USAQDR Panel Calls for More Force Structure Changes

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment must plan to main­tain recent addi­tions to the ground forces for the fore­see­able future and boost its long-range strike, mar­itime and cyber capa­bil­i­ty to con­front glob­al trends and threats, the Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review Inde­pen­dent Pan­el told Con­gress yes­ter­day.

William Per­ry and Stephen Hadley, who co-chair the bipar­ti­san pan­el, told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee the 2010 QDR needs to go a step fur­ther in pro­vid­ing a force-plan­ning con­struct to shape the Defense Depart­ment for the next 10 to 20 years. 

They also rec­om­mend­ed that Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates estab­lish a new com­mis­sion on mil­i­tary per­son­nel to recon­sid­er long-stand­ing prac­tices that they called eco­nom­i­cal­ly unsustainable. 

Report­ing on the panel’s report, issued July 29, Per­ry — who served as Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s defense sec­re­tary — said the mil­i­tary like­ly will need to sus­tain recent end-strength increas­es in the Army and Marine Corps for the long term as it focus­es on build­ing force struc­ture with­in the Air Force and Navy. 

The Air Force has “about the right force struc­ture,” he said, but needs to aug­ment its long-range strike capa­bil­i­ty. Per­ry also not­ed the need to boost the Navy, par­tic­u­lar­ly to sus­tain free tran­sit in the West­ern Pacific. 

In addi­tion, the Defense Depart­ment must be pre­pared to assist civ­il depart­ments in the event of a cyber attack, Per­ry said, rec­om­mend­ing that a por­tion of the Nation­al Guard should be ded­i­cat­ed to the home­land secu­ri­ty mission. 

These require­ments come on top of a major recap­i­tal­iza­tion required of U.S. forces, part of it due to wear and tear on equip­ment used in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. 

“What we have described as a need will be expen­sive,” Per­ry con­ced­ed. “But defer­ring recap­i­tal­iza­tion could entail even greater expens­es in the long run.” 

Per­ry cit­ed the suc­cess of the all-vol­un­teer force, but said dra­mat­ic cost increas­es in recent years to sup­port it can’t be sus­tained long-term. 

“We believe we must seri­ous­ly address those costs, and that fail­ure to do so would lead either to a reduc­tion in force or a reduc­tion in ben­e­fits or some way of com­pro­mised all-vol­un­teer force — none of which is desir­able,” he said. 

Per­ry rec­om­mend­ed that Gates estab­lish a com­mis­sion to eval­u­ate the Tri­care mil­i­tary health plan and oth­er ben­e­fits, expect­ed ser­vice lengths, the “up-or-out” pol­i­cy and oth­er long-stand­ing per­son­nel prac­tices. Among issues the com­mis­sion should con­sid­er, he said, is empha­siz­ing cash upfront instead of future benefits. 

While acknowl­edg­ing that these “are all big issues and all very polit­i­cal­ly sen­si­tive,” Per­ry said it’s crit­i­cal that they be addressed to face the future. 

Hadley, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sor, report­ed the five gravest poten­tial threats like­ly to arise over the next gen­er­a­tion: rad­i­cal Islam­ic extrem­ism and the threat of ter­ror­ism; the rise of new glob­al pow­ers in Asia; the con­tin­ued strug­gle for pow­er in the Per­sian Gulf and greater Mid­dle East; accel­er­at­ing glob­al com­pe­ti­tion for resources; and failed and fail­ing states. 

“The cur­rent trends are like­ly to place an increased demand on Amer­i­can hard pow­er to pre­serve region­al bal­ances,” he said. 

But Hadley also cit­ed a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op and adapt insti­tu­tions to con­front these chal­lenges. “We have var­i­ous tools of smart pow­er, diplo­ma­cy, engage­ment, trade, com­mu­ni­ca­tions about Amer­i­cans’ ideals and inten­tions,” he told the com­mit­tee. “And these will increas­ing­ly be nec­es­sary to pro­tect America’s interests.” 

Hadley echoed Gates’ call for stronger “soft-pow­er” capa­bil­i­ties, and rec­om­mend­ed struc­tur­al and cul­tur­al changes with­in the gov­ern­ment so non-mil­i­tary branch­es can assume a larg­er role in pro­tect­ing nation­al interests. 

To pro­mote this effort, Hadley called for Con­gress to con­sid­er estab­lish­ing a sin­gle nation­al secu­ri­ty appro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee and coor­di­nat­ed autho­riza­tion process between rel­e­vant committees. 

He also rec­om­mend­ed that the pres­i­dent and Con­gress estab­lish a nation­al com­mis­sion to build the civ­il force for the future and pro­vide a blue­print so civil­ian depart­ments and agen­cies are bet­ter pos­tured to deploy over­seas and work coop­er­a­tive­ly with mil­i­tary forces in inse­cure secu­ri­ty environments. 

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

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