Panel Urges U.S. To Junk Two-War Strategy

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Panel Urges U.S. To Junk
Two-War Strategy

by Jim Mathews

04/20/00 09:25:00 AM U.S. EDT

In the new Internet era in which economic power can rise and fall in minutes and in which affected countries no longer neatly fit into allegiances with superpower camps, U.S. security strategy needs to evolve to deal better with small-scale contingencies, economic upheavals and public-health and welfare crises, concludes a Blue Ribbon panel commissioned by Defense Secretary William Cohen.

The U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21 st Century – better known as the Hart-Rudman Commission after its co-chairs, former senators Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) and Gary Hart (D-Colo.) – “ believes that the ‘two major theater wars’ yardstick for sizing U.S. forces is not producing the capabilities needed for the varied and complex contingencies now occurring and likely to increase in the years ahead,” members said in their second of three planned reports.

Those contingencies aren’t necessarily fueled by superpower tensions, and often involve a complex interplay of economic, public-health and education issues, all of which can be said broadly to involve U.S. security. That’s one reason why the panel thinks the U.S. needs five kinds of military capabilities – nuclear deterrence and protection forces; homeland security to operate missile defenses and control borders and airspace; conventional military power; rapidly deployable expeditionary/intervention capabilities, and ; humanitarian relief and “constabulary” capabilities.

“The integrating function of U.S. policymaking processes will be challenged as never before,” the panel says, noting that traditional national security players such as the State Dept., Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency will need to work more closely with economic agencies such as the Treasury and Commerce departments, and the U.S. Trade Representative. “Merely improving the interagency process around present structures may not suffice,” the panel notes.

That broader definition of national security, the panel says, should include education and research as components of economic health and, by extension, national power. The panel ranked maintaining “social cohesion, economic competitiveness, technology ingenuity and military strength” second on the list of six policy priorities, urging national efforts “to improve the quality of primary and secondary education,” as well as better public/private research partnerships, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and an improved civil service.

The panel’s third report, expected to contain more specific recommendations, is due out in February.

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