Why Now?
Sunday, December 12, 2004
  What Hath Rumsfeld Wrought?

I've been trying to discern the pattern in Rumsfeld's vision for the military, and I've been able to pull a few threads out of the knot based on weapons systems and organizational changes he's moving towards.

Rumsfeld is creating a military force for peacekeeping missions, brigade-sized operational units of a few thousand with light armor capable of being deployed rapidly.

He is building on the basis of the Stryker brigades currently training in the Army.

He is downplaying heavy armor and artillery, and is attempting to replace them with aircraft.

He wants to replace all of the military support personnel with civilians and contractors.

He is stressing reliance on equipment: unmanned drones, robots, satellites, etc.

It's an interesting concept that eliminates a lot of overhead, like pensions and benefits after 20 years of service for non-combat specialties. He wants to eliminate base schools and commissaries. It reflects his experience in the business world: cut costs by reducing employee benefits, the Wal-Mart model.

This is a vision for the military in a post-Cold War world with little prospect of a major land war.

There are a couple of things wrong with this concept and his continuing pursuit of it: George W. Bush and the Iraq War. He needs the resources that he has been dismantling, and civilians can't supply support services in a live fire area. "Just-in time" inventory control doesn't work when your trucks and warehouses are subject to being blown up.

He planned for a quick war and a cut back to a peacekeeping operation, and that didn't happen. What happened is exactly what his military staff told him would happen, but he ignored them because if they were so smart they wouldn't be wearing uniforms and receiving such piddling salaries.

He had to be forced to order the body armor, the ammunition, the armored Humvees, the upgrade kits for the Humvees and trucks, because his plan said the war would be over shortly and they didn't fit in his vision for the new "corporate" military.

He didn't plan for the occupation, the wounded, the equipment loss, or the manpower requirements and now he's throwing patches on problems.

If they start recalling the people discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", you'll know the draft is coming.

Consider this intriguing situation: Congress has been giving the Department of Defense hundreds of billions of dollars, but Rumsfeld isn't spending it on the military. The Defense Department initially blocked the Intelligence Reform Bill which transfers some budget control from the Department of Defense to a new Director of Intelligence. Exactly how big is Rumsfeld's "slush fund", and what is he planning to do with it?


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