Rumsfeld's dreams of military transformation come to naught.

Military analysis.
Feb. 3 2006 6:19 PM

Rumsfeld Surrenders

The QDR dashes his dreams of military transformation.

(Continued from Page 1)

The QDR does contain some important ideas that can be implemented, in part because they don't cost much money, in part because they've proved their worth in the last few wars: more Predator and Global Hawk drones; converting a few Trident submarine-launched missiles from nuclear to conventionally armed warheads; modernizing B-1 and B-52 bombers to enhance the U.S. ability to strike targets from long distances; continuing to break down the Army's combat units into more flexible, self-sustaining brigades.

There are other proposals whose fate we'll have to await: boosting the number of special operations forces; training future warriors to be as skilled in counterinsurgency as they are today in conventional combat; offering higher pay scales to those trained in foreign languages and cultures. These goals require money—and a larger, better-educated pool of recruits. The money is lacking (Rumsfeld couldn't crack open the tac-air piggy bank), and the recruit base is diminishing in size and aptitude. The higher ranks are depleting as well. The QDR calls for rewarding "performance rather than longevity." Yet officer ranks are depleting so badly these days that nearly all captains are promoted to majors and nearly all majors are promoted to lieutenant colonels. There aren't enough people to demand good people. It's another example of a nice idea without a solid foundation.

Advertisement

For the last four and a half years, the checkbook has been wide open for anything called "national security." Rumsfeld and the chiefs got all the money they could wish for. Rather than use the opportunity to set priorities, they gorged. Now the well's run dry, the budget has to be cut, the priorities are set by those with the staying power—and that's one thing Rumsfeld doesn't have.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 6:30 PM Nothing Succeeds Like Secession Breakaway movements across the United States want to get on the Scottish bandwagon. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.