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.


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.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
Oct. 20 2014 2:16 PM Even When They Go to College, The Poor Sometimes Stay Poor
Oct. 20 2014 2:19 PM A Procedural Rule Could Keep Gay Marriage From Ever Reaching SCOTUS Again
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 1:26 PM This $248 Denim Jumpsuit Is the Latest Example of a Horrible Fashion Tradition
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 1:51 PM Will Amazon Lead Us to the Golden Age of Books? A Future Tense Event.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 10:23 AM Where I Was Wrong About the Royals I underestimated the value of building a team that’s just barely better than mediocre.