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Pace Says Planning Guidance Will Reshape Military

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2002 – The vice chairman today discussed the nuts and bolts behind the current capabilities planning guidance process that U.S. combatant commanders are going through.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace said the studies combatant commanders are making would set the capabilities the Defense Department must build toward. He was speaking to an audience here at the Fletcher Conference, a joint effort of the Marine Corps and the Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently sent his contingency planning guidance to the combatant commanders. "Rather than look for a two-year cycle on war plans, he has directed them to come in within six months with their first cuts on changing the major battle plans for the nation," the general said.

Rumsfeld's direction requires the commanders to update battle plans that, in some cases, may have been on the shelf for the past five to 10 years. Commanders will take a first cut at these new plans within the next six months, Pace said. The combatant commanders will work with the secretary and the Joint Chiefs to lay out the exact assets they need to accomplish their missions, he added.

"A new part of the puzzle is what we are calling an 'operational availability study,'" Pace said. "Put simply, how much of the nation's combat capability do we want to be able to deliver anywhere in the world and in what time?"

Pace used Army divisions as an example. The Army has 10 divisions. "If we can get five divisions anywhere in the world in five months, is that satisfactory?" he said. "If the Army could get three divisions anywhere in 30 days, what would be the impact?"

He said that in the past three months, the military has analyzed current war plans and asked commanders whether the plans meet their requirements. The responses have been positive, he said. But what Pace said he doesn't know is whether commands are scaling war plans to fit the resources they have or the resources needed and truly available to accomplish the mission.

He said the same questions go with any other resource. How many airplanes do combatant commanders need? If they could arrive faster, what would that mean? How about carrier battle groups? If freed of current constraints, how would you fight the war?

"Once we identify the changes we can make, there are decision points," Pace said. The services and the chiefs can go to the secretary and say how things can change. "(If the secretary doesn't) like the fact that it takes this many divisions this many days, there are things you can do," he said. Among the solutions are more overseas basing, more pre-positioned equipment, faster ships and more airlift.

He said deployment speed is a great force multiplier, but it is expensive.

The new look at the military will mean changes to many aspects of the military. Using Pace's division example, perhaps this might mean Army divisions 10 or 15 years from today may be a third smaller. The Army today has six heavy and four light divisions.

"We should look at designing the objective force so that each of the divisions is interchangeable," Pace said. "They should be ready to go to Korea or be ready to go to Iraq and end up going to Afghanistan."

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