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U.S. Global Posture Realignment Process Will Take Time

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2003 – Although DoD is planning to realign its global forces to better confront 21st century threats, U.S. troops and families stationed overseas shouldn't pack their bags just yet.

Using lessons learned from recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Department is transforming itself to meet the challenges of worldwide terrorism and other threats, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said today at the Army-Navy Club here.

The Defense Department's current global force posture, Feith said, "still reflects in many ways the mentality and reality of the Cold War era," where large overseas concentrations of American troops served as "defensive, 'tripwire' units that were expected to fight near where they were based."

Those kinds of legacy-based forces deployed under such an arrangement, Feith pointed out, "are not the agile, fast, lean forces we need for the future."

New and emerging threats to U.S. national security -- such as shadowy terrorist organizations and their rogue state enablers -- requires forces that aren't arrayed "to fight in place," Feith declared.

Terrorists have the ability to strike anywhere at anytime, Feith pointed out, and "can command formidable destructive power," especially when weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles are factored in.

Ungoverned areas of the world, Feith said, may "serve as breeding grounds for global terrorism," noting that "threats from these sources may require immediate military responses."

Therefore, DoD will develop military forces, he explained, that can "project power into theaters that may be distant from where they are based."

As part of that effort, Feith noted that DoD is "aiming to achieve the most basic and comprehensive review of the nation's global defense posture since the United States became a world power."

However, American troops now serving in South Korea, Germany and other overseas locales, DoD spokesman Army Maj. Paul Swiergosz cautioned, "don't need to worry about whether or not they're going to be coming back (soon), (or) whether or not the moving vans are going to be pulling up tomorrow."

For one thing, Swiergosz noted, consultations with U.S. allies about any possible movement of U.S. troops currently stationed overseas are still ongoing.

And the service chiefs of staff, unified combatant commanders and other senior DoD military and civilian leaders, he pointed out, will also weigh in before any final decisions are made to move troops.

"The 'trigger-pullers' (in the field) are going to have their say on this as well," Swiergosz emphasized.

Consequently, he noted, any realignment of U.S. military overseas presence will involve a process "that's going to take place over months and years not weeks."

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