Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2001 / 20 Shevat, 5761
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Dubya's Marshall Plan
THE Bush-Cheney Administration made a lot of its supporters very
nervous last week when it signaled that there would be no immediate increase
in defense spending -- and perhaps none for the rest of Fiscal Year 2001.
After all, study after study has shown that the armed forces have been
seriously underfunded and overutilized for the past decade and Mr. Bush had
made a point during the campaign of pledging to fix what is known to ail the
By week's end, however, the Administration was putting out the word
that the promised "help" for the men and women in uniform was on the way,
after all. The new team clarified that it would not only be seeking
additional sums for pay, housing and reenlistment incentives in next year's
budget. It would also be willing to seek additional funding in the course
of this fiscal year -- if warranted by a fresh review of strategy and force
structure that was ordered by Mr. Bush and expected to catalyze a wholesale
transformation of the Defense Department.
Fortunately, the task of completing such a sweeping, yet expeditious
review has been given to a man who has trained for most of the past fifty
years for just this moment: Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon's legendary
Director of Net Assessment.
Dr. Marshall is one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War. Since he
joined the Defense Department in the mid-1970s, and during his prior service
at the Rand Corporation, he has been the principal patron of
"outside-of-the-box" thinking within the U.S. national security community.
He has consistently challenged the conventional wisdom, often recognizing
before the rest of the military establishment the declining utility of
existing weapon systems and the need to develop and field new capabilities
suited to a changing world.
Working almost entirely outside of public view, Andy Marshall has
spawned not only creative ideas; he has been a mentor to a generation of
first-rate strategic thinkers and sponsored some of the best security policy
research at the Nation's academic institutions. While the worst of the
many Secretaries of Defense under whom he has served have ignored him and,
in one case at least, tried to get rid of him by banishing him from the
Pentagon, the best -- including the only man to hold the position twice,
Donald Rumsfeld -- have prized and benefited greatly from his counsel.
Now, the Nation as a whole stands to be the beneficiary of Dr.
Marshall's wisdom and unsurpassed corporate memory. These are among the
points we must hope his strategic review will underscore:
All these steps, to say nothing of the research and development and
procurement costs associated with the next generation of military hardware
simply cannot be paid for within existing budget limitations. What is more,
the increased funding needs to start right away. It will fall to Andy
Marshall to help the new Bush-Cheney team and the Nation appreciate these
facts of life.
The threat from China: Few senior officials have better understood
and done more to document the determination of the People's Republic of
China to anticipate and prepare itself for conflict with the United States.
He grasps the danger the Chinese might pose to U.S. interests in Asia and
beyond -- including outer space -- and his recommendations about the sizing
and equipping of America's military will surely reflect the need to be able
to contend with the growing asymmetric and other threats from China.
- The need for urgent deployments of missile defenses: Andy Marshall
has long appreciated the risks associated with America's present, absolute
vulnerability to missile attack. He also understands, as Secretary Rumsfeld
noted recently, that an anti-missile system need not be perfect to have
strategic value. The new Marshall Plan should give urgent priority to
beginning the deployment of a global missile defense, starting with the
approach that promises to be the fastest, most flexible and least expensive:
adaptation of the Navy's Aegis fleet air defense ships.
- The requirement for safe, reliable and effective nuclear forces:
During his Rand years, Dr. Marshall was a specialist in nuclear weapons
matters. Although it is not entirely clear at this writing whether the
study President Bush has commissioned to determine the future size of the
U.S. deterrent will fall within his mandate, Dr. Marshall certainly
appreciates that the quantity of nuclear arms the Nation needs is only part
of the calculation. Quality also matters and the arsenal must be modernized
and tested if it is to remain viable for the foreseeable future.
- "Transformation" cannot be accomplished on the cheap: President
Bush clearly hopes to reconfigure the U.S. military so as to enable it to
meet tomorrow's challenges. Andy Marshall assuredly will have many ideas
for doing so -- some of them brilliant, many of them heretical, all of them
probably controversial. Still, he would be the first to acknowledge that,
even if one envisions revolutionary changes in the weapons of the future
(for example, an Army built around lighter, more mobile yet more lethal
weapons than main battle tanks and tracked infantry fighting vehicles or a
Navy weaned from large carriers in favor of arsenal ships and submarines),
the military will have to maintain and operate the preponderance of what it
has for at least the next decade or so.
This is more than a matter of correcting current, egregious
shortfalls in spare parts and other training- and combat-related gear.
There will have to be some interim modernization since the generation of
weapons Mr. Bush talked about "skipping" during the campaign was actually
skipped during the last decade. Recapitalization of the armed forces must
go forward apace to offset the effects of looming block obsolescence of much
of the Pentagon's hardware.
For most of the past half century, Andrew Marshall has been a man
ahead of his time. Thanks to George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, his time
JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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© 2000, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.