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Obama’s DoD Prescription: More Rumsfeld


Barack Obama says he represents “the change we need”. Looking beyond the slogan and into actual policy guidance offered by Obama, I see old prescriptions rather than new ideas. Barry’s plan for national defense seems to resonate strongly with the past.

From Obama’s campaign website:

• Rebuild the Military for 21st Century Tasks: As we rebuild our armed forces, we must not simply recreate the military of the Cold War era. Obama and Biden believe that we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats.

Where have I heard this before? Here’s Donald Rumsfeld in 2001, testifying at his second confirmation hearing (to become Secretary of Defense) before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

He told the senators that the world is a different and more peaceful one with the Soviet Union gone, "but it is nonetheless a dangerous and untidy world."

"We also know that the power of weapons today is vastly greater than it was in earlier eras, and we know that with the relaxation of tension at the end of the Cold War the proliferation of these capabilities is pervasive," he said.

Rumsfeld said the world is entering the "era of globalization." He said while it is a hopeful time it is also full of challenges. One main challenge he needs to address, he said, is "the challenge of bringing the American military successfully into the 21st century so that it can continue to play its truly vital role in preserving and extending peace as far into the future as is possible."

"First, we must strengthen the bond of trust with the American military," Rumsfeld said. "The brave and dedicated men and women who serve in our country's uniform -- active, Guard and Reserve -- must get the best support their country can possibly provide them so that we can continue to call on the best people in the decades to come."

Second, the United States must develop capabilities to defend against missiles and terrorism, and newer threats aimed against space assets and information systems. "The American people, our forces abroad and our friends and allies must be protected against the threats which modern technology and its proliferation confront us," he said.

Third, DoD must take advantage of the new possibilities that the ongoing technological revolution offers to create the military of the next century.

Rumsfeld said one of his first duties, if confirmed, would be to order a comprehensive review of U.S. defense policy. This would be in addition to the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review.

"This review will be aimed at making certain that we have a sound understanding of the state of the U.S. forces and their readiness to meet the 21st century security environment," he said. "We need to ensure that we will be able to develop and deploy and operate and support a highly effective force capable of deterring and defending against new threats. This will require a refashioning of deterrence and defense capabilities.

Rumsfeld went on to outline five objectives for the Department of Defense:

  • Deter spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Assure readiness and sustainability of deployed forces
  • Modernize U.S. command, control, communications, intelligence and space capabilities
  • Speed R&D and deployment of new systems
  • Reform obsolete DoD organization and hierarchy

For comparison, here are more of Obama’s defense promises:

  • Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face
  • Review Weapons Programs
  • Preserve Global Reach in the Air
  • Maintain Power Projection at Sea
  • National Missile Defense
  • Ensure Freedom of Space
  • Protect the U.S in Cyberspace
  • Integrate Military and Civilian Efforts

If anything, Barry has expanded on Rumsfeld’s program. Perhaps Joe Biden, the ticket’s foreign policy and defense expert, “borrowed” the policy ideas from Rummy?

I suspect that large faction of Obama supporters who want peace, and to “bring the troops home”, would be uncomfortable with Barry’s prescriptions. Change, in this case, is more troops more able to intervene in more situations around the world. It’s not just Rumsfeld Redux, it’s Rumsfeld Plus!

This is one of several reasons I am convinced that most Obama voters have not examined their candidate with brains engaged. Recognizing such evidence would surely diminish the “transformational euphoria” surrounding Barry’s campaign.