The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 67/No. 23           July 7, 2003  
U.S. government molds
‘mobile, agile’ military
Appointment of army chief promotes
role of Special Operations forces
(feature article)
U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has announced that a former head of Special Operations forces will serve as the new chief of the U.S. army. The appointment of retired Gen. Peter Shoomaker follows the promotion of the special forces to a key role in the military conquests of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rumsfeld has been among the most outspoken champions of the enhanced role of the Green Berets, Delta Force, and Navy Seals in the U.S. military.

These moves are further signs that a revolution is under way in the organization of the U.S. military. They reflect the U.S. rulers’ push for more mobile, less ponderous armed forces ready to move rapidly to areas of battle as U.S. imperialism needs.

The invasion of Iraq was a victory for the approach of the defense secretary and his supporters over their critics in the government and military brass. In that assault, U.S. Gen. Thomas Franks, the commander of the operation and another Rumsfeld ally, relied heavily on air power, laser- and satellite-guided bombs, and a ground army that was numerically small in comparison with the U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. and British units’ rapid advance from Kuwait to northern Iraq in the face of a badly led and demoralized Iraqi army silenced those in Washington who said that the invading force was too small and lightly armed and would get bogged down.

Franks, who headed the U.S. Central Command recently and is retiring this summer, is being replaced by Lt. Gen. John Abizaid—dubbed the “Mad Arab” by his fellows in the military brass—who also played a major role in Washington’s conquest of Iraq.

Following the war, U.S. president George Bush singled out the Special Operations Command for particular praise. Shoomaker headed the command for three years from 1997. He was stationed in Korea in the mid-1970s.  
U.S. forces are redeployed
In keeping with the ongoing remolding of the armed forces for more frequent and far-flung aggression, U.S. officers have begun a significant redeployment of their troops in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas on the pretext of “fighting terrorism.” The number of U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany will fall from almost 70,000 to as few as 15,000. Most will head east to Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Rumania.

That will bring them closer to likely theaters of imperialist intervention in the Middle East, Africa, and Russia. “Why do we need a joint force to be in Germany, where there’s nothing happening?” a senior military official told the Los Angeles Times. “You have to have troops close to ports and airfields that are closer to the action.”

The total U.S. forces in Europe were reduced from 300,000 to around 100,000 in the decade following the end of the Cold War.

In addition, Washington is moving troops south from the so-called demilitarized zone dividing the Korean peninsula, which takes them out of range of north Korean artillery in case of a military conflict with Pyongyang. The Pentagon is also probing to establish new bases in Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam, in addition to Japan and south Korea, where it has tens of thousands of troops.

Up until recently, some 80 percent of the 1.4 million U.S. troops were stationed in the United States, south Korea, and Germany.

In the Middle East, the U.S. military is pulling most of its 5,000-strong force out of Saudi Arabia, while reinforcing its presence in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and now Iraq. Further east, thousands of troops are in Afghanistan and some 1,500 have been stationed in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic.

Meanwhile, under Washington’s Plan Colombia, U.S. forces have been deployed in a number of Andean countries in Latin America under the guise of combating the drug trade and terrorism. It’s an area of the world where the volcano of the class struggle is smoldering.  
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