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US military rethinking two-war strategy - officials

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-07-05T202737Z_01_N05149501_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-SECURITY-USA-WARS-DC.XML US
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2005
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      http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-07-05T202737Z_01_N05149501_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-SECURITY-USA-WARS-DC.XML

      US military rethinking two-war strategy - officials
      Tue Jul 5, 2005 4:27 PM ET

      By Charles Aldinger

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military, under stress
      from fighting in Iraq and protecting America from
      terrorism, is debating whether it can remain ready to
      fight two big wars at once, according to defense
      officials.

      The discussion is part of a broad Quadrennial Defense
      Review (QDR), in which the Pentagon will propose a new
      strategy and budget to Congress next February to shape
      the superpower's forces for years to come.

      The civilian and military officials, who asked not to
      be identified, confirmed a report in Tuesday's New
      York Times that top Defense Department planners were
      challenging longstanding strategy that requires the
      armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at
      once.

      Instead, the newspaper reported, they are weighing
      whether to shape the military to mount only one major
      conventional war while devoting more resources to
      defending U.S. territory and to global antiterrorism
      efforts in the wake of the 2001 attacks on America.

      "The QDR debate on two wars is over risks. Risks can
      translate into lives," one senior military official,
      who asked not to be identified, told Reuters on
      Tuesday.

      "The questions being debated: Are we really trying to
      create a one-war strategy and build a force to it? Or
      are we just changing the strategy because we know what
      we can realistically afford to spend?" the official
      said.

      He and others said Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, who
      will soon become chairman of the Pentagon's military
      Joint Chiefs of Staff, was pushing the war-readiness
      debate because of growing U.S. military missions
      worldwide burden and the cost of anti-terrorism
      operations at home and overseas.

      A senior Army officer noted that many of the more than
      1,700 U.S. troops who lost their lives in Iraq died
      because the military had not anticipated the need to
      spend hundreds of millions of dollars on armor to
      protect military vehicles against improvised explosive
      devices.

      BULLET-PROOF VESTS

      Another official noted that extra money is being spent
      on bullet-proof vests for guerrilla warfare in Iraq
      and Afghanistan.

      "If you have to spend that kind of money in phase four
      (the cleanup) of one war, how much will it cost to
      prepare the military to be ready in all areas for two
      wars," the official said.

      Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, suggested
      to reporters on Tuesday that the two-wars issue was
      among a wide range of subjects under discussion. But
      he refused to go into detail and stressed that no
      decisions had been made.

      "I don't have any quarrel with what was written there"
      Whitman said of the Times article, based in part on an
      interview with Ryan Henry, principal deputy U.S. under
      secretary of defense for policy.

      Senior Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita denied in a
      later Defense Department briefing on Tuesday that top
      officials were leaning toward changing the two-war
      strategy.

      "They (the talks) have no desired outcome" so far, he
      said.

      But the Times stressed that the debate reflected a
      growing recognition that the current burden of
      maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with
      the other demands of the global campaign against
      terrorism, may force a change in assumptions that have
      been a foundation of military planning.

      One Navy official told Reuters that, even if the
      United States can no longer fight two wars at once,
      publicly backing away from the strategy was risky
      because it might tempt potential adversaries China,
      North Korea and Iran.

      "If we say that we can only do one and then we get
      engaged in one that's not on the horizon now, does
      that offer North Korea, China or Iran a chance to say
      'Well, they're going to be engaged for five years,
      that gives me a leeway with what I want to do because
      they don't have the force structure for two major
      combat operations'," the official said.

      © Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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