Tags: Rumsfeld | Considers | 'Peacekeeping' | Force

Rumsfeld Considers 'Peacekeeping' Force

Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM

At a press conference Tuesday to announce an unrelated reshuffling of duties in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took a few questions about his secretive, ongoing review of military strategy and programs.

Asked whether he planned to continue a decade-long practice of sizing the military to be able to fight two wars at once, Rumsfeld said the reality of what the military faces every day is quite different and suggested those duties might be used to structure the force.

It "links directly to readiness. It links to requirements as to what kinds of equipment and capabilities you need. And it is very complicated. It is not mysterious," he said.

He pointed out that large parts of the Army were sent to Bosnia to carry out peacekeeping duties, and then the Army was criticized when those units war-readiness ratings dropped because they were unable to practice combat skills.

"So the question comes, mightn't we want to size our forces also for some other things, like a Bosnia or a Kosovo, or a noncombatant evacuation in some country, or maybe one or two or three of those things?" Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a news conference.

But candidate Bush told enthusiastic audiences he thought the United States military should concentrate on preparing for war and let its allies handle operations other than war.

We "will not be permanent peacekeepers, dividing warring parties," he said in a 1999 speech at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

Bush's comments evoked a firestorm in Europe, which provides 85 percent of the Balkans' "peacekeeping" force. Bush vowed not to withdraw troops without consulting with them first.

One of his first tasks in office was to order a review of all troop deployments to see which ones might be brought home from overseas missions. That review is still incomplete.

It is wrapped into a much larger review that Rumsfeld is heading regarding the right missions, size and equipment for the armed forces.

But Tuesday Rumsfeld disputed the accuracy of a report in the Washington Post Monday that said Rumsfeld would be abandoning the decade-long strategy that said the armed forces should be able to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major theater wars - such as one in Iraq and one on the Korean peninsula.

He said he had not yet arrived at any conclusions.

"I am very sincerely trying to figure out what I ought to think about these things, and I'm getting smart people from all around; inside the government, outside the government, in the Congress, in uniform, out of uniform, and talking about these issues, not to tell them what's going to happen, but to try to figure out what I think maybe ought to happen," Rumsfeld said.

"Some people think I arrived in this job from the pharmaceutical business with a head full of plans ready to bring out; unwrap the cellophane package and hand them over to the Pentagon. I didn't," he said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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At a press conference Tuesday to announce an unrelated reshuffling of duties in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took a few questions about his secretive, ongoing review of military strategy and programs. Asked whether he planned to continue a decade-long...
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2001-00-08
Tuesday, 08 May 2001 12:00 AM
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