DOD Leaders: U.S. Will Remain World’s Strongest Military

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2012 — The Defense Department’s new, 10-year strat­e­gy will ensure the Unit­ed States remains the world’s strongest mil­i­tary pow­er, DOD lead­ers empha­sized in week­end inter­views.

In an inter­view with Jim Schi­ef­fer that aired today on the CBS news pro­gram “Face the Nation,” Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and Joint Chiefs Chair­man Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey said the depart­ment is chang­ing to respond to a new glob­al real­i­ty.

The strat­e­gy announced Jan. 5 out­lines defense pri­or­i­ties for the com­ing decade, and empha­sizes trim­ming the force while invest­ing in intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance pro­grams, com­bat­ing anti-access tech­nolo­gies, coun­ter­ing weapons of mass destruc­tion and pre­vail­ing in all domains, includ­ing the cyber world.

“Clear­ly, we face the con­stric­tion of hav­ing to reduce the bud­get by almost half a tril­lion dol­lars,” the sec­re­tary said. “We devel­oped a strat­e­gy that said [the mil­i­tary] is going to be lean­er, it is going to be small­er, but it has to be agile, it has to adapt­able, it has to be flex­i­ble, quick­ly deploy­able, and it has to be tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced. That’s the kind of force we need for the future.”

The department’s plan calls for pri­or­i­ty empha­sis on the Pacif­ic and the Mid­dle East, while main­tain­ing a pres­ence else­where, Panet­ta not­ed.

“The bot­tom line is, when we face an aggres­sor any­place in this world, we’re going to be able to respond and defeat them,” he added. The chair­man said a pop­u­lar mis­con­cep­tion about the new strat­e­gy assumes the nation’s forces will no longer be able to fight more than one con­flict at a time.

“In fact, we were pret­ty adamant that we must be able to do more than one thing at a time, and by the way not lim­it our­selves to two,” Dempsey said. “The threat, and the envi­ron­ment in which we find our­selves in this decade of the 21st cen­tu­ry, sug­gests to us that it’s like­ly to be more than two.”

The strat­e­gy aims to build a force capa­ble across the mil­i­tary oper­a­tional spec­trum with the lead­er­ship, man­ning and equip­ment to pro­vide options to the nation­al com­mand author­i­ty, the chair­man not­ed.

One point that may have been under­em­pha­sized, he added, is that the mil­i­tary has “learned an enor­mous amount over the last 10 years about how to wage war.”

Dempsey said the mil­i­tary has devel­oped strengths unfore­seen a decade ago, not­ing its capa­bil­i­ties in spe­cial oper­a­tions, intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance, and cyber.

“What we’re look­ing to do here is not con­strain our­selves to a two-war con­struct, but rather build a force that has the kind of agili­ty the sec­re­tary men­tioned, that is a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion that will adapt itself to what it con­fronts,” he said.

The mil­i­tary has seen a decade of high demand, and defense lead­ers are work­ing to ensure the force size remains ade­quate and adap­tive to future mis­sions, he said.

“We do have a … sig­nif­i­cant, capa­ble [Nation­al] Guard and reserve com­po­nent, and we do have an active com­po­nent that has learned a lot over the last 10 years,” Dempsey not­ed. “What we’re try­ing to do is break the tem­plate and think about dif­fer­ent ways of accom­plish­ing the task, to give more options to our nation’s lead­ers.”

The geopo­lit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges of 2012 demand a shift in mil­i­tary pow­er, the gen­er­al said.

“What we’re try­ing to do is chal­lenge our­selves to respond to that shift and to react to that strate­gic inflec­tion point,” he said. Dempsey said his con­cern is that in light of chang­ing strat­e­gy and bud­get issues, some will see the Unit­ed States as a nation and a mil­i­tary in decline.

“Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth,” the chair­man assert­ed. “That mis­cal­cu­la­tion could be trou­ble­some … it could cause even our close part­ners to won­der, what kind of part­ner are we? So what I’d like to say right now is, we’re the same part­ner we’ve always been, and intend to remain that way.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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