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Background Briefing on the QDR

Presenter: Senior Defense Official
October 01, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Monday, October 1, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

(Background briefing on the Quadrennial Defense Review )

Quigley: Ladies and gentlemen, the Quadrennial Defense Review is a process that's been going on for eight months now, nine months now, ever since this administration came into office. That product was delivered yesterday to some of the oversight committees on the Hill, in larger numbers today. For those of you who had an interest, we handed out paper copies, I guess an hour and a half ago, for your reading.

And here to highlight a couple of those points and take your questions for just 30 minutes before he and I have to be in another event is this senior Defense official.

Q: (Laughs.)

Quigley: So with that, I will turn it over to him. Thank you, sir.

Senior Defense Official: Yes, it ended. That is, the Quadrennial Defense Review ended.

This is it, for those of you who haven't seen it. There are copies that are available. It is a report that is some 65 pages in length. And that, in its own right, I think, is a success, which is to say it is not a long compendium of every issue that confronts the department, but is a concerted effort to try to concentrate on those items which the secretary -- the Defense secretary, the chairman, the vice chairman, the service secretaries, the service chiefs, the combatant commanders, and the lead undersecretaries in the department have all agreed upon.

As you know, the effort began in June, mid-June, with the aim of having a conclusion in hand by the due date on the 30th of September. It -- that date was met. The report was delivered, as Admiral Quigley said, this morning on the Hill, and it was signed out yesterday.

I will touch on a handful of the major points of it and then take questions from you, if that's acceptable to you. There are a handful of points, and let me start with the point about surprise and uncertainty.

The report was animated in large measure by the notion that while it is possible for us to imagine how we might be confronted with danger in the future, it was not always clear from whence it would come or in what manner the threats would materialize. But we were certain that we were going to face surprises as time went by, that the likelihood of being surprised would increase as time went by, principally because of two things: one, the international situation itself continues to evolve and to evolve very rapidly; and second, we live in age in which the availability of the means of conducting surprise or making surprises abounds.

Countries are able to gain the technical means of doing it on the global market. They are capable of moving freely through the international system. And there are, unfortunately, many entities and states who are prepared to support those who would care to bring about the kinds of events that we saw on the 11th of September.

So clearly, we were conscious of the fact that surprise and uncertainty, in that sense, was facing us as we went into the future.

There is, I think, in this report, less uncertainty about being uncertain. And I don't mean to play on words here. We went through most of the '90s with the idea of uncertainty as a general proposition for the way in which we would -- the future would unfold. It seemed to us that the environment itself was becoming less uncertain, even if we weren't quite certain how the surprises would come at us over time.

Forward deterrence. The report is very strong on the notion that the United States must continue to conduct its affairs out in the world. It is very strong on the notion that the ability to defend here at home depends upon our ability to work with our friends and allies abroad, to deter threats both on a regional and a global scale. And I think that you saw in the expression of solidarity out of NATO, on the Article V commitment to the United States, and from the expressions of support that we received from other friends and allies around the world, that they understand that we need to be defended at home, and to be able to be defended at home in order for us to work forward. So there is an interesting sort of new relationship that is evolving here wherein the importance of the United States being forward and being defended at home at the same time is coming to be understood in a way that perhaps it had not been before.

Asymmetric threats. Even before the September 11th events, the QDR concluded that terrorism, chemical and biological weapons, cyberattacks, missile threats, and the like, would transform the landscape in which we live. As I mentioned a moment ago, adversaries are acquiring such systems, and they've designed those systems and their acquisition to circumvent our conventional military capabilities. It is not a surprise that we were attacked in a way that our conventional military forces were not designed to defend against at that moment.

The report does conclude that we should anticipate and be prepared to deal with those asymmetric threats both to the United States and to the homelands of our friends and adversaries (sic), as well as to our forces abroad.

Which leads me to the notion about homeland security. Throughout the summer, the senior civilian and military leaders here worked very hard to develop what you will find in the report is a new approach to sizing our forces. We were looking in that effort to identify the things that we thought the force would actually be called upon to do in all of its dimensions, and to broaden our notion of how we size the force from the two MTW [major theater war] concept, which had dominated our thinking for the -- for most of the '90s and in fact back into the late '80s -- to expand that notion for force-sizing to include not only major conflicts, but also, for example, smaller-scale contingencies, peace-keeping operations, noncombatant evacuations, and the like, but also to lay to lay a stress on the need for a force, or a portion of the force structured and committed to homeland security.

