38.5 F
Indianapolis
Saturday, March 6, 2021

Pentagon, scarred by 9/11, adapts to new fight

More by this author

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Sept. 11 attacks transformed the Pentagon,

ravaging the iconic building itself and setting the stage for two

long and costly wars that reordered the way the American military

fights.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Compared with a decade ago, the military is bigger, more closely

connected to the CIA, more practiced at taking on terrorists and

more respected by the American public. But its members also are

growing weary from war, committing suicide at an alarming rate and

training less for conventional warfare.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The partly gutted Pentagon was restored with remarkable speed after

the hijacked American Airlines Boeing 757 slammed through its west

side, setting the building ablaze and killing 184 people. But

recovering from the strain of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will

take far longer – possibly decades.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The Pentagon’s leaders will have to adjust to a new era of

austerity after a decade in which the defense budget doubled, to

nearly $700 billion this year.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The Army and Marine Corps in particular – both still heavily

engaged in Afghanistan – will struggle to retrain, rearm and

reinvigorate their badly stretched forces even as budgets begin to

shrink. And the troops themselves face an uncertain future; many

are scarred by the mental strains of battle, and some face

transition to civilian life at a time of economic turmoil and high

unemployment. The cost of veterans’ care will march

higher.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

As Robert Gates put it shortly before he stepped down as defense

secretary this summer, peace will bring its own

problems.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The problem was not peace on 9/11. At the time, the military was

focused almost entirely on external threats. Air defenses kept

watch for planes and missiles that might strike from afar; there

was little attention to the possibility that terrorists might

hijack domestic airliners and use them as missiles.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

That changed with the creation of U.S. Northern Command in 2002,

which now shares responsibility for defending U.S. territory with

the Homeland Security Department.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Terrorism was not a new challenge in 2001, but the scale of the

9/11 attacks prompted a shift in the U.S. mindset from defense to

offense.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7 in an unconventional

military campaign that was coordinated with the CIA. That heralded

one of the most profound effects of 9/11: a shift in the military’s

emphasis from fighting conventional army-on-army battles to

executing more secretive, intelligence-driven hunts for shadowy

terrorists. That shift was important, but it came gradually as the

military services clung to their Cold War ways.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Still in debate is how the Taliban, which had shielded Osama bin

Laden and other al-Qaida figures prior to the U.S. invasion and was

driven from Kabul within weeks, managed to make a comeback in the

years after the U.S. shifted its main focus to Iraq in 2003. That

setback in Afghanistan, coupled with the longer-than-expected fight

in Iraq, showed the limits of post-9/11 U.S. military

power.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

It also pointed up one of the other key lessons of the past decade

of war: It takes more than military muscle to win the peace. It

takes the State Department, with its small army of diplomats and

development specialists, and other government agencies working in

partnership with the Pentagon.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The military grew larger over the past decade, but the growth was

uneven. The Army expanded from about 480,000 in 2001 to 572,000

this year, and the Marine Corps grew from 172,000 to 200,000,

although both are to begin scaling back shortly. The Air Force and

Navy, by contrast, got smaller. The Air Force lost about 20,000

slots since 2001 and the Navy lost about 50,000.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

In percentage terms, the biggest growth in the military has been in

the secretive, elite units known as special operations forces. They

surged to the forefront of the U.S. military’s counter-terror

campaign almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks, helping rout

the Taliban in late 2001 and culminating in May 2011 with the Navy

SEAL team’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. And

even though al-Qaida’s global reach has been diminished, the

increased role of special operations forces is likely to

continue.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“It’s the most interesting and important change that’s likely to

endure,” Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings

Institution, said in an interview. “I haven’t heard too many people

suggest that we can scale back to where we used to be.”

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The Marines, who had never before fielded forces of this kind, now

have 2,600 under U.S. Special Operations Command. The others

include the SEALs, the Army Green Berets and Rangers and the Air

Force special operators.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

In all, those special operations forces grew from 45,600 in 2001 to

61,000 today, according to Special Operations Command.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

A decade of war also has produced its military stars. Army Gen.

David Petraeus served in command three times in Iraq and once in

Afghanistan before accepting President Barack Obama’s offer to

succeed Leon Panetta as the next CIA director.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Former Iraq commander Army Gen. Raymond Odierno is about to become

the Army’s top general, and the current Army chief, Gen. Martin

Dempsey, who served twice in command in Iraq, is due to replace

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of

Staff.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The military as a whole is viewed more favorably by the American

public. A Gallup poll in June found that the military is the most

respected national institution, with 78 percent expressing great

confidence in it. That is 11 points higher than its historical

Gallup average dating to the early 1970s.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

The new technological star is the drone aircraft, like the

Predators that surveil the battlefield and fire missiles at

discrete targets. Their popularity has spawned an effort to field

unmanned aircraft to perform other missions, such as a long-range

bomber and even heavy-lift helicopters.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Robert Burns can be reached on Twitter at

“text-decoration: none; color: #000066;” href=

“http://twitter.com/robertburnsAP” target=

“-blank”>http://twitter.com/robertburnsAP

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“text-decoration: none; color: #000066;” rel=”item-license” href=

“http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SEPT_11_MILITARY_CHANGES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-21-16-10-33#f331959a-eac5-49f3-aa19-5096fa217247”

name=”f331959a-eac5-49f3-aa19-5096fa217247″>© 2011 

“source-org vcard”>The Associated

Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be

published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more

about our

“http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/privacy”>Privacy

Policy and 

href=”http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/terms”>Terms of Use.

- Advertisement -

Upcoming Online Townhalls

- Advertisement -

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest local news.

Stay connected

16,331FansLike
3,142FollowersFollow
5,989FollowersFollow
14SubscribersSubscribe

Related articles

Popular articles

Español + Translate »
Skip to content