As this Administration began, the United States had been at war for over seven years. Over 170,000 troops were deployed around the globe in support of a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign. Strategic reviews of two of the longest running military engagements in U.S. history were set to begin within days. At the same time, the new Administration applied fresh eyes to long-standing threats and emerging challenges facing the Department and the nation: from rogue states and terrorist groups seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction; to rising powers building capabilities to narrow the United States' military options; to failed or failing states lacking the ability to police themselves; to the Department's own internal struggles to restructure defense institutions and processes for the 21st century.
These anticipated shifts in strategy, a growing consensus on the need to re-shape and re-balance the direction of the Department and an increasingly challenging security environment have had a profound impact on the first months of this Administration, but the fundamental objectives of the Department of Defense remain unchanged:
The Department has pursued these objectives across the variety of fronts described in this report, including supporting the President's efforts to stimulate the economy, recommending significant reforms to defense capabilities and focus in the proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget, offering policy initiatives in support of the broader national security agenda of the United States, and working with and through partners to achieve desired ends more effectively.
A key component of providing support to American service members, their families and civilian Department of Defense personnel is to provide immediate assistance to them and their communities in this time of economic crisis. Though responsible for less than 1 percent of the total $787 billion stimulus package signed on February 17 by President Obama, the Department of Defense is uniquely positioned to address some of the economic pressures faced by American service members because of their voluntary commitment to serve this nation. Programs in the Recovery Act are also able to take advantage of the Department's national presence. Departmental funding provided by this legislation is spread across fifty states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, furthering President Obama's goal of providing stimulus to the economy while helping to improve the quality of life for troops and their families. The more than 4,000 individual projects include building child care centers, upgrading medical facilities, constructing National Guard facilities, expanding housing for troops and their families and many other efforts, totaling $7.4 billion.
In addition to providing much-needed facility improvements and supporting care for wounded warriors, Recovery Act funds also support important energy research and conservation programs so that the Department can continue to lead the way in the national effort to achieve greater energy independence. In addition to $300 million in research funding, the Act added $120 million to the Department's Energy Conservation Investment Program and supported investments in energy-conscious facility repairs and improvements.
The full package of investments will further the Obama Administration's stated goal of stimulating the American economy, while improving the quality of life for service members, their families, and civilian workers. The Department will spend this funding with full transparency and accountability, and execute initiatives as quickly as possible.
The Department of Defense continues to build on a variety of reform initiatives designed to promote transparency, efficiency and accountability in its activities and programs. Though all crucial to supporting President Obama's goal to build a more responsible, high-performance government, none will have a greater impact on the strategic direction of the Department than the Secretary's recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2010 defense budget. In an effort to explain his priorities clearly and comprehensively with the American people, Secretary Gates took the unprecedented step of making his major budget recommendations public nearly a month in advance of the formal release of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2010 budget. As he made clear in his official statement, this is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world, now and in the future.
The Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal reflects a holistic assessment of capabilities, requirements, risks and needs for the purpose of shifting the Department toward a different strategic direction. The recommendations are directly aligned with the Department's overall objectives of taking care of the troops, prevailing in current conflicts and shaping the Department's capabilities and processes for the 21st century.
The proposed budget recommendations add $13 billion to the base budget in support of troops and their families, ending the use of ad-hoc programs and supplemental funding to support America's greatest strategic national asset. Specific recommendations included:
Second, the proposed budget recommendations seek to institutionalize the capabilities required to fight the wars the nation are in today while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies in the future. Implementation would provide wartime needs with steady long-term funding and a bureaucratic constituency similar to conventional modernization plans. Highlights from this area include:
The Secretary likewise recommended moving away from over-insuring against remote or diminishing risks while still investing in programs necessary to deter aggression, project power when necessary, and protect interests and allies around the globe. Recommendations include:
Third, the budget proposals would take a major step toward reforming the acquisition and procurement culture at the Department. The Secretary's recommendations cancel several programs with execution challenges and take a number of steps to institute much-needed acquisition and procurement reform. These include:
This budget proposes to separate those things that are desirable in a perfect world from those things that are truly needed in light of the threats America faces and the missions the Department is likely to undertake in the years ahead. If approved, its impact will significantly change the direction of the Department and improve how it does business.
Several priority initiatives in support of the President's national security agenda have been implemented in recent months. Each reflects the Secretary's commitment to supporting the warfighter, prevailing in current conflicts and successfully shaping the Department's capabilities and resources; highlights in each category are described below.
In addition to the major programs within the proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget (fully funding end-strength in the base budget, increasing the defense acquisition workforce, increasing funding for the wounded, ill and injured by $300 million), the Department enacted several policy initiatives to support the military, their families and civilian personnel.
In March, the Department of Defense announced a comprehensive plan to eliminate the current use of the practice of "Stop Loss" before January 2010. As part of this effort, the Department has launched a number of retroactive incentive programs to encourage soldiers to voluntarily extend their enlistments. The plan is an important step in reducing the hardship stop-loss has posed to troops and their families and establishing predictability in deployments, one of the President's highest priorities for the Department of Defense.
