Quadrennial Review Allows DoD to Make 'Vector Changes'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006 The Quadrennial Defense Review is a chance for the Defense Department to make "vector changes" on the transformation of the American military, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during a recent interview.
Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani said the QDR allows the department to assess the path it is on and move the emphasis from certain areas and place it on other more important areas.
"For example, we're worried about disruptive challenges out there," Giambastiani said. "Some would call them asymmetric threats. We have to understand today's environment, and see these irregular challenges. We are trying to shape the department to be more flexible, adaptive and to think about and position ourselves to deal with these threats in the future. It's a stock-taking."
The admiral said it is important to understand the review in terms of the transforming process the military is going through. He said that since 2001 DoD has been transforming to meet the threats of the 21st century.
"We have tried to embed a culture of constant change, constant innovation (in the military)," he said. While the review has always been a chance for the department to take stock, this year the review comes out in conjunction with the president's 2007 defense budget request.
At the heart of the review is what Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, has called "the long war." This is the long struggle against terrorist networks. These networks "have no compunction about killing civilians, no compunction against causing collateral damage, because they see this as part of their extremist ideology," Giambastiani said. "How this QDR fits into this is that it recognizes this long-term struggle against these terrorist extremists."
The QDR is aimed at emphasizing agility, flexibility, speed, responsiveness and pre-emption, the admiral said. "So what you would emphasize is special operations forces against such a threat."
The review recommends substantially increasing special operations capabilities. "We're increasing capability in people, expertise, skill sets and also getting more equipment," Giambastiani said.
In addition, the review calls for a force with better language capabilities, better intelligence-gathering capabilities, better human intelligence "and all those things needed to pursue a long campaign not operating against state entities, but terrorist networks."
The Marine Corps has added 2,600 Marines to U.S. Special Operations Command. The Army is increasing its number of units assigned to SOCOM and is adding to the number of Special Forces units. The Navy is adding SEAL teams, and the Air Force is adding squadrons to the command as well.
But conventional forces operational arms also will grow, Giambastiani said. This means conventional forces will shift people from combat service and combat service support jobs into combat jobs, the admiral explained. The services will do this inside their end-strength constraints - in other words, without adding to their authorized overall manning levels.
The admiral said shifting emphasis "from artillery units to military police, civil affairs, engineers - those who can be helpful in this long war, the more irregular war."
The conventional forces also will perform more special operations jobs, the admiral said. Conventional forces will train foreign militaries, as the Marines have done in the country of Georgia, for example. "In the long war, it's important to assist in creating police forces and armed forces like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo," he said.
The QDR looks not only at forces, but also at the business side of the Pentagon, Giambastiani said, and includes recommendations about defense acquisition process. "This looks at how can we produce the best for the least taxpayer dollars - or how do we get the biggest bang for the bucks," the admiral said.
The review also stresses the way the services work together, the communications and intelligence networks that allow the services to be more joint and also looks at what America's allies bring to the long war, Giambastiani said.
The admiral said the department is "not going to be shy about asking for or recommending changes to Congress. They have been receptive in the past."
The themes of the review are uncertainty and surprise, Giambastiani said. "It's impossible for any of us to see the future; we can only speculate or use informed judgments about what is ahead of us," he said. "In an era of uncertainty and surprise, where we have these very devastating weapons that could be used anywhere in the world including the United States, you have to have an ability to defend the homeland."
The review looked at the supporting role the department plays in homeland defense. "We created U.S. Northern Command for homeland defense," he said. The command showed its usefulness in DoD's response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he noted.
The review also looked at the training and equipping of the National Guard and Reserve in support of the homeland defense mission. "The ability to have them properly trained and equipped to respond to such emergencies is a key component in making sure we are a more capable force inside the United States," Giambastiani said. "That is a major theme inside the Quadrennial Defense Review."
And there is much more in the Quadrennial Defense Review, the admiral said. But the bottom line is that the review is a tool for building "a more useful, more capable military," he said.