Jewish World Review August 24, 2004 / 7 Elul, 5764

Peter R. Huessy

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Moving troops enhances U.S. mobility in war on terror


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | President Bush's bold proposal to redeploy some 70,000 U.S. troops from East Asia and Western Europe is a win-win situation from virtually every vantage point.

It's good for American taxpayers, it's good for military morale and it's good for our allies.

Most important, it's good for national security at a time when quick-strike mobility - rather than a outmoded Cold War set-piece strategy - is vital in fighting a war against shadowy terrorist cells lurking in many countries across the globe.

Bush has proposed moving upwards of some 70,000 American soldiers from East Asia and Western Europe over the next decade. These soldiers will probably involve heavy armor divisions stationed in Germany as well as some forces from the Republic of Korea and Okinawa. The U.S. bedrock of deterrence will remain, of course, reinforced by the our nuclear umbrella and our forces still stationed in those areas - especially with respect to the still emanating threat from the North Korea capital of Pyongyang.

A very large number of retired U.S. military combat veterans, including seven generals and three admirals with a combined 350 years of service, have endorsed the administration's proposals. They and other experts note the war against the so-called international jihadists will require an agile and flexible military - an objective that certainly will be enhanced by the president's proposed reforms. It's comforting to note a bipartisan consensus developing - highlighted Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's recent remark that a thoughtful reform might very well include some movement of U.S. forces from Germany and Korea.

While our military is currently grappling with its full and complete role in Iraq, a key element of any effective strategy in the future will be to act prior to attacks. That likely means preemptive moves that preserve the stability of friendly governments while undermining the terror masters, rogue regimes, and terrorism's private financiers.

Even major organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, generally reflexively against U.S. military power, now have concluded that "too many dangerous activities" are not encompassed by existing agreements, and therefore to be countered by the possible use of military force.

Of prime importance is the growing threat of nuclear terror, which the Bush administration describes as a key "proliferation threat." This triple threat combines outlaw states, the growth of "loose" nuclear weapons/materials, and fanatical terrorists willing to use any means necessary to express their hatred of the West.

As a result, the Bush administration concluded that some of the actors in this horror-drama, including Saddam Hussein's Iraq could not be reformed. While Libya's decision to capitulate and remove its nuclear and other weapons programs was welcome, it is an unlikely outcome in many of the other cases.

Flexible military forces can help the United States and its allies act quickly to intercept banned and dangerous technology, fully enforce and expand the Proliferation Security Initiative, while complimenting expanded Nunn-Lugar efforts to keep nuclear material out of the hands of the jihadists.


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Following these strategies will allow us to muscularly enforce clear-sighted policies in the War on Terror rather than rely on what Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has dubbed "peace through paper" and the Carnegie Endowment has called "commitments and resolutions earnestly passed".

One of America's finest soldiers, former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. P.X. Kelly, noted the new troop alignment proposed by the president demonstrates a forward looking view, moves beyond the status quo, recognizes the realities of the post-Sept. 11 world. Kelly points out that the threat America faces today "is fundamentally different than the threats America's military was configured to face the Cold War" as modern military capabilities "make force deployment and the projection of power more important than the location of standing armies."

Of course, the threat from North Korea remains serious, and is growing with its nuclear program and ballistic missiles. But the current force of Americans soldiers in the Republic of Korea has never been adequate to stop a concerted attack from Pyongyang without major reinforcements and the use of overwhelming air power. To mount an effective deterrent in Korea, however, the Bush administration wisely recognizes that we do not need to tie down hundreds of thousands of U.S. forces that are better utilized elsewhere.

In short, President Bush's reposition of U.S. forces is based on a new reality that indelibly inscribed itself on the national conscientiousness after the tragic events of Sept. 11. One can argue that it might have been undertaken a half-decade or more ago, but both the American people and their protectors should be thankful it is occurring now.



Peter Huessy is a Senior Defense Associate at the National Defense University Foundation and a member of The Committee on the Present Danger, a bipartisan education and advocacy organization dedicated to building a national consensus for fighting terror around the globe. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Peter Huessy Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.