The Legacy Of Donald Rumsfeld


The tenure of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned in November, has left the U.S. military in a vulnerable state.

Rumsfeld was appointed secretary of defense by President George W. Bush in 2001 to more or less overhaul the U.S. military. The aim, according to Stratfor, was to “skip over an entire generation of military hardware” in order to develop new technologies (Nov. 9, 2006). The hoped-for result: Twenty years on, U.S. military technology would be two generations ahead of the technology used by any potential enemy. In the meantime, there would be “a massive reduction in the size of the military, with the Army suffering the largest cuts in manpower and resources.”

A fine strategy perhaps, all things being equal. But then came September 11. Then came Afghanistan and Iraq. Then came insurgency warfare. “Boots on the ground” became indispensable—all the advanced technology being developed did nothing to prevent the troops from being overstretched. Thus, the Iraq war has had a severe effect on the readiness of the U.S. military, particularly the Army. “Long-term damage to manpower has already been caused …. Furthermore, the expenses of resetting units—repairing and replacing damaged and lost equipment—as they return from Iraq have yet to be addressed. The effects of this will be enormous” (ibid., Dec. 8, 2006).

Meanwhile, the so-called “transformation” of the Army has been stunted: As a result of funding constraints, the Army’s latest budget plan outlines deep cuts, particularly in the Future Combat Systems program—the core program aimed at transforming the Army.

“The irony is that,” wrote Stratfor, “instead of leaping ahead by a generation, U.S. forces have now been saddled with the worst of both worlds: an exhausted military that will take years to repair, and limited progress in the modernization that they will likely need a generation from now” (op. cit.).

Without a doubt, the U.S. military is still the most advanced and powerful in the world, but it is straining under heavy operational and cost burdens. This, together with a broken national will, is encouraging the rest of the world to race to catch up. We will yet see that Herbert W. Armstrong’s proclamation in 1961 that “America has won its last war” will prove true.