San Diego Union-Tribune

October 2, 2002

Strategy review calls for homeland defense 


WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department yesterday sent Congress a sweeping review of strategy that calls for a dramatic shift in the military's emphasis from fighting and winning two major foreign conflicts to defending the homeland and U.S. interests worldwide from unconventional and unpredictable threats.

The new strategy "restores the defense of the United States as the (Defense) Department's primary mission," the Quadrennial Defense Review said.

The review, required every four years, "was substantially completed" before Sept. 11, a senior defense official said, but was revised to reflect the coordinated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The devastating terrorist attacks "confirm the strategic direction and planning principles that resulted from this review, particularly its emphasis on homeland defense, on surprise, on preparing for asymmetric threats, on the need to develop new concepts of deterrence," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

But, Rumsfeld added, the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington "will require us to move forward more rapidly in these directions, even while we are engaged in the war on terrorism."

In Pentagon jargon, asymmetrical war involves threats that circumvent U.S. superiority in conventional warfare methods. These include not only the bomblike terrorism of jetliner attacks, but also biological, chemical and cyber assaults.

Preceded by a host of studies Rumsfeld ordered on strategy, force structure, personnel issues and weapons programs, the congressionally mandated review was expected to demand sweeping revisions of the existing military force size and make-up and cancellation of some of the costly weapons under development. Instead, it endorsed -- at least for now -- the current active and reserve force structure and deferred decisions on weapons programs until completion of yet more studies.

The dramatic shift in strategy and focus, however, is almost certain to require substantial future changes in the type of forces and weapons and in their distribution around the world.

The report sent to Congress is "not so much an end but a beginning" of a prolonged effort to transform the U.S. military into a lighter, quicker reacting force to meet the challenges of the 21st century, the 77-page document said.

Although President Bush came into office expressing considerable reserve about getting involved in foreign affairs, the review declares that protecting America's interests and its allies "places emphasis on peacetime forward deterrence in critical parts of the world."

And it calls for a new focus on Asia, warning of the possibility that "a military competitor with a formidable resource base will emerge in that region," an obvious reference to China.

That focus on forward deployed forces, and a call to realign overseas forces from Europe and Northeast Asia to the Persian Gulf, South Asia and other areas of the world could mean more demands for Navy and Marine Corps units.

The report specifically calls for the Navy to increase aircraft carrier presence in the Western Pacific and "to explore options for homeporting an additional three or four surface combatants and guided missile submarines in that area."

It also tells the Navy to develop new concepts for maritime prepositioning of equipment, high-speed sealift and new amphibious capabilities for the Marines.

While the report does not deal with individual weapons or equipment programs, it places great emphasis on improving reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, including unmanned aerial vehicles. Several major
UAV systems are being developed by San Diego-based companies.

As widely expected, the review scraps the decade-old requirement for the military to be able to fight and win two major theater conflicts at nearly the same time.

That is replaced by a slightly modified requirement to be able to prevail in multiple conflicts, without necessarily conquering both adversaries.

The new strategy has four goals of: Assuring allies of U.S. ability to fulfill its commitments, dissuading adversaries from threatening actions, deterring
aggression by deploying the capability to swiftly defeat attacks and decisively defeating any adversary if deterrence fails.

The report highlighted the fact that "we cannot and will not know precisely where and when America's interests will be threatened, when America will come under attack or when Americans might die as a result of aggression. . . .
We should try mightily to avoid surprise, but we must also learn to expect it."

As a result, "adapting to surprise -- adapting quickly and decisively -- must therefore be a condition of planning," it said.

The New York Times and Knight Ridder news services contributed to this report.