The Rumsfeld Plan makes strategic sense
The end of the Cold War ended our need to base large numbers of ground forces in Germany. Now, we are in a new and vastly different war requiring different kinds of military forces in new and different locations.
The redeployment of about 100,000 U.S. troops is something Donald Rumsfeld has wanted to do from day one of his second tour as our Secretary of Defense. But events such as 9/11, kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan and freeing Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his psychopathic boys kept getting in the way.
The redeployment does this: (1) It moves some ground troops out of Germany and into Eastern Europe – the controlling “Heartland” of the Euro-Asian landmass. (2) It moves some ground troops out of Germany into Asia. Bear in mind, more Muslims live between Iraq and Indonesia than live between Iraq and Egypt. (3) By stationing more of our troops here in the continental United States, more of our troops and their dependents will have fewer changes of station. That will permit spouses to obtain and hold better jobs while their sponsors are away on overseas deployments.
Those are the upsides of the Rumsfeld Plan. So, what are the downsides? First of all, the plan does not address the core problem which is the cutting in half of our military forces under the previous administration. Currently, at 500,000, the U.S. Army needs to be returned to a leaner, meaner, more mobile strength of 1 million. Secretary Rumsfeld, with one eye on the budget deficit, wants to keep the military end strength as low as prudently possible.
Thus, a judgment must be made by the American people and the Congress as to just how much security we need and can afford. But if one looks at the astronomical costs of the 9/11 attack, an Army end strength of 1 million might prove a bargain.
The other downside of the Rumsfeld Plan is more emotional and nostalgic than anything else. Yours truly served six years in Germany and collectively spent another two years in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Turkey. I proposed to Wonder Wife on top of the Zugspitze – Germany’s highest mountain. We honeymooned at a ski resort above Innsbruck. One son was born in Frankfurt. I achieved near-native fluency in German.
But cultural enrichment and tourism opportunities are not the reasons why we maintain forces abroad. Engaged now in a war to the death with the suicide-bombing forces of a radical and virulent form of Islam, our one and only focus must be fielding and maintaining a new kind of military that no longer guards the Fulda Gap, but rather, is tailored to the tasks of hunting down those who would destroy western civilization as we know it, and occupying hostile territory until nascent democracies can stabilize today’s and tomorrow’s troubled regions.
These are not tasks that can be undertaken successfully by military dilettantes or those who play with national security for political advantage. These are tasks for those who understand our very national survival is at stake in the War on Terror.
The Rumsfeld Plan is a good start along a long road. It is founded on sound geo-political principles. But it suffers only in that the deck Rumsfeld is trying to shuffle just doesn’t contain enough cards.
Almost unnoticed is how the Rumsfeld redeployment benefits NATO by giving the world’s most successful military alliance, not just the breath of new life, but relocates NATO into the Heartland described in 1904 by the renowned strategist, Sir Halford John Mackinder.
Sir Halford opined in 1904 that whoever occupies the Heartland, which he described as Eastern Europe, would rule the world. The Heartland Theory impelled both Napoleon and Hitler to attack Russia. Had either Napoleon or Hitler succeeded, Planet Earth would be a far different place.
Thus, of all the benefits of the Rumsfeld Plan, the most important may be our increased presence in the Heartland.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2004. William Hamilton.