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Pentagon to Rely on Speed, Precision Weaponry in Future Conflicts, says Official - 2003-06-18

In testimony on Capitol Hill, a senior Bush administration official has said U.S. military forces will rely on speed and precision weaponry to win future conflicts, such as the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and battles in the war on terror. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz testified before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Wolfowitz says the military is still assessing all the lessons learned from the war that ousted Saddam Hussein from Iraq, and from the war to eliminate the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

However, senior defense officials have already made some key observations, grounded in previous reviews of defense strategy, among which is the need to respond quickly and with overwhelming power to unpredictable events.

"The emphasis is on speed and delivering early combat power to overmatch the enemy, rather than slow deliberate responses to enemy aggression built up over time," he said. "We do not want our forces in war fighting theaters to have to wait until reinforcements arrive to blunt an enemy's attack."

Rapid initial deployment of special forces, the use of precision munitions, and full use of information technology, Mr. Wolfowitz says, are all key lessons taken from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Wolfowitz says defense planners concluded in the summer of 2001 that it would be a mistake to reduce the U.S. worldwide military force structure. Events later that year, on September 11, served to support the previous conclusion.

Despite reassurances from the Pentagon that U.S. forces would be able to fight and win multiple conflicts, some lawmakers are concerned about strains on military capabilities. Mr. Wolfowitz says the administration hopes contributions from key allies will help ease these pressures in Iraq.

Mr. Wolfowitz made a point of addressing plans to reorganize U-S forces on the Korean peninsula. These efforts are being undertaken, he says, in full consultation with Seoul and will enable a full response to any provocation from Pyongyang.

"If North Korea were to attack South Korea or Japan, the United States and its allies have the military capabilities to defeat North Korea, using all the means at our disposal, including the enormously-improved strike capabilities that the world has just seen in Iraq, and earlier in Afghanistan," he said.

At the same time, Mr. Wolfowitz says, South Korea needs to contribute more to its own defense. As the United States steps up its preparedness for any North Korean aggression, he says, Seoul can and should spend more to maintain its own security.