And so in the document, the lead force-sizing criteria is indeed for the capability to conduct homeland security. And it is our view that in the end, that will be a task that will be in large part taken up by the Guard and the Reserve, but not entirely. As you can see by just the reaction here on the 11th of September, we are going to have to work some mix of both the Guard and Reserve on the one hand, and the active component on the other in order to be able to have a seamless defensive capability that extends from our defensive efforts abroad to our active defensive efforts here at home, along with passive efforts having to do with consequence management and things of that sort.

In the end, in order to be able to accommodate what needs to be done in homeland security, we're undoubtedly going to have to go in and look at the Unified Command Plan, which is the basis upon which the department allocates its forces and defines the missions and roles for each of its commands.

We spent a good deal of time, interestingly enough, thinking about risk and how do we assess risk. And four elements of risk were identified in the report, and they, I believe, are detailed at the end. The first had to do with what's called force management, what in the late '90s was worried about as optempo, the operational tempo of the force, and perstempo, the rate at which our people were shuffled from job to job, and the balance of their time on the job abroad as opposed to their being at home and being able to be trained. So we talked about force management a great deal -- how do we get our arms around that problem?

Secondly, we talked about operational risk, how in any given situation we can assure that our forces are not put at any undue -- unnecessary risk in order to be able to achieve the mission. And so that goes to the question of how they're manned, trained, equipped and deployed.

The third element had to do with what was called future challenges, essentially. That is, how is it that in dealing with near-term operational risks -- and you can see it unfolding before you today -- how do you balance the need to be able to do that, to have the forces ready to do that -- that is, your force management regulated in such a way that your people are ready to go -- with the need to put time, resources, training and effort against the transformation of the force? And so we spend a good deal of time trying to work our way through that sort of three-sided problem when it comes to risk.

But there's a fourth element of risk that was identified that is equally important and oftentimes overlooked, and that had to do with, if you want, business management. How are we arranged to conduct the business of the defense establishment as a whole? What are the acquisition policies going to be? How are we going to work on financial management? How do we track our spending? In short, if we can't take that portion of the defense establishment that is associated with the purchasing and supplying of the means of our forces to do their job, we will never be able to transform the department. A 1950 system for acquiring materiel is not going to work in a 21st century environment. So we have got to change that business practice as well. And that is a risk, clearly, that if we don't make the change, it will be very difficult for us to be successful with respect to the other three.

Transforming capabilities. This is the watchword. It goes back to the president's statement at the Citadel prior to the campaign (sic). It is an issue that the secretary took up in his testimony when he was before the Congress -- before the Senate, rather, for his confirmation, and it is one that animated the effort that you see here in the QDR.

And what we did is we identified six critical operational challenges that we believe the force, and the defense establishment as a whole, is going to have to meet in the coming years, and in order to do so, is going to have to transform its approaches to operational concepts. It's going to have to transform its capabilities. It's going to have to learn how to take what is called legacy systems and infuse them with new technologies to lend them new capability. It's going to have to think about new organizational arrangements, and I'll address some of that in a moment.

And then it has to take all of that and pull it together to address the following operational challenges that were identified.

The first was protecting the base of operations, and that is a term which is meant to apply at all three levels of military activity. That is to say, at the tactical level, we clearly have to protect the base of operations. It's otherwise known as force protection. If you can't protect the [USS] Cole, if you can't protect the embassies, if you can't protect the ports and airfields, you can't possibly go about conducting your military operations.

It's also meant at the operational level. You have to be able to protect the command centers, you have to be able to lend support to your allies in defending their own territory against aggression, and so forth.

And it's meant, finally, at the strategic level, which is the defense of the United States, its people, and its way of life.

And so clearly, if we had to be able to protect that base of operation, and as I said a moment ago, we needed to do it against not only the kinds of missiles and missile threats and cyberthreats that we've all become so used to, but the QDR clearly called for an effort to protect them against terrorism as well.

Information operations was the second area that we called out as important for transformational purposes. I don't think I need to develop that point here with you.

Projecting power into anti-access environments. As you look around the world, you'll notice that, for example, surface-to-air missile systems are becoming the most prominent new method of a state acquiring the means of defending itself, and there's a reason for that. It's because air operations are a critical component of any modern warfare capability, and the ability of a state to defend against it is important and contributes to their ability to prevent others to have access. Mine warfare, conventional submarines, fast torpedo boats -- I mean, these are the things that states are turning to as a way of building a barrier to entry into areas which they would like to deny to the United States, its allies, and its friends.

