Tags: Two-War | Strategy | Called | Unrealistic

Two-War Strategy Called Unrealistic

Wednesday, 23 May 2001 12:00 AM

For nearly a decade the military has been guided by the requirement of being able to fight two major wars at almost the same time - wars widely understood to be against North Korea and Iraq.

But the reality of what the military has faced is much different from the scenario contemplated in the "two MTW scenario": two "peacekeeping" operations in the Balkans, two no-fly zone enforcement operations in Iraq, numerous humanitarian missions and natural disasters, and periodic military strikes that fall short of war.

"There is no doubt the administration is going to [change that]. They are not satisfied the strategy is in alignment with reality, the way forces are being used," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations.

Magnus called the two-war strategy "not the most likely case but the most dangerous case" at a breakfast meeting with reporters.

"As we move in the 21st century, the administration has to estimate what is the probability of that being the most dangerous scenario or is [there] a new and better way to force, shape and size" the military, Magnus said.

Rumsfeld has directed roughly 24 reviews of Pentagon policies and programs in a largely secret assessment known as "Rumsfeld's review."

Rumsfeld himself has hinted that the two-war strategy would be replaced with something that takes into account the many smaller operations the U.S. military is called on to support.

"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 May 8 at a Pentagon news conference.

President Bush is expected to announce some of Rumsfeld's recommendations in a speech Friday at the Naval Academy.

Magnus said the military strategy is not to be able to fight two wars at once but rather to "shape, respond and prepare" - that is, shape the world environment through active engagement, respond to world events, and prepare for an uncertain future by developing flexible forces and weaponry. The two-war scenario was merely a benchmark against which to size the force - a goal the military was never able to meet, according to Magnus.

"Clearly we did not resource against that strategy," Magnus said.

Indeed, in 1999, when the war in Kosovo began, U.S. forces stationed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey - which would normally carry out no-fly-zone enforcement missions against Iraq - were sent in large numbers to the Balkans to help with the 78-day bombing campaign. No northern no-fly zone enforcement missions were flown for nearly a month.

Rumsfeld met with members of Congress on Wednesday in a series of meetings to discuss his review. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Tuesday that the meetings would not reveal Rumsfeld's recommendations but update Capitol Hill on his methods and progress. Rumsfeld also talked about the much-delayed 2002 defense budget submission to Congress.

Rumsfeld has been criticized for the secretive nature of the reviews and a perceived lack of involvement from Capitol Hill and by the uniformed military.

Magnus disputed those criticisms Wednesday, saying he felt comfortable with the access he has been given.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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For nearly a decade the military has been guided by the requirement of being able to fight two major wars at almost the same time - wars widely understood to be against North Korea and Iraq. But the reality of what the military has faced is much different from the scenario...
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2001-00-23
Wednesday, 23 May 2001 12:00 AM
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