War on Terrorism

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Afghanistan, Iraq Drive Landmark Defense Review

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Dec. 2, 2009 - The Quadrennial Defense Review under way within the Defense Department will be unlike any other: the first to be driven by current wartime requirements, to balance conventional and nonconventional capabilities, and to embrace a "whole of government" approach to national security, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today. "This is a landmark QDR," Lynn told aerospace executives at the Aerospace and Defense Conference. "And it comes at a time when the nature of war is changing in ways that we need to adapt to. ... The QDR seeks to identify these changes and the challenges they present to our security."

The fiscal 2010 budget provided an important running start to the QDR, Lynn said. Difficult funding decisions made during the budget process reflect President Barack Obama's and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' strategic priorities, he said, and the QDR will build on this as it projects the way ahead.

Unlike previous QDRs, the current review puts the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq front and center, Lynn said.

"Secretary Gates has made clear that the conflicts we're in should be at the very forefront of our agenda," and set the priorities, Lynn told the executives. "He wants to make sure we're not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing."

The upcoming QDR also will reflect the changing nature of war and the threats the United States faces, he said.

Lethality no longer is directly related to a potential adversary's capabilities, Lynn said. Insurgents and nonstate actors pose a threat once considered possible only at the highest ends of the lethality spectrum. The lines between conventional and conventional threats become increasingly blurred, Lynn said, as low-end actors gain access to high-end capabilities.

That demands that U.S. forces be agile enough to respond to low- and high-end as well as hybrid threats, he said. "They need what Secretary Gates has called the portfolio of military capabilities, with maximum versatility across the widest spectrum of conflict," he said. "This includes the ability to fight irregular conflicts."

So the upcoming QDR will seek to institutionalize both irregular warfare capability and an ability to stand up to other new and emerging threats, Lynn said, including cyber-threats, anti-satellite technologies and other asymmetric tactics that challenge U.S. conventional dominance.

With some 15,000 computer systems and 7 million computer devices, the Defense Department makes a tempting target to cyber-terrorists and more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations to hack into them, Lynn said.

"This is not an emerging theat. It's not a future threat. The cyber threat is here today," he said.

In response, Lynn said the QDR will address better ways to deter attacks on Defense Department systems while promoting an internal culture of responsibility that helps to safeguard information technology.

Meanwhile, Lynn said, the upcoming QDR will be linked to an unprecedented degree to a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review under way within the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

That review "takes a hard look at the role of civilian instruments in our foreign policy," Lynn said, and has big implications for the Defense Department.

"How we enroll all dimensions of our national power to avoid military action, or to ensure its success, are vital questions -- questions with both policy and institutional ramifications," he explained. Conducting the two reviews in concert will provide the administration more powerful, better coordinated interagency tools and approaches, he said.

For the Defense Department to adapt to be ready to respond to the broad range of potential threats requires a hard look at fixing shortcomings in its acquisition system, Lynn told the group. That's particularly true with multiple competing funding priorities during a time of constrained resources.

"A modern, effective acquisition system should deliver savings and speed: savings to taxpayers, speed for warfighters," he said. "And as we all know, today's acquisition system often does neither."

Lynn expressed confidence that an overhaul already under way, and to be an important part of the upcoming QDR, will accomplish what countless past efforts haven't. Gates has made acquisition reform a top priority. The president has firmly, and publicly, supported the effort. Congress passed landmark acquisition reform legislation. And change is taking place within the Defense Department to bring more expertise, discipline and constraint to the process.

"For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business," Lynn said.

1 comment:

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Take this to the bank:

We will lose the war in Afghanistan. Just as in Iraq, every serviceman or woman who has died there has died for no reason. Russia and merrie old England learned this lesson a long time ago. You would think....Never mind.

Suffice to say, on my best day I do not receive one tenth of the information that President Obama receives. I don't read any of the Presidential Daily Briefings that are placed on his desk every morning. Obviously he is in possession of a wealth of intelligence that you and I are just not privy to. Maybe we should be giving him the benefit of the doubt - and I have been doing just that, I promise you. But from my vantage point it appears to me that this president has failed to learn the lessons that have been passed onto us down the decades by the administrations of Franklin Delano Rossevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson - lessons involving bold action in times of economic crisis (more on that another day) and the utter folly of waging wars that cannot be won.

Let this be etched in stone:

Any country that would view its women as inferior beings not entitled to basic human rights is not worth one drop of ANYBODY'S blood.

I want to believe in this president. He is the chief executive I worked harder to elect than any other in my lifetime. I realize that it is simply far too early in this administration to write a final assessment of his term of office. That being said, my confidence in the Obama White House is ebbing rapidly. Where in the hell is all of this change I could believe in? Is the Bush Mob still in charge? What gives?


No, I am still exceedingly grateful that John McCain and Gidget von Braun did not win the election last year. Have another sip.


Tom Degan
Goshen NY