An excerpt from America's First Battles 1776-1965, examining how the
first battles of U.S. wars resulted in great losses because of lack of
preparedness. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki sent members of Congress this
book to help persuade them on the need for remaking the U.S. Army for
21st century conflicts.
Here is Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's article in the May/June 2002
issue of Foreign Affairs which offers a strategic overview of the Bush
administration's plans for revamping America's military readiness.
In September 2000 leaders of the U.S. military services were asked to
testify before Congress on the issue of military readiness. They stated that
combat readiness is in jeopardy unless the next president adds tens of billions
of dollars to the defense budget, or, sets a less ambitious agenda for using
the military in trouble spots around the world. Under questioning, they said
they were confident U.S. troops could handle fighting two major wars at nearly
the same time (2MTW), but there would be "high risk" that in the second of the
two wars, the fight would be longer and more costly. (Click on their names to
read their statements.)
Ret. Army General Wesley K. Clark, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander during
the war in Kosovo, wrote this September 2000 Washington Post article
in which he contends the real issue is not about military readiness but U.S.
national purpose and strategy. What is needed, he says, is leadership and
bipartisan consensus on the U.S. role in the world. That in turn will direct
how U.S. troops will be used and how ready they'll be.
This report is the result of a Congressionally-mandated initiative to
address U.S. national security challenges in the 21st century. It
required the Pentagon to review defense programs and policies and establish a
revised defense program through the year 2005. The resulting QDR report called
for military transformation and a military strategy ready to fight two major
wars (2MTW) at nearly the same time, as well as smaller scale contingencies.
Subsequent Quadrennial Defense Reviews will happen at the beginning of each
presidential term; the next QDR, to be finished in the fall of 2001, is
already underway in the Pentagon. [A note: In July 2001 it was reported that the Pentagon,
according to a classified document, is ready to abandon its 2-war strategy which has been
in place since 1993.]
In 1996, Congress created the National Defense Panel (NDP) to conduct an
independent assessment of the QDR and the Pentagon. Its report discussed
concerns about new emerging "asymmetrical" threats such as terrorism, and
called for Pentagon reform to deal with these threats.. Yet the NDP stopped
short of calling for major strategic changes in defense policy.
This Commission--also called the Hart-Rudman Commission--was conceived by Newt
Gingrich in 1998 to examine long-term national security policy in three phases:
the first study was published in 1999 and examined the new global security
environment over the next 25 years; the second study was published in the
spring of 2000 and examined U.S. security interests and priorities, and
questioned the need to continue to rely on a 2MTW policy. A third report on the
structures and processes of the U.S. national security system will be completed
in the spring of 2001. The Commission's web site offers reports already
The U.S. Army offers a graph with explanation showing the three major paths of
change which mark the Army's transformation over the coming decades.
This RAND Institute research brief--part of RAND's Project Air Force--looks
at the "alternative strategic worlds" that will affect the U.S. long range
national security planning beyond 2008. This particular section gives an
overview of the developing strategic environment in the world's key
This Cato Institute article takes issue with those who focus on military
readiness alone to explain past military defeats, and looks at other
A January 2000 ABC News feature offering a summary of the Task Force Hawk
story, what went wrong, and why it became a rallying cry for the Army to remake
itself. It also includes a video report on the struggle to transform the
Army into a 21st century force plus related stories on the Apache
This U.S. News September 2000 article examines the questions surrounding the
Army's plans for a new generation of weapons and concerns about the impact on
the tactics and force structure.
TIME Magazine's November 1999 overview of the Army's readiness crisis
together with a summary of the Pentagon's two-war strategy that's at the heart
of the readiness issue: who opposes the two-war scenario and what are its
"The Future of War" is a co-production of FRONTLINE and the Center for
Investigative Reporting whose web site offers more on the Army's transformation
plans including interviews with defense experts and a report on the proposed
Crusader artillery system.
FRONTLINE's February 2000 report on the U.S./NATO war in Kosovo presents the
views of policymakers, military leaders and defense analysts on how the war was
fought, what it achieved, and the pros and cons of using the military in
FRONTLINE's May 1999 report examines how the Balkans crisis of the late 1990s
revealed the gulf between what U.S. diplomats want and what the U.S. military
is prepared to deliver.