Third, we identified the need to deprive adversaries of what might be called sanctuary -- that is, the ability of an adversary to hide, to deceive, to make it difficult for us to find them, to go deep inside of their territory, where they might not be able to be reached by the kinds of aircraft and ships we currently deploy. So there's got to be a way in which it's possible for us to reach, on a global basis, to find the ability to strike where we need to against adversaries.

Space operations. As most of you know, that -- this is an issue that has gained prominence over the last 18 months or more, and we can see it unfolding even in this conflict, as communications fly back and forth.

You may all recall that your cell phones went dead on the 11th of September, as the system overloaded. Well, part of that has to do with how much of it we can move -- that is communications can move along land lines as opposed to through space, and we need to pay attention to our ability to continue to communicate to, from and in space.

And then lastly, leveraging information technology. Not a point I need to dwell on here. If we can't do I.T. in this department, we're never going to get to where we want to go. And we have to learn how to do it -- we have to learn to do it in a way that gives all of our combatant commanders, as well as the senior political and military leadership of the country, what is called a common operational or strategic picture; that is, taking all that information that floods around the world and finding a way to synthesize it, fuse it, and present it so that decision-makers have a good sense of what's going on in the world around them and are capable of making decisions that are appropriate to the circumstances.

And then last, I mentioned a moment ago the force-sizing construct. You have had the secretary of Defense on this podium any number of times to take you through that. And I wouldn't want to try in any way to defuse any of his definitions for you, but let me give it a shot.

What we're looking to do is we're looking to have a force -- and I've mentioned the components of it now -- which is sized to be able to, first and foremost, defend the United States, the base of operations. Secondly, capable of defending or deterring forward; that is a force which over time their capability will be increased as a consequence of our transformational capability. And that force forward, we think ought to be sized sufficiently such that in any two conflicts, it is capable of defeating the objectives -- the efforts of an adversary. And that means, in my parlance, "win." I mean, it is to say, under those circumstances, be able to win a conflict in two overlapping time frames.

Now, as an aside, there was one sort of conceptual thought that we did not get into this report, and that is that one of those conflicts could, in fact, be a global terrorism campaign, as opposed to a regional campaign. And, in fact, what we are engaged in now is one of those regional -- one of those conflicts that I described a moment ago, in which we are bound and determined to win.

So having sized the force, to deter forward, and be able to win in two overlapping conflicts, we also said that we had to size the force sufficiently such that if the president should ever decide that he wished to not simply win the war, but to decisively defeat an adversary, and as the secretary has described it to you, marching to capitals and overthrowing the regime, then the president ought to have the wherewithal to do that in any one of those two conflicts.

And so then "How do you size the force?" gets to be the operative question. I'm sorry, there's one other piece to it. We had to have enough to conduct small-scale contingencies as well.

So that was the force-sizing construct that we laid down, to which, as I say, all of those who have participated in this effort have agreed and the basis upon which we will go forward from here.

Questions. Yes?

Q: When you talk about conflicts and the two major conflicts, and you talk about a conflict such as the one we're in now against terrorism, are you speaking about the mobilization of forces in the Middle East or actually forces in the U.S. protecting the homeland? Are those two different things or all in one?

Senior Defense Official: They're all in one. This is a global campaign in which we happened for the moment to have activity going on most visibly here at home and in the Southwest Asia region. But it is a global undertaking.

Q: How do you deprive the enemy of his or her sanctuary? Can you run us through your --

Senior Defense Official: Yes. Part of it has to be cooperation with our friends, allies and other states willing to cooperate with us. You can see it unfolding before your eyes in the case of Afghanistan, can't you? It means that we have to have the ability to have intelligence which sees beyond the horizon. It has to mean communications to allow us to move rapidly. And it means having the wherewithal to move our forces quickly and then to strike at long range if that's necessary. So it's that combination, a complex of capabilities, which we need to transform the force to get.

Q Can you get more specific about sizing? I mean, earlier this summer there was talk about cutting four Guard divisions, for example, to make ends meet, particularly for missile defense and ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance]. Since September 11th, has that all changed now? I mean, do you see the force maybe staying as it is now, 1.4 million active, or perhaps even increases?

Senior Defense Official: Let me, at the risk of being contradicted -- I don't know that there was ever a strong push to cut the force. What we had was --

Q: There were some proposals, though, weren't there?

Senior Defense Official: There were a thousand of them.

What we had was a review of capability broadly. And then you ask yourself the question, across the range of capability we require, is the force as we have it today properly sized? Is it properly equipped? How do we balance between our near-term risks and our long-term needs for transition? And you do that in the context of some finite projections on budgets, and you start to move the variables around on the board.

