Threats Abound, QDR Will Help U.S. Meet Them, England Says
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 15, 2006 As the 21st century progresses, the United States must be prepared to deal with threats posed by terrorists, corrupt regimes and emerging state powers, a top Pentagon leader said here yesterday.
The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review will go a long way toward helping the U.S. military meet these challenges, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told the House Armed Services Committee.
"The QDR is a strategic document," he said. "It is based on the recognition that the Department of Defense, and our nation as a whole, face a global security climate of dynamic, complex threats, and that these threats will continue into the foreseeable future."
The congressionally mandated defense review is a national security building block and is an "interim" document, intended to launch a continuous wave of future improvements, he added.
England said winning the long war against global terrorism would require that the U.S. military adapt to meet the unconventional threats posed by terror networks. "Victory requires that our military continue to adopt unconventional, irregular and indirect approaches to eliminate the enemy's ability to strike," he said. "This enemy is adaptable, relentless, and will continue the attack whenever and wherever he finds the opportunity."
It will take a determined national will to win the Long War, he said. And since the war against terror will transcend multiple presidencies and Congresses, bipartisan consensus will be crucial to a successful conclusion, he added.
England likened the challenges associated with the Long War with those of the Cold War. "It was a steady commitment of national and international will, sustained for over 40 years, that succeeded in defeating the communist threat," he said.
The deputy secretary also stressed that the United States will continue to face threats from corrupt regimes that intend to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and from emerging powers that could choose to pursue a hostile course.
"Hostile states or non-state actors could acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, and could strike a shattering blow to the U.S. or our allies," he said. "This is a real danger as corrupt regimes are actively developing WMD (and) while terrorists seek access to WMD."
To guard against this threat and prepare for possible attacks requires that the U.S. pursue new technologies, build new sets of skills, and redouble its counter-proliferation efforts with international partners, he said.
The most effective approach to dealing with emerging powers will be to cultivate cooperation, while taking prudent steps to avoid surprise, he said.
The Defense Department released the 2006 QDR on Feb. 3. It was the fourth QDR, and the first delivered during wartime.
England highlighted the following key objectives of the 2006 QDR:
- Defeat terrorist extremists in the Long War;
- Defend the homeland;
- Help shape the choices of countries at strategic crossroads;
- Prevent the acquisition or use of weapons of mass destruction by hostile state or non-state actors;
- Ensure that the United States maintains its scientific and technological leadership;
- Integrate all the elements of U.S. national power for both homeland and national security;
- Develop an agile management structure for the Department of Defense;
- Meet the security challenges of 21st century with the broad support of all political parties and administrations; and
- Focus on building capabilities, rather than numbers.