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Quadrennial Review Shifts Transformation to High Gear

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2001 – The size of the U.S. military will remain about the same, but portions will be reconfigured to combat asymmetrical threats, according to the Quadrennial Defense Review released to Congress Sept. 30.

A senior defense official said the QDR reinforces the need to transform the military.

The report, available at www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf, is a 65-page blueprint for where the U.S. military needs to go to confront 21st century threats.

"The report was animated in large measure by the notion that, while it is possible for us to imagine how we might be confronted with danger in the future, it was not always clear whence it would come or in what manner the threats would materialize," the official said.

The report envisions a strategy less tied to countering threats from specific countries or groups than countering the threats themselves. In other words, the United States needs different military capabilities. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said America knew where threats were coming from during the Cold War. Today, this is less certain. The country needs capabilities to cover a broad range of threats from the conventional to asymmetrical.

The official said that even before the events of Sept. 11, the QDR had concluded that terrorism, chemical and biological weapons, cyberattacks and missile threats would transform the strategic landscape.

"Adversaries are acquiring such systems, and they've designed those systems and their acquisition to circumvent our conventional military capabilities," he said. "It is not a surprise that we were attacked in a way that our conventional military forces were not designed to defend against at that moment."

The report concludes the United States should anticipate and be prepared to deal with asymmetrical threats to the United States, U.S. allies and U.S. troops deployed abroad.

The QDR also recommends changing the U.S. military's force sizing concept of having enough capabilities to fight and win two near-simultaneous major regional contingencies. The new concept envisions, first, the capabilities to defend the United States, and second, the ability to fight two contingencies at the same time.

The difference is the United States would be able to win one contingency decisively while repelling aggression in the other. The official said this portion of the force sizing concept gives the United States the ability to "deter forward."

A final piece of sizing is having a U.S. military that's large enough to conduct small-scale contingencies.

Where service members will be stationed will also change. The QDR reaffirms America's commitment to Europe, but recommends shifting troops as needed to other areas.

The report did not list weapon systems or platforms that should be scrapped or discontinued. It did not tell the services how to manage their forces.

"The guidance that we were given was that we were not going to do a budget-driven or platform-dominated look," the defense official said. "What the secretary wanted, and what the president asked for, was a strategic perspective on what it is we wanted to do.

The report, coupled with the secretary's fiscal guidance and defense planning guidance, lays the foundation for reviewing current and proposed programs, he said. With that basis, DoD can judge which programs to continue, if any, and how, he added.

Other "transformational" aspects that U.S. strategy will stress include protecting the U.S. base of operations on tactical, operational and strategic levels; information operations; power projection capabilities; space operations; and leveraging information technology.

The official said more work needs to be done to flesh out parts of the Quadrennial Defense Review. He specifically mentioned more work on the handling of the reserve components.

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Related Sites:
Background Briefing on the QDR, Oct. 1, 2001


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