Where the report came out in the end -- and it came out there prior to the 11th of September -- was that it looked like the force was about where it needed to be, in terms of being able to do two things that needed to be done simultaneously. One, meet the near-term risk -- that is, conduct the war that we're presently engaged in, while at the same time having sufficient reserve within it to do the kind of experimentation and change that we're going to need over time to bring it into a different format.

So in the end, what we did is we kept moving the pieces around the board, asking ourselves, do we like this picture? Do we like this -- which one do we like? And in the end, it came out with the force pretty much where it is now.

Q: One other question, too. The Guard and Reserve, you said, will do a lot of the homeland defense --

Senior Defense Official: I think that's the expectation. I don't think that's a decision. You -- no one should walk out of here with a decision's been taken. What it is, is people are beginning to ask themselves, how would we make use of the Guard and Reserve?

Q: They're pretty busy now with peacekeeping duties and so forth.

Senior Defense Official: They're busy everywhere.

Q: So, as far as more training for them, time away from their families --

Senior Defense Official: We're not done with -- that's -- the piece that needed to be done is the Guard and Reserve and we'll turn our attention to that next.

Q: Can you say whether in the current campaign you're up against any of the so-called high-density, low-demand -- sorry, high-demand, low-density issues? And more generally, how, as you move to a capabilities model, how do you deal with that problem?

Senior Defense Official: I won't answer the specific point, but I will say that the issue of high-demand, low-density assets -- that is, U-2 aircraft and combat search and rescue helicopters and things like that -- they are managed in a central way here in the department. They were identified as an area of concern in the report, and one into which in fact more attention -- toward which more attention is being paid. And if we're going to have the capability that we're talking about for the future, that problem is going to have to be overcome.

Q: Why was there no mention of specific systems in the report, in terms of -- I mean, I was wondering if that -- if there was a reason for that, or was it -- were there ever slated? I mean, in the previous QDR, we had a specific lay-down of how many of these systems were expected. What's changed between --

Senior Defense Official: Well -- between '97 and now.

The guidance that we were given was that we were not going to do a budget-driven or platform-dominated look. What the secretary wanted and what the president asked for was a strategic perspective on what it is we wanted to do. This report, coupled with the fiscal guidance that the secretary's put out, coupled with the defense planning guidance that he has published, in fact lays foundation for the review now of the programs that are in hand and those that are being proposed, and gives us a basis now for judging which, if any of them, we're going to continue, and in what way.

Quigley: Just one or two more, please, ladies and gentlemen.

Q: How much different would this report be if it had come out before September 11th?

Senior Defense Official: Substantially, not much. I -- no, I have to admit that you will find within it references to the event on the 11th of September, but my colleague over here had spent the previous weekend literally writing it -- you know, pulling all the thoughts together, getting it smoothed down. So it was -- the draft was finished. In fact, he walked up the steps the following morning, and I said, "I want you to go back, and I want you to get this finished, because it's important, and we need to be -- to get it out." So it was substantially completed.

Q: Can you describe the follow-on study that will focus on fighting terrorism?

Senior Defense Official: I'd have to get back to you. I mean, there's a long list of them that are in here, and I -- now is not the time for me to go through -- I'd be happy to do it at some point, if you'll take the point, Craig, and we'll get back to you. It's an interesting question

(Cross talk.)

Q: You say in here that you're restoring --

Quigley: Hang on. Hang on.

Q: There's hardly any emphasis on NMD, or missile defense. What's the reason?

Senior Defense Official: Ah. For the same reason over here. Missile defense as a particular capability is -- gets as much emphasis as does intelligence capabilities, as the ability to project power. All right. It is an element of the entire capability of the United States. It is not the only capability that we are attempting to transform, and it is essential to the homeland defense and the protection of the base of operations.

I can take one more.

Q: The report makes mention of looking into additional overseas bases, different deployments overseas.

Senior Defense Official: Yeah.

Q: Is it fair to say that this report calls for a greater military presence forward-deployed than we have today?

Senior Defense Official: No, I wouldn't walk away with it being greater. I think the thrust of the report -- and if you look in the section on posture -- is that the posture may need to be adjusted. That is to say, the places where additional attention may be needed are called out. The need to maintain our posture in Europe, for example, is affirmed, because of the importance of Europe. But within the broad deployment of our forces, we may need to kind of adjust here and there to account for circumstances, as you are in fact seeing at the moment.

I'm sorry. I really do have to run. I thank you for your time. And Craig, it's all yours.

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