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Pentagon Hints At Major Troop Reductions - 2001-08-04

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has hinted at a major shift in security policy that could lead to significant troop reductions.

For nearly a decade, U.S. military strategy has been based on the need to maintain sufficient forces to fight and win two, nearly simultaneous major wars, for example, one in the Persian Gulf and a second on the Korean Peninsula.

Now, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has revealed details of an alternative strategy under active consideration. Under this strategy, U.S. forces would have to fight and win only one war while merely repelling aggression in a second.

Mr. Rumsfeld tells reporters at the Pentagon the new approach is intended to deal more realistically with the challenges and uncertainties of the post Cold War era. "Where it is not possible to know precisely where a threat might come from, but it is possible to have some sense of the kinds of capabilities our country will need if we are able to deter and defend and prevail against the kinds of asymmetric threats that could come from any number of locations," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld makes clear the new strategy has not yet been formally adopted and says that officials are still evaluating the implications on future military personnel and equipment needs.

But some members of Congress and some military commanders have already voiced concern the Secretary's ongoing strategic review could lead to cuts in troops and tanks and possibly in ships and aircraft.

Mr. Rumsfeld is known to favor increased spending on missile defense, satellites, intelligence, counter-terrorism and cyber-warfare.

But faced with budget limitations, analysts say he may be hard pressed to fund such high-tech programs without making cuts elsewhere in the defense arena.