"Transformation" Expected to Get Short Shrift in Pentagon Defense Review

WASHINGTON - The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon have had little impact on the Defense Department's long-awaited Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which should be made public in the next few days.

While the attacks of Sept. 11th have prompted many to ask fundamental questions about the shape and composition of future U.S. forces, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reportedly has suggested that the QDR needed only to be "tweak[ed]" in response.

At the same time, the QDR is not expected to embrace a substantive agenda of military transformation. In other words, the report will not advocate restructuring and re-sizing America's armed forces, as was hinted at by both President George W. Bush and Rumsfeld during the early months of this administration. In fact, according to CDI reports from insiders, this year's QDR is not expected to offer any proposal that would reduce the number of major military units, such as Army divisions, Navy aircraft carrier battle groups, and Air Force fighter wings.

Two studies recently published by the Center for Defense Information reach conclusions counter to those anticipated from the upcoming QDR. Both documents - "Reforging the Sword" and "The Swift Elusive Sword" argue that "asymmetric" threats are emerging that will oblige the United States to make substantial changes in the way it conducts wars and in its military forces. In addition, the CDI documents examine the mounting importance of the political, diplomatic, and economic components of national security. By contrast with the expected findings of the QDR, the CDI reports suggest that America's armed forces should be substantially transformed; notably by reductions in traditional heavy armored units and other forces designed for intense "force-on-force" combat envisioned against a Cold War or future superpower enemy.

CDI released "Reforging the Sword" on Sept. 10. It sets as priorities strengthening select national security tools, including military collaboration with allies and friends; economic and political action; and the agility of our military forces.

"A Swift, Elusive Sword" explains the forms and strategies of asymmetric warfare (published before Sept. 11th, it referred specifically to the possibility of "kