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Published: 10/2/2001

Review promotes flexible military, base closings

BY ANN McFEATTERS
BLADE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is repositioning military forces to better defend U.S. citizens and soil and guard against more surprises such as last month's terrorist attacks.

This is the chief point of the Quadrennial Defense Review, which is required by law every four years and was released yesterday as a “vision'' of the strategy for the U.S. armed forces for the next four years, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton.

Most of the work on the review was done before Sept. 11 and much of it was scrapped, as is shown by how brief the report is - only 71 pages, vastly shorter than previous editions.

The new watchword, the report said, is flexibility to adapt to change and surprise. As for what this flexibility will cost, the Defense Department said it doesn't yet know but warns that increased spending will be vital to “meet the nation's new defense demands.''

The report said the military has about $4 billion in “excess facility infrastructure'' it should get rid of - meaning another round of base closings.

The central strategy will be not to focus on what threats might be delivered by what enemies and where but on a “capabilities-based model'' that means the military must be prepared for how an adversary might fight in many different circumstances.

In other words, tomorrow's military has to be ready to defend against “deception, surprise, and asymmetric warfare.'' That means nuclear, biological, chemical, and enhanced high explosive attacks, components of which are increasingly available “off-the-shelf.''

Tomorrow's warfare, the report said, will be more likely to be joint operations with other countries, take place in remote “anti-access'' locations, and require high-tech surveillance, tracking, and “rapid engagement'' with enemy forces. That is the mission of special operations forces.

The report said this “will not be easy'' and calls for “an overhaul of existing approaches.''

For one thing, the report predicts more countries hostile to the United States will acquire ballistic missiles able to reach U.S. borders.

One new emphasis is on protecting the economic well-being of the global community and information lines of communication, which would include cyber safety.

The Pentagon officially has dropped its old plan for being able to wage war on two fronts at once.

Getting rid of the two-front strategy, predicated on simultaneous wars in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula, was expected. But there is an ongoing controversy about using military forces to patrol U.S. streets, although that doesn't apply to National Guard units.

The report says the Pentagon plans to decide whether to set up the post of a four-star general as a combatant commander responsible for coordinating the military's support for domestic security. But the report said it is clear the Pentagon “does not and cannot have the sole responsibility for homeland security.'' It looks to the new White House Office of Homeland Security to lead a strategy to defend against terrorism.

And, according to the report, the battle for control of space is likely to resume as more countries go into space. The United States may have to take steps to deny the use of space to its adversaries, the report said.

The report, prepared by the Pentagon's senior military and civilian officials, breaks with the past and does not recommend any cuts in the number of armed forces serving abroad - the number of regular uniformed military personnel has shrunk by one-fourth of its late 1980s size of 2 million. That does not count 1.3 million men and women in the reserves, who might be tapped for homeland defense duty.

Nor does it recommend the changes in the military that President Bush talked about during the 2000 campaign, in light of the new confrontation of terrorism.

The report said the United States will have to add more military resources it needs but doesn't have now in East Asia between the Bay of Bengal and the Sea of Japan, which it calls “a vast'' distance. And the United States will continue to be dependent on the oil of the Middle East, the report said.

The report said that “first-to-fight'' units are well-trained and ready because they have plundered from Reserve and institutional Army units. But it said non-deployed carrier airwings are in poor shape, there is a shortage of strategic transport aircraft, and that the superiority of U.S. training is eroding and its training facilities are outdated.

The report said basic pay and family separation are major reasons the armed forces are losing personnel. The review warns that many civilian employees are nearing retirement and little effort has been made so far to recruit replacements.



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