Global Posture Part and Parcel of Transformation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2004 The global posture of American troops is part and parcel of the transformation of the U.S. military, said the Joint Staff's deputy director for strategy and policy.
Navy Rear Adm. Richard Hunt said a global readjustment of American forces is overdue and, with other changes, will increase U.S. military capabilities with fewer forces.
The global posture changes will allow the president to reposition forces more quickly, and this could allow the forces to deter problems before they escalate to conflict or to stomp out small conflicts before they grow, Hunt said.
Global posture is transformational, Hunt said. "It goes hand in hand with other transformation areas we're working," he said. "In the past, we've developed war plans, put them on the shelf, and dusted them off when we needed to execute them.
"We're beyond that," he continued. "The environment we have to operate in is just too quick."
American forces are moving around the world. U.S. forces in South Korea will drop by 12,500 personnel over the next three years. Those forces have been in some of the same positions in Korea since the armistice was signed in 1953. "In the meantime, the Republic of Korea has grown economically and matured politically," Hunt said. The Korean military has grown, become more professional and has many world-class capabilities. Further, the country has a well-integrated command-and-control network with U.S. forces in Korea.
"The U.S. contribution in Korea comes less from troop numbers than from better intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," Hunt said. The United States will invest more than $11 billion over the next few years to improve these capabilities.
The other piece to global posture in Korea is the consolidation of forces into better locations. Hunt said U.S. forces must get out of areas that are now overly congested. "We don't want to be stepping all over our host nations," he said. "We want to exist in a very non-intrusive way."
Fifty years ago, these areas were in the middle of nothing. U.S. forces could train right outside the gates. Now, apartment complexes, industrial parks or other developments surround many of the bases. Consolidating forces further south will allow the troops that remain in Korea improved access to training areas. It will improve their mobility and will simplify the force-protection equation, Hunt said.
"This improves the overall combat effectiveness," Hunt said. "The lower (U.S.) numbers do not diminish the ability to accomplish the mission. In fact, U.S. capabilities are enhanced."
American forces permanently based in Europe will drop from about 100,000 to around 50,000. U.S. European Command officials said the tentative plan is for the two heavy divisions in Europe to return to the United States. In their place will be a Stryker brigade in Germany, a light infantry brigade in Italy, and another light brigade "in Eastern Europe," officials said.
Hunt said the key to a U.S. posture shift in Europe is that it is being done in close collaboration with allies. "We are working closely with our allies," Hunt said. "They understand what we are doing and why."
Many NATO allies are going through the same restructuring process, he said. There is no need for a defensive posture in Europe in the traditional sense. "We have succeeded over last 60 years," he said. "Now we need to apply those kind of forces to other regions."
Hunt said the global posture picture will constantly change in the future. "If someone were to ask me what the global posture will be over the next decade, my answer is 'I don't know,'" he said. "We cannot predict where threat will be. The whole global posture effort will provide the military with the opportunity to be more dynamic."