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DoD Policy Head Speaks on QDR, Sept. 11 Lessons

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2001 – DoD is just now starting to get a handle on how to define military responsibilities in homeland defense, said Douglas Feith, defense undersecretary for policy.

Feith, speaking at the Fletcher Conference here, said the Quadrennial Defense Review noted that homeland security is the primary mission of the U.S. military. "No one in the department anticipated how large, how complex and how difficult the territorial security responsibilities of the Defense Department were going to be as a result of the (Sept. 11) attack," he said.

The Fletcher Conference is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the Army. The theme this year is "National Security for a New Era."

Feith said this homeland security mission is not going to be temporary. DoD must be prepared to deal with this aspect of national security for the long run.

Feith said "the speculative world of defense planning changed instantly into the high-speed, here-and-now, no- time-for-theory world of military operations" when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Still, some of the issues raised in the QDR's "speculative world of defense planning" apply to those military operations.

The QDR stressed that even with the best intelligence "we cannot avoid surprises," he said. Another aspect the QDR stressed was that the U.S. military needs the ability to take military action quickly anywhere in the world. U.S. forces must be lighter, more mobile and more lethal even in relatively small-scale deployments.

"We won't have six months to 'flow' 500,000 troops into a theater as we did during Desert Shield," Feith said. "The QDR recognizes we may have to fight more quickly with fewer and lighter units in multiple locations simultaneously.

Another pillar of the QDR is the need for continued U.S. forward-basing. The United States needs forward bases to meet its worldwide responsibilities. But even these bases may not be close enough for U.S. forces to use them, he said.

"We may have to operate where we have no bases," Feith said. "That's why the review stressed long-range strike capabilities."

He said the QDR is important, but planners need to incorporate lessons learned since Sept. 11. One specific lesson of the war on terrorism is that terrorist organizations can't do large-scale harm over an extended period unless they have a territorial base of operations. He said this is why the Bush administration stresses the importance of ending state support of terrorism.

"If we are going to succeed, we have to fight (terrorism) at the wholesale level," Feith said. "There are simply too many terrorist organizations and cells to chase after them individually.

"We need a territorial approach. We need to recognize the importance that state support contributes to the operations of terrorist operations. We have to see to it that other governments deny terrorists the territory from which to operate. Some may have to be compelled; some may have to be persuaded."

He said eliminating the territorial base and state support for terrorism will also help the United States address the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. "It is remarkable that the list of countries that support terrorism and the list of countries that are pursuing nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and missiles are remarkably coincident," Feith said.

The undersecretary said there are limits to what military power can do alone. He said every instrument of national power must be applied to defeat terrorism. "Victory will be determined as much on the battlefield of ideas as on the military battlefield," Feith concluded.

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