Bush huddles on military makeover
Fri Aug 8 15:35:12 2003

Bush huddles on military makeover

‘Challenges of 21st century’ bring Cheney and Rumsfeld to president’s ranchAug. 8 -- After huddling Thursday with Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Bush on Friday takes turns with his military advisers. NBC's Campbell Brown reports.

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug. 8 — President Bush meets with his top defense advisers Friday to talk about a major overhaul: turning the U.S. military into a more mobile, responsive force to deal more effectively with world trouble spots.

“THEY WILL be talking about the administration’s commitment to transform the military to the challenges of the 21st century,” White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said. “They will review broad strategies and priorities, talk about the global war on terrorism, overseas basing and ... the lessons of the Iraqi Freedom operation.”

The president will meet with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top advisers.

Rumsfeld wants to transform the military into a sophisticated, lighter force able to mobilize quickly in response to crises around the world.


Secretary of State Colin Powell talked Thursday about the need for a more mobile military after returning to Washington from the Bush ranch.

“We have to be nimble, flexible, call audibles as the situation changes,” he said at a Washington news conference, using the football term for changing plans at the last minute.

Powell said the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq may want to “stand back a little” and rely more on local forces to maintain security.

“Iraqis have started to create security forces that will protect installations, so that you don’t need a coalition military organization protecting that installation,” Powell said.

But Powell said the U.S. military would take steps necessary to protect themselves and respond to attacks. “The terrorists need to know we will not be deterred.”

“We intend to not stay any longer than we have to, but we will stay long enough to make sure that we allow the Iraqi people,” he said, “to put in place a representative form of government.”


National security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Thursday likened Iraq’s halting steps toward self-government to black Americans’ struggle for civil rights. Rice, who has been staying at the Bush ranch with the president and first lady much of the week, urged black journalists at a meeting in Dallas to reject arguments that some people are incapable of democracy.

“We’ve heard that argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it,” Rice told about 1,200 people at the National Association of Black Journalists convention. “The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East.”

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