if they might seem unlikely – contingencies over the next few years ought to include a mainland Chinese attack on Taiwan, a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan, a takeover by Al Qaeda of Saudi Arabia’s government and oil reserves and a coup by terrorist-linked forces in nuclear-armed Pakistan.
To better cope with Iraq and Afghanistan and prepare for other potentical crises, the numbers of the active-duty army should be increased by about 100,000. The new recruits should be attracted in part by ending senseless and offensive restrictions on openly gay people serving in the military and on women serving in combat.