WASHINGTON – Arguing that the idea to cut defense spending last decade was "seductive but false," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday the United States needs to build the military to be ready for any surprise attacks that could be "vastly more deadly" than Sept. 11.
"In the 21st century we need to find new ways to deter new adversaries that surely will arise," he said.
Delivering an address billed as a "major policy speech" that would account for President Bush's proposed $48 billion increase in the 2003 defense budget, Rumsfeld said new approaches as well as new weapons are needed now that the United States is facing new types of threats. Those threats include cyberattacks, attacks on U.S. military bases abroad, and ballistic missile attacks on American cities.
"We need to change not only the way we think, but the way we train, the way we exercise and the way we fight," he told military officers at the National Defense University.
Joined by the head of the U.S. Central Command Tommy Franks and Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, Rumsfeld said that enemies of the United States would be "foolhardy" to try to take the U.S. military head-on, therefore they are looking for areas of vulnerability.
"An open society is vulnerable to new forms of terrorism," he said.
"They suspect that U.S. space assets and information networks, critical to our security and our economy, are somewhat vulnerable, and they are. They see that our ability to project force into the distant corners of the world where they live depends, in some cases, on vulnerable foreign bases. And they know we have no defense against ballistic missiles on our cities, our people, our forces or our friends, creating incentives for the development of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."
"Our job is to close off as many of those avenues of potential attack as possible," he added.
Rumsfeld's remarks came as the president announced that nations seeking to threaten the United States "better get their house in order." Speaking in Atlanta, Bush did not mention any countries by name, but Tuesday he listed Iran, Iraq and North Korea during his State of the Union address as forming an "axis of evil."
FBI Director Robert Mueller also warned Thursday that groups of Al Qaeda-trained terrorists remain in the United States "and could come together with others to stage a terrorist strike."
Possible threats to America have emerged from interviews with captured Al Qaeda soldiers and an enormous cache of documents, videotapes and other materials recovered in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
And in a report to Congress made public Wednesday, CIA Director George Tenet said rudimentary diagrams of nuclear weapons were found in a suspected Al Qaeda safehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan. Other evidence uncovered in Afghanistan includes diagrams of American nuclear power plants, although it is unclear if an attack was planned.
Taking questions at the end of the speech, Rumsfeld was asked when he would know when the war was won.
"I will let you know," he joked, elaborating, "Our goal is to be able to live as free people... and know that we don't have to hide, carry weapons, get low on the ground."
Rumsfeld gave a list of six transformational goals the military is trying to achieve: to protect the U.S. homeland and bases overseas; to project and sustain power in distant theaters; to deny enemies sanctuary; to protect information networks from attack; to use information technology to link up different kinds of U.S. forces so that they can in fact fight jointly; and to maintain unhindered access to space and protect space capabilities from enemy attack.
While his speech was a pitch intended to explain the benefits of bolstering the military, Rumsfeld said that the Defense Department will also need to rely on traditional capabilities. He pointed to the Special Forces who were sometimes forced to travel in Afghanistan on donkey or horseback.
"It shows that a revolution in military affairs is about more than building new high-tech weapons, though that is certainly part of it. It's also about new ways of thinking, and new ways of fighting," he said. "An ability to adapt will be critical in a world where surprise and uncertainty are the defining characteristics of our new security environment."
The speech made a case for spending more money on a wide range of weapons and other military programs, taking lessons from the Afghan battlefield.
Unmanned aircraft that captured live TV images of the battles were high on his list of technologies. In short supply though successfully employed in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said more are needed.
He also mentioned a shortage of manned reconnaissance and surveillance planes, command and control aircraft like the Air Force's AWACS plane, chemical and biological defense equipment and certain types of special operations forces.
Rumsfeld added that soldiers who fight America's wars deserve the increased assistance.
"Our men and women in uniform are doing a truly brilliant job in the war on terrorism. We're grateful to them. We're proud. And the best way we can show our appreciation is to make sure they have the resources, the capabilities and the innovative culture they need not only to win today's war but to deter and if necessary defeat the aggressors we will surely face in the dangerous century ahead," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.