Improving the outpatient care and transition experience for troops that have been wounded in combat is among the highest priorities of the Department of Defense. The Department has made significant investments in this area over the past few years, and is dedicated to making them a permanent commitment within the Department. The Department has taken several important strides in this area, including:
The Department has also boosted support in a number of ways to recognize the crucial role families play in supporting service members deployed worldwide. Accomplishments include:
In addition to the above efforts, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Military Services have launched new and built on a variety of existing outreach campaigns to educate service members, their families and civilian workers on issues impacting their health, safety and well-being. These include:
After an eighteen year ban, the Secretary has revised the Department's policy regarding media coverage of the return of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at Dover Port Mortuary. The Department has now established a policy giving determination over the presence of media to the primary next-of-kin of those returning. The Department will also facilitate and fund the travel of family members (primary next-of-kin plus two additional family members) wishing to be present at Dover if it all possible.
The Secretary has repeatedly stated his goal of shifting the primary efforts and resources of the Department to responsibly achieving its objectives in current conflicts. In addition to its own extensive internal efforts in this area, the Department has also contributed to several U.S. government initiatives shaping U.S. strategies in key areas, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and U.S. detention policy.
With the input of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders in theater, in February, President Obama announced a new strategy to withdraw responsibly from Iraq. Based on a thorough review initiated at the beginning of the Administration, the President directed U.S. forces in Iraq will change mission by August 31, 2010 and effect complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. The new mission will complete the transition from combat and counterinsurgency activities to a more limited set of tasks: training and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces, providing force protection for U.S. military and civilian personnel and facilities, and conducting targeted counterterrorism operations. Following an initial drawdown period, U.S. forces will remain at a robust level until immediately after Iraq's national elections in late 2009/early 2010 in order to provide maximum security and support during this sensitive period. In support of the President's strategy, the Department has begun drawdown planning efforts that take into account the many complex factors that impact the orderly withdrawal of forces, equipment and materiel over the next two years, with the highest priority given to the safety and security of U.S. forces.
In March, the Administration completed a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, co-chaired by the Department of Defense in consultation with Allies and partners, as well as with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition to clearly stating the goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the President announced several key shifts in strategy the Department is moving quickly to support.
In Afghanistan, military efforts will focus on two priorities:
The Department will also ensure military efforts reinforce U.S. policy goals and are fully integrated with broader diplomatic and development efforts.
In Pakistan, the new policy will strengthen efforts to both develop and operationally enable Pakistani security forces so they are capable of succeeding in sustained counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. The United States will also seek a more strategic partnership with Pakistan that will encourage and enable it to shift its strategic focus to better address this burgeoning internal threat.
Following President Obama's early announcement of a comprehensive new detainee policy, the Department contributed to four senior-level interagency reviews on the Detention Operations Policy, Ensuring Lawful Interrogations, Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the Closure of the Detention Facilities at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The Department is working closely with interagency partners to assess recommendations and prepare to implement President's decisions as he pursues changes consistent with the national security interests of the United States and the interests of justice.
In many statements and actions, the Secretary has committed to shaping the Department's strategy, resources, capabilities and processes to effectively balance the requirements of current threats and future challenges and contingencies. In addition to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal, the Department is pursuing extensive reviews and reforms to acquisition policy and processes, as well as major defense strategy reviews in support of this objective.
Foremost among institutional challenges facing the Department is acquisitions – how it acquires goods and services and manages the taxpayers' money. The continuing economic crisis is an acute reminder that resources are not unlimited and acquisition strategy needs to reflect the actual threats and risks faced by the United States. The President and the Secretary have made it clear that the Department's acquisition processes must reflect a dedication to accountability and oversight, in addition to being able to agilely and responsibly meet to needs of wartime. Within the Department and with partners across the federal government and in Congress, the Department is taking decisive steps to meet these standards, including:
As part of the Department's efforts to shape defense strategy, capabilities, and resources, the Department is dedicating significant resources to the series of defense reviews mandated at the beginning of each Administration. Though previous reviews were criticized for their lack of actual impact on the strategic direction of the Department, senior defense leaders are taking decisive steps to ensure these efforts are fully integrated into relevant Departmental decision-making processes. The reviews are an opportunity to instill the Administration's national security priorities and values into the long-term core efforts of the Department of Defense, as well as an opportunity to reassess the capabilities required to meet the security challenges facing the nation. They include the:
As the Secretary made clear in the June 2008 National Defense Strategy, to succeed in any efforts the Department must harness and integrate all aspects of national power and work closely with a wide range of allies, friends and partners. The Department's recent accomplishments are no exception; interagency and international partners, with the support of Congress and the American people, are key to furthering the Department of Defense's goals.
In addition to the collaborative reviews of Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan Strategy described above, the Department of Defense has initiated several successful cross-government efforts in the first months of this Administration. Notable examples include:
The Department made continuing contributions to the goal of working with and through partner nations to shape opportunities in the international environment to enhance security and avert conflict. Highlights of these efforts include:
Finally, the Department of Defense recognizes that its success is dependent on the strength of the American people, whether partners at universities, non-profit organizations, or the private sector. In addition to working with U.S. government partners to seek ways to bring the expertise of private citizens to national security problems, the Department continues to share its resources across dozens of efforts to spur innovation and learning, including: