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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

The review of the tragic events of September 11th revealed a number of flaws in the U.S. Defense base and its procurement strategy. For those of you who saw the excellent BBC2 programme on September 1st, the revelations by top commanders that only 4 fighters were available to cover the Capitol on that fateful day was one aspect which honed the minds of the top brass to implement radical changes. The programme gave remarkable coverage to the potential danger facing the U.S. that day with as many as 4500 potential aircraft threats airborne prior to the grounding by the Transportation Secretary. Cheyenne Mountain was operational for the first time in 30 years and the USAF Doomsday Aircraft were ordered aloft.

On January 30th U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave some details about President Bush’s fiscal 2003 defense budget proposals, which the White House plans to release Feb. 4. The President announced a budget request increase of $48bn, the largest since the eighties.

The budget will focus on winning the global war on terrorism, transforming the military, and streamlining the Defense Department, Rumsfeld told reporters this afternoon.

“The new budget is designed to strengthen the armed forces for today’s global war on terror and to better prepare the armed forces for the wars that we may have to face in the period ahead,” Rumsfeld said.

The secretary said the United States can’t afford to wait to transform the military for the threats of the 21st century even as the country continues to wage war on terrorism.

The budget proposal will include resources for precision-guided munitions, missile defense, unmanned vehicles, and “advanced equipment for soldiers on the ground,” he said.

It also provides for programs to better manage the department’s business practices. “It streamlines and retires a number of defense programs that do not fit with our strategy for the 21st century,” Rumsfeld said.

The improvements called for in the 2003 budget were designed “to help us ensure that Americans will be able to live in peace and freedom in the 21st century,” he said.

“The United States will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Bush said.

He continued, “The new budget is designed to help build an armed force that is prepared to contend with surprise — and let there be no doubt, there will be surprises, undoubtedly somewhat different from September 11th, but surely there will be surprises again. There are those who seem to think that all transformation really is to fire some senior military officer or cancel some major weapon system. I read that from time to time. That’s not the case. Transformation is an ongoing process. It is not something that ends; it is a continuum because the world is not static. And it’s a process in which we create an effective fighting force with new ways of thinking, with new culture, and with new ways of fighting and, to be sure, in some instances with new weapon systems and platforms, but also how they are used together, as we’ve seen in Afghanistan.”

On February 4th, President Bush released further details of his 2003 Department of Defense budget. To address these needs, the President’s budget proposes $369bn for DoD plus $10bn, if needed, to fight the war on terrorism – for a total of $379bn.

The roadmap for transformation is the Quadrennial Defense Review, a comprehensive examination of defense priorities. The road test has been the war against terrorism, which has witnessed the integration of horseback warriors with high-tech weapons, confirming the need for transformation while helping shape U.S. priorities.

The 2003 budget balances immediate threats to national security
with the long-term process of military transformation by:

Defending the American People

* Winning the War Against Terro

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