U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told a regional security conference in Singapore that the war against terrorism is far from over and close cooperation is more essential than ever to prevent future attacks. The defense chief made the comments during a three day visit to the region intended to reaffirm security ties.
Secretary Rumsfeld says the world has entered a new period - unforeseen at the end of the Cold War - that will require countries to adjust to threats, not from nations, but from terrorists with increasing access to deadly weapons and technology.
"The United States has been considering how to refocus its military posture to meet the changes of the new century," he explained. "Future dangers will less likely be from battles between great powers and more likely from enemies that work in small cells that are fluid and can strike without warning anywhere at anytime."
As part of what would be a major redeployment of U.S. military forces overseas, the Pentagon is reportedly considering plans to create more mobile forces that could respond quicker to these new kinds of threats.
"We're all going to have to think about the 21st century in a way that's different from the 20th century," Mr. Rumsfeld noted. "To the extent that we are hung up on counting numbers of things, ships, guns, tanks, planes, people, we will find ourselves deceiving ourselves about capability."
The Army has already announced that some 3,600 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea will be sent to Iraq to bolster forces battling terrorists and insurgents there.
"Success in Iraq will be a victory for the security of the civilized world. Terrorists know this and they are seeking to derail this progress," he said. "Their fear is that one day the Middle East will shed itself of their tyranny and violence and replace the law of terror with governments of the people. "
And, he told his audience the economic and political transformation in Asia can serve as an example for Iraq. But he pointed out it has taken decades for democracy and prosperity to replace civil strife in this part of the world and that the road to reform in Iraq will be difficult as well.
Following his stop in Singapore, Mr. Rumsfeld holds talks with officials in Bangladesh before heading back to Washington.