Military Prepares for Varied Threats, Official Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 28, 2009 The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review now under development envisions a U.S. military with the wherewithal to confront current threats such as al-Qaida as well as having the capacity to meet future security challenges, a senior Defense Department official said here today.
The future security environment “is going to be more challenging” and will “involve a mix of adversaries,” David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development, told reporters attending a Defense Writers Group breakfast. Ochmanek is heavily involved in the development of the 2010 review.
The congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review is conducted by the Pentagon every four years to assess the threats and challenges faced by the United States and to rebalance the Defense Department’s strategies, capabilities and forces necessary to confront today’s conflicts and predicted future security challenges, according to a Defense Department fact sheet.
“There is still a lot of deliberation going on,” Ochmanek said, regarding the ultimate capacity of U.S. forces envisioned in the 2010 review, which is due to Congress by February.
Ochmanek said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has “explicitly” acknowledged throughout the process that the United States has important security interests in multiple regions of the world, and therefore needs to retain the capacity and capability to project power to defend those interests.
“So, there’s very much a desire to keep something like a ‘two-war’ or multi-engagement capacity in the force,” Ochmanek said, noting that he envisions a U.S. military with the necessary force structure to conduct possible wars simultaneously on the Korean peninsula and against Iran.
Gates also believes that the United States requires flexible forces that can engage in the full spectrum of plausible challenges offered by potential foes, Ochmanek said.
U.S. forces deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq now are battling radical extremists, Ochmanek said, while future threats could involve enemies that employ hybrid warfare -- a mix of irregular and conventional tactics and weaponry. For example, the fighting that occurred in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006 pitted Israeli troops against Hezbollah terrorists who used improvised explosive devices as well as state-of-the art anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles.
Ochmanek also observed that the existence of North Korean and Iranian ballistic missiles and those countries’ nuclear arms programs present new and different security challenges than what the United States faced during the Cold War.
However, the U.S. military will be prepared to meet those and future challenges, he said.
“We’re going to field capabilities better suited to this uncomfortable, hybrid environment; we’re going to have the capacity to do multiple things at once,” Ochmanek said.