Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today issued a comprehensive assessment of the nation's defense requirements, based on emerging threats to U.S. security over the next two decades and a strategy that maintains American leadership, engagement and military superiority into the 21st century. He also called for a bipartisan commitment to stable defense spending and increased modernization.
Cohen sent to Congress the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a six-month analysis of the “threats, risks and opportunities for U.S. national security.” The QDR reviewed all aspects of the U.S. defense strategy and program, including force structure, infrastructure, readiness, intelligence, modernization and people. The review was a collaborative effort involving the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, military services, and unified commands.
“The time has come to step into the future, to look at the world ahead and ask, what will America's role be? What type of military do we need for the 21st Century?” said Cohen. “The QDR calls for a defense strategy that balances continued American engagement today with a focused modernization effort to meet tomorrow's challenges.”
To promote and protect U.S. interests, the QDR strategy has three main elements: first, the ability to shape the international environment by promoting regional stability, preventing or reducing conflicts and threats, and deterring aggression and coercion on a day-to-day basis in key regions of the world; second, the need to respond quickly to the full spectrum of crises, from conducting concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations to fighting and winning two major theater wars; and, third, the mandate to prepare now to meet the security challenges of an unpredictable future and discourage prospective rivals from embarking on a military competition with the U.S. This strategy was the conceptual foundation of the review and the QDR programmatic decisions.
Implementing the strategy will require “quality people, ready forces and superior organization, doctrine and technology,” according to the review. The QDR recommends modest cuts in personnel strength and weapons programs. These prudent reductions, along with systemic improvements in the infrastructure, will allow the U.S. military to meet the near- term requirements of shaping and responding, and long-term modernization to prepare for the future, ending the “procurement holiday” of recent years. The QDR assumes that defense spending will remain relatively constant in the future.
As part of the restructuring of the force, the total active duty end strength will be reduced from the previously planned level of 1.42 million to 1.36 million. The Reserve forces will decline to 835,000 from 890,000, and the civilian force will fall to 640,000 from 720,000. The major force structure and modernization decisions include:
Army: Accelerates Force XXI modernization plan; retains 10 active, combat-ready divisions; reduces the force by 15,000 active duty personnel by deactivation, consolidation and realignment of headquarters and support facilities; and reduces its Reserve component by 45,000 through restructuring, deactivation, and conversion.
Navy: Retains 12 carrier battle groups and 12 amphibious ready groups; reduces surface combatants in the fleet from 128 to 116; reduces attack submarines from 73 to 50; increases the Navy's planned Joint Strike Fighter buy to 480 aircraft; reduces the planned F/A-18E/F buy from 1,000 to between 548 and 785; reduces active duty personnel by 18,000; and reduces Reserve component by 4,100 personnel.
Air Force: Shifts one fighter wing from active to reserve component (total force becomes 12 active and 8 reserve wings); consolidates fighter and bomber units; reduces force structure for continental air defense; reduces active duty personnel by 27,000; and reduces planned F-22 procurement from 438 to 339.
Marine Corps: Maintains 3 Marine Expeditionary Force capability; restructures support responsibilities; and accelerates MV-22 procurement while reducing buy to 360.
Missile Defense: Retains National Missile Defense as high priority, adding $2B to its development; and slows THAAD theater missile defense program due to technical problems.
Nuclear Forces: Maintains current START I force structure. After Russian Duma ratification, will reduce to START II levels and negotiate further reductions following the START III framework.
Infrastructure: Requests authority from Congress for two rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), including a consolidation of laboratories and research, development and test facilities; seeks additional outsourcing and opportunities to reengineer DoD business practices; and calls for broad infrastructure deregulation to permit more efficient operations.
C4ISR: Maintains current focus on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
The Department reaffirms its commitment to achieving a $60 billion procurement program. This increased investment in modernization will exploit the revolution in military affairs and provide the military with cutting-edge technology to dominate tomorrow's battlefield. Accelerating the integration of future technology into the force is a cornerstone of Joint Vision 2010, the Chairman's template for joint technologies and operations in the 21st century.
“We need to cut our support tail in order to preserve our combat tooth and protect our people and their quality of life,” Secretary Cohen said. “Our infrastructure is still too large for our force structure today. Our purchasing system is still too cumbersome, slow and expensive. We still do too many things in- house that we can do better and cheaper through outsourcing.”
In addition to the actions proposed by the QDR, Secretary Cohen recently established a Defense Reform Task Force to review the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DoD agencies and field activities, and the military departments. Its purpose is to find ways to consolidate functions, eliminate duplication of effort and improve efficiency within the Department. This initiative was based on requirements identified during the QDR. The Task Force will work with the National Defense Panel, which will review the QDR, and report to Congress at the end of the year.