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Wolfowitz Explains Pentagon Strategy Changes

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2003 – The 9-11 terrorist attacks confirmed for DoD leaders the need for significant changes in U.S defense strategy to one that would focus on "uncertainty and surprise," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the House Armed Services Committee June 18.

Those changes he said are needed to respond to future threats to the United States for which he said looked "more and more asymmetrical," where adversaries seek to win using nontraditional methods.

He noted that the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center were evidence that adversaries would seek to "avoid U.S. strengths by targeting its weaknesses."

"That attack largely confirmed the strategic direction and planning principles that we had already developed, particularly the emphasis on uncertainty and surprise," he said. "And it confirmed our focus on preparing for asymmetric threats and on the consequent need to respond with agility in unfamiliar places around the world."

Dating to the summer of 2001, as the Pentagon was preparing input for the 2002 Quadrennial Defense Review, Wolfowitz said that both DoD military and civilian leaders had already formulated a "new strategic direction" for the department.

"We agreed, both military and civilians, that there was need for some significant changes in U.S. defense strategy to take account of both the changing threat and the changing nature of our capabilities."

However, he said, "our own asymmetric advantages were enormous and growing, and the increased importance of knowledge, precision, speed, lethality and surprise in the conduct of 21st century military operations gave us potential for large asymmetric advantages over our enemies."

Wolfowitz told the House committee that in developing the "new direction" for the department, the Pentagon leaders looked at certain risks, as outlined in the Defense Department's Annual Report to the President and the Congress.

"We needed to look at risks in more than just the conventional way of the risk of a war if one takes place. That was one dimension of risk," he said. "But after a lot of discussion, we concluded that we needed to be judging the defense program based on how it addressed four categories of risk," he explained.

Those risk categories include:

--Force management risks - investing in people and readiness, which he said deals with "how we sustain our people and our infrastructure."

--Operational risks - sizing and selectively modernizing forces for an era of uncertainty, the "classical warfighting risk," he said.

-- Future-challenges risk or transforming the force-- those risks associated with investments or underinvestment in providing the capabilities that our military will need in the future, he said.

--Institutional risks, which call for better effectiveness through accountability and efficiency, "the risks that come from having inefficient processes and inefficient use of resources," he added.

"What we concluded was that it is very important as we develop our defense program to carefully balance among those four risks, and not simply 'sub- optimize' against a single one at the expense of serious risks in another area," he said.

Wolfowitz said to confront this world where we had to expect even greater surprise than historically, and more uncertainty, the Pentagon shifted its planning from the "threat-driven model" which guided its planning throughout most of the Cold War to a "capabilities-based approach."

"In effect, what we said was that while it is very difficult to predict who might attack us or when and where they might do so, we could hope much better to identify the asymmetric capabilities that they might bring against us, and the asymmetric advantages that we could have in defeating them," he aid.

In addition, he said the Pentagon shifted from a "force-planning construct" that had been focused for the 10 years after the Cold War in dealing with two major regional contingencies in two specific regions -- the Persian Gulf and Korea.

Wolfowitz said that the new force-planning construct, that was detailed in the 2002 QDR report, guides the shaping and sizing of U.S. forces: "first to defend the United States; second, to deter aggression and coercion from a forward posture in critical regions; third, to be able to swiftly defeat aggression in two overlapping major conflicts," he said.

He added the planning also allows for the president to conduct a limited number of small-scale contingency operations.

"In changing from the two-major-theater-war approach, we do not go to a one-war, or a one-and-a-half war, or a strategy of win-hold-win. What we proposed is something entirely different," he told the committee.

Wolfowitz said the department's new approach" shifts the focus of planning from conflicts in Korea and the Persian Gulf, to building a portfolio of capabilities that can deal with the "full spectrum of possible force requirements."

He said the new approach would still enable the United States to prevail in two overlapping conflicts, but the emphasis is on "speed and delivering early combat power" to over-match the enemy.

"We do not want our forces in warfighting theaters to have to wait until reinforcements arrive to blunt an enemy's attack," Wolfowitz noted. He added, "We want our forces to have the capability to defeat attacks early and immediately."

In applying the defense strategy, Wolfowitz told the committee, "We're trying to align all of our activities and programs with that new strategy. And in an operation as large as ours, doing that alignment is not something that happens easily or quickly," he said.

He said the Pentagon plans to "stick with the force structure" that it initially planned in the summer of 2001, but "only after careful examination of proposals both to increase it and to reduce it."

"Indeed, after much analysis in the summer of 2001, we concluded that it would be a mistake to reduce our force structure," he said. "We were initially criticized in that decision for being too conservative, but we felt very strongly on Sept. 12th that the events of the day before had already vindicated our conclusion. I think everything we've seen in the year-and-a-half since then reinforces that conclusion," he added.

But the military's end-strength was only one challenge in the new defense strategy that Wolfowitz brought before the committee. Another challenge before the Pentagon is how best to reshape the force, realign its posture, and manage the force, he said.

"The forces that we have need to be modernized and transformed," he said, adding that the military has made "great strides" during recent military operations. However he said, "there is much more to do."

What the military must do to transform its force is capitalize on force attributes such as knowledge, speed, precision and lethality, Wolfowitz said. He said those attributes were used during military operations in Iraq and are "key to 21st century combat success."

During operations in Iraq, he said use of small special operations units and of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance improved these forces' "knowledge of the location and disposition of enemy forces."

He said speed in battle was demonstrated when U.S. forces arrived in the Iraq theater in less than half the time they did during 1991's Operation Desert Storm.

Also, he noted the "increases in precision-dropped munitions" and the importance of precision that "comes from precise targeting."

"We saw in Afghanistan, we saw in Iraq, something that's been made possible by the networking that we have introduced into our forces, with new information technology that allows brave soldiers on the ground to call in precise targets that airplanes can't see, but that they can hit with incredible lethality," he told the committee.

Wolfowitz said the precise targeting of munitions, coupled close-air support for ground forces produced a lethal effect that "defeated the Iraqi forces across the depth of the battle space," he said.

"In combination, those advances enabled a force about one-half the size to achieve in about one-half the time, using about one-seventh the munitions, a far more ambitious objective even than what we achieved in Desert Storm," he said.

Wolfowitz told the committee that the Defense Department is currently aligning all "our activities and programs with that new strategy." He added, however, that in an operation as large as Defense Department, that alignment is not something that happens "easily or quickly."

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