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Forming the Plan Behind the Defense Budget

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2002 – The argument over the cancellation of the Army's Crusader artillery system has highlighted a little-known, but important, Pentagon process: the Defense Planning Guidance.

The DPG is where the department takes the defense strategy and applies money to it.

The DPG is not new; the tool has been around for years. It has taken on added importance as Rumsfeld seeks to institute a new military able to face the threats of the 21st century, said a senior defense official speaking on background on May 10.

The Crusader is a good example: DoD announced termination of the Crusader system May 8. The decision, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, was about "a strategy of warfare that drives the choices we must make about how best to prepare the nation's total forces for the future. ... We have an obligation to ensure that U.S. forces will overmatch the capabilities of any potential adversary now and into the future."

The Army has spent $2 billion on the Crusader and would have needed another $9 billion to complete the program. The guidance process that led the Crusader's development started many DoD budgets ago, but a new strategy caused review -- and changes.

The Defense Planning Guidance that the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the services and defense agencies are working on now goes to building the fiscal 2004 defense budget request. That budget will carry forward the transformational aspects of the fiscal 2003 budget now before Congress.

An important note: Some capabilities covered under the DPG will not be ready any time soon. These will not mature until 2010 to 2015. "There are programs that we have under way that have their origins back in the 1980s," said the senior defense official.

The thrust for the DPG comes out of the various studies that were part of the latest Quadrennial Defense Review. The QDR - released last year - defined four major security goals. These are to assure allies and friends, to dissuade enemies from hostile action or from developing threatening capabilities, to deter attacks and finally, if deterrence fails, to defend the country and defeat adversaries. "In order to be able to do these four things in the future, it was our view that we needed to transform the force, given the way the environment was changing and the technical nature of the threat that we were facing was changing as well," said the official.

The force construct also plays a part in DPG decisions. Under this construct the United States must have the capacity to "deter forward." This is in response to "lesser contingencies." "What we want to do over time," the official explained, "is create a force that is capable of rapidly transitioning from that forward deterrent posture and with support from the United States be able to transition rapidly into an effect-based campaign that would be designed to swiftly defeat an adversary in overlapping conflicts, and reserve for the president the ability to win decisively in any given conflict. By that we mean the necessity of either occupation or regime change as part of the conflict.

"(We can) do all that even while looking after defense here at home," the official said. "The question is: What do you need in capability then, in order to be able to meet those goals we talked about and somehow put this planning construct into application."

The 2004 Defense Planning Guidance will build upon the 2003 guidance and change the basic warfighting capability of the U.S. military. It will continue the change from a threat-based approach to a capabilities-based strategy. What that means is the United States does not know what threats may crop up in the future, but the military can develop capabilities that would allow defense planners to field a force to counter and defeat any possible adversary.

The DPG also continues the change from the two-major-theater-war force- sizing construct to the new one: forward defense, two "swiftly defeat" scenarios, with one "swiftly defeat" operation going to "win decisively."

It realizes the need to move from a broad-based political-military engagement to a focused security cooperation. "This will help us encourage allies to develop capabilities that we think will be more useful in the future," the official said. Part of this is a change from "deliberate planning" - a relic of U.S.-Soviet rivalry to "adaptive planning" - a looser, more flexible response.

The final change is the move from a traditional form of warfare, where the United States builds masses of personnel and materiel before engaging in combat, to targeted effects for early superiority. "(Targeted effects) is one way to describe the kind of campaign we conducted in Afghanistan," the official said. "You realize your adversary is himself a networked operation. You look for ways to break down that network and to ensure he can't function. If you do it properly and if you do it well, you develop a level battlefield and battle space superiority over your adversary that is unrivaled."

Some DPG studies under consideration are joint headquarters, force availability, major acquisition programs and the network to meld command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Under joint headquarters the DPG emphasizes joint task force headquarters, more joint training and more joint capabilities.

Force availability has to do with the mix of active and reserve forces and how fast various capabilities will be needed at trouble spots.

OSD and service officials will review major acquisition programs to see if they fit in this new vision. If they don't fit as planned, the study group will ask if they can be modified, if there are other capabilities that could take replace these programs, or should the programs be cancelled.

Building the network to meld the information and get it to the people who need it quickly is crucial to the new strategy. "If we don't do it right, what we'll have is a lot of discrete units that fly around collecting information but we don't merge it properly," he said.

Defense officials will continue DPG work through the summer and in the fall will make decisions on this guidance. The concrete example of DPG work will be unveiled February 2003 as part of the president's proposed defense budget request.

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