QDR Allows Options, Capabilities Against Asymmetric Threat
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2006 The first Quadrennial Defense Review undertaken during a time of war provides the military more options and more capabilities, a senior defense official said here today.
A large portion of those options and capabilities come in the form of special operations forces, Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the audience assembled for the 17th Annual National Defense Industrial Association Special Operations/Low-intensity Conflict Symposium and Exhibition.
"QDR, I think, represents not something new in a shift toward the emphasis of special operations, but a continued realization of how that has to be part of our core military capability," Henry said.
The review, conducted every four years, is a 20-year look at the needs and capabilities of the U.S. military. The current review concluded the U.S. military is shorthanded when it comes to the military capabilities needed to address an asymmetric threat, Henry said. It calls for an increase of special operations forces components by 15 percent. Army Special Forces battalions will grow by one-third, Navy SEAL team force levels will grow, and civil affairs and psychological operations will gain 3,700 personnel, a 33 percent increase, he said.
Creation of a special operations forces unmanned aerial vehicle squadron and the recent stand-up of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command also are part of that effort, he said.
The review recommends moving general-purpose forces toward capabilities that would allow them to perform certain operations currently performed by special operations forces, Henry said.
All of these measures, and many more, are needed to fight a prolonged, irregular conflict, Henry said. They also are imperative because of the Defense Department's growing role in civil operations like the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the October 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan.
These humanitarian missions had a great impact on the key group who will win the war on terrorism, Henry said.
"It's not our forces. It's not the Western world that's going to win the global war on terrorism," Henry said. "It is going to be the moderate Muslim population, the ones who are the principal victims of this terrorism." The review applies lessons learned in the last four years and recognizes the importance of building partnership capacity, Henry said. Efforts are needed toward shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads and enabling partner countries to be part of the solution.
"For every American soldier we put into Afghanistan, we could train and equip 14 Afghan soldiers," Henry said. "Those Afghan soldiers are going to understand the local terrain. They're going to understand the local customs and culture, and they're going to be able to speak the language."
Henry called "unity of effort" within the government another key to U.S. success.
"We want to work with other parts of the U.S. government, being able to (use) members of their organizations," Henry said. This would help in situations were the military lacks expertise, he said. For example, he noted, efforts are under way in DoD to work with the State Department's coordinator for reconstruction and stability operations. "We want to work formally ... with them and do everything we can to make them successful," he said.