Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is
Key To Pentagon Plan
Conventional Tactics De-Emphasized
by Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post, February 4, 2006
The Pentagon, readying for what it calls
a "long war," yesterday laid out a new 20-year defense
strategy that envisions U.S. troops deployed, often clandestinely,
in dozens of countries at once to fight terrorism and other nontraditional
Major initiatives include a 15 percent
boost in the number of elite U.S. troops known as Special Operations
Forces, a near-doubling of the capacity of unmanned aerial drones
to gather intelligence, a $1.5 billion investment to counter a
biological attack, and the creation of special teams to find,
track and defuse nuclear bombs and other catastrophic weapons.
China is singled out as having "the
greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States,"
and the strategy in response calls for accelerating the fielding
of a new Air Force long-range strike force, as well as for building
undersea warfare capabilities.
The latest top-level reassessment of strategy,
or Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), is the first to fully take
stock of the starkly expanded missions of the U.S. military --
both in fighting wars abroad and defending the homeland -- since
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The review, the third since Congress required
the exercise in the 1990s, has been widely anticipated because
Donald H. Rumsfeld is the first defense secretary to conduct one
with the benefit of four years' experience in office. Rumsfeld
issued the previous QDR in a hastily redrafted form days after
the 2001 strikes.
The new strategy, summarized in a 92-page
report, is a road map for allocating defense resources. It draws
heavily on the lessons learned by the U.S. military since 2001
in Iraq, Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations. The strategy
significantly refines the formula -- known as the "force
planning construct" -- for the types of major contingencies
the U.S. military must be ready to handle.
Under the 2001 review, the Pentagon planned
to be able to "swiftly defeat" two adversaries in overlapping
military campaigns, with the option of overthrowing a hostile
government in one. In the new strategy, one of those two campaigns
can be a large-scale, prolonged "irregular" conflict,
such as the counterinsurgency in Iraq.
In the 2001 strategy, the U.S. military
was to be capable of conducting operations in four regions abroad
-- Europe, the Middle East, the "Asian littoral" and
Northeast Asia. But the new plan states that the past four years
demonstrated the need for U.S. forces to "operate around
the globe, and not only in and from the four regions."
Yet, although the Pentagon's future course
is ambitious in directing that U.S. forces become more versatile,
agile and capable of tackling a far wider range of missions, it
calls for no net increases in troop levels and seeks no dramatic
cuts or additions to currently planned weapons systems.
For example, the active-duty Army will
revert by 2011 to its pre-2001 manpower of 482,400, with the additional
Army Special Operations Forces incorporated in that number, defense
officials said. The Air Force will reduce its strength by about
Moreover, the review's key assumptions
betray what Pentagon leaders acknowledge is a certain humility
regarding the Defense Department's uncertainty about what the
world will look like over the next five, 10 or 20 years, as well
as its realization that the U.S. military cannot attain victory
"U.S. forces in all probability will
be engaged somewhere in the world in the next decade where they're
not currently engaged. But I can tell you with no resolution at
all where that might be, when that might be or how that might
be," Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense
for policy, said at a Pentagon news briefing unveiling the QDR.
"Things get very fuzzy past the five-year
point," Henry said of the review in a talk last month.
At the same time, Henry stressed yesterday,
"we cannot win this long war by ourselves."
When a major crisis, such as a terrorist
strike or outbreak of hostilities, occurs -- requiring a "surge"
in forces -- the U.S. military will plan for "somewhat higher
level of contributions from international allies and partners,
as well as other Federal agencies," the review concludes.
The new strategy marks a clear shift away
from the Pentagon's long-standing emphasis on conventional wars
of tanks, fighter jets and destroyers against nation-states. Instead,
it concentrates on four new goals: defeating terrorist networks;
countering nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; dissuading
major powers such as China, India and Russia from becoming adversaries;
and creating a more robust homeland defense.
Central to the first two goals is a substantial
15 percent increase in U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF), now
with 52,000 personnel, including secret Delta Force operatives
skilled in counterterrorism.
The review calls for a one-third increase
in Army Special Forces battalions, whose troops are trained in
languages and to work with indigenous fighters; an increase in
Navy SEAL teams; and the creation of a new SOF squadron of unmanned
aerial vehicles to "locate and target enemy capabilities"
in countries where access is difficult.
In addition, civil affairs and psychological
operations units will gain 3,500 personnel, a 33 percent increase,
while the Marine Corps will establish a 2,600-strong Special Operations
force for training foreign militaries, conducting reconnaissance
and carrying out strikes.
"SOF will increase their capacity
to perform more demanding and specialized tasks, especially long-duration,
indirect and clandestine operations in politically sensitive environments
and denied areas," the report says. By 2007, SOF will have
newly modified Navy submarines, each armed with 150 Tomahawk missiles,
for reaching "denied areas" and striking individuals
or other targets.
"SOF will have the capacity to operate
in dozens of countries simultaneously" and will deploy for
longer periods to build relationships with "foreign military
and security forces," it says.
To conduct strikes against terrorists
and other enemies -- work typically assigned to Delta Force members
and SEAL teams -- these forces will gain "an expanded organic
ability to locate, tag and track dangerous individuals and other
high-value targets globally," the report says.
The growth will also allow for the creation
of small teams of operatives assigned to "detect, locate,
and render safe" nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
-- as well as to prevent their transfer from states such as North
Korea to terrorist groups.
To strengthen homeland defense, the report
calls for improving communications and command systems so that
military efforts can be better coordinated with state and local
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