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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Bush outlines hi-tech military vision
US F117 Stealth fighter
US F117 Stealth fighter: A major defence review is under way
President George W Bush has spelt out a hi-tech vision for the US military, with a greater reliance on stealth and precision weapons to deal with new threats.

In a speech to graduates at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Mr Bush said the US would have to redefine war on its own terms.

I'm committed to building a future force that is defined less by size and more by mobility and swiftness

President Bush

"We must build forces that draw upon revolutionary advances in the technology of war," he said.

But the BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says Mr Bush failed to outline an expected radical reshaping of the armed forces. He spoke in general terms, steering clear of specific changes.

That may be because of opposition within Congress and the military to changes he is planning, our correspondent says.

Mr Bush said the armed forces would have to rely "more on stealth and precision technologies".

They would need to "deploy with far greater speed and precision than ever before".

But he conceded that building tomorrow's armed forces "is not going to be easy".

Defence review

Mr Bush is awaiting a final report from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is conducting a major defence review.

President Bush
President Bush spoke of scrapping the "old bureaucratic mindset"
Mr Rumsfeld is tackling the question of whether the US should abandon the principle of being capable of fighting two major regional wars at the same time.

The US joint chiefs of staff are reported to be unhappy with both the way Mr Rumsfeld has conducted his review - they have been left largely on the sidelines - and with some of its results.

Fundamental defence reform is going to mean the Bush administration taking on some very strong vested interests, our correspondent says.

Cold War thinking

While there has been some slimming down and an effort to graft new digitised command systems onto existing units, the US forces have not fundamentally changed since the end of the Cold War.

Changing the direction of our military is like changing the direction of a mighty ship

President Bush

Operation Desert Storm in 1991 - at least in terms of US deployments - was a re-run of plans for a European conflict transposed to the Middle East.

American forces are seen as too heavy, and need to be more agile and harder hitting, our correspondent says.

The air operations against Serbia in 1999 revealed shortages of key assets, like airborne electronic jamming aircraft.

New environments

Political changes around the world have altered the environment into which the US may deploy force.

Picture: Federation of American Scientists
The DD21 destroyer - one of the most advanced US projects
There is likely to be a much greater US emphasis on Asia - and especially China and its military modernisation plans.

Accordingly, the US nuclear arsenal could be scaled down, as it no longer needs to counter a Russian threat.

Changes in military technology are also shaping the challenges of the future. More accurate and longer-range weaponry is proliferating.

Military expertise

The Bush administration is full of inside military knowledge; from Colin Powell - a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - at the State Department, and Vice-President Dick Cheney, a former defence secretary.

Defence reform is going to need new money. Some $30 to $35bn in additional money may be needed in the 2002 fiscal year.

The BBC's Rob Watson reports
"The President stuck to generalities."
The BBC's Jonathan Marcus
looks at President Bush's speech
See also:

24 May 01 | Americas
America's future firepower
01 May 01 | Americas
Hurdles for US missile defence plans
09 Feb 01 | Americas
Bush orders major defence review
30 Apr 01 | Americas
Bush: The first 100 days
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