We Can Still Manage Two Wars

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday emphasized that the United States “must have the capability to fight” in more than one conflict simultaneously, specifically mentioning possible overlapping conflicts with Iran and North Korea as an example of why the nation must preserve that capability. His remarks rebutted press reports that the new US defense strategy would back down from the “two war” force-sizing idea. Panetta, however, in announcing the strategy at the Pentagon, also stressed that US military forces would be smaller, and the Pentagon’s forthcoming Fiscal 2013 budget proposal contains “more risk” than the United States has accepted in the past. The new strategy calls for helping friends and allies do more for themselves by apparently allowing more arms sales and creating “innovative” ways to maintain forward presence. Panetta’s deputy, Ash Carter, said the Defense Department would slightly reduce the “seed corn” of science and technology, but this area would still be healthy. Panetta and Carter also emphasized that, wherever possible, changes in US military focus would be “reversible,” because, as Adm. James Winnefeld, Joint Chiefs vice chairman, said, “we could still get this wrong.” (Panetta’s remarks) (Obama-Panetta-Dempsey transcript) (Carter-Flournoy-Winnefeld transcript)