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Global Military Posture's Part in Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2003 – Transformation is more than just new capabilities. Inherent in transformation is a physical change of the global military posture, said Andrew Hoehn, deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy, today.

Hoehn spoke at the Fletcher Conference, sponsored by the Institute of Foreign Policy and the U.S. Navy. He said the military has been involved in military transformation for a number of years, but defense personnel are still grappling with the implications of this "megatopic."

Hoehn said transformation is characterized by operations conducted with knowledge, speed, precision, lethality and surprise. "But as we look at how the world is changing, how our relationships are changing, how we come to understand those challenges, we also come to understand how that transformation is still quite incomplete," he said.

To reap the real benefits of transformation, he said, "we also need to reassess the types, locations, numbers and capabilities of our military forces worldwide."

The global military posture "is not yet a full reflection of the challenges that we confront in today's world," Hoehn said. Today's posture is a legacy of the Cold War, with too many troops in Europe and Northeast Asia.

The posture is not agile, lean or fast enough to deal with the challenges posed by terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, rogue states and other new threats, he said.

The change in the global posture must reflect a shift in military thinking. "That shift is that our forces are no longer expected to fight in place; rather, we will call on our forces to project into areas that may be close or distant," he said.

There are a number of aspects involved with global military posture. The first, Hoehn said, is the "footprint" of the forces. This refers to the infrastructure necessary to maintain forces.

The second is the presence of U.S. forces. He characterized that as "those capabilities in those locations that are there to provide either reassurance to allies and partners or to deter and/or dissuade those who would challenge the United States our allies or our interests."

The third aspect is the pre-positioning of equipment and supplies. Pre-positioned equipment should facilitate movement of U.S. forces to areas they are needed.

Two final elements are the notions that the United States will "source" forces globally and not just within a region. "We need to think about the assignment of forces globally and the movement of forces to where and when they are needed," he said.

Finally, the United States must be able to surge forces to crises areas as needed.

The need for these changes is already apparent, he said. The United States must have standing joint command and control in forward areas with associated reconnaissance and surveillance assets. "We can't afford to have 'pick-up' teams in this era," Hoehn said.

Forward forces also need to be the early arriving forces, he said. In the past this meant combat-arms personnel and airpower. Now, for example, this could mean a missile defense capability for a region or civil affairs units.

The cutting-edge capabilities the United States now has should be deployed to allow allies to emulate those capabilities. "As new capabilities like Stryker (wheeled combat vehicle) come on line, we believe it is important that they be positioned in forward areas to be responsive, but also available for allies and partners to have a sense of how our own forces are changing," he said.

Pre-positioning will be done along major transportation routes to facilitate movement to the fight.

Hoehn said there will be less emphasis on large U.S. bases and more emphasis on the development of "warm" facilities and austere infrastructure. "The goal here is to provide flexibility to contend with the uncertainty we think characterizes this environment," he said.

Discussions with allies are under way. For example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is bringing up these issues at the Brussels, Belgium, NATO Ministerial Dec. 1-2. Discussions will continue with allies and partners in Asia and the Middle East. Hoehn said these talks are critical to putting alliances on a "viable path to meet the kind of challenges we see coming in the years and decades ahead."

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