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Pentagon Crafts Pax Americana

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.


At 1:29 PM, Blogger joŇ°ko said...

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 alone.

"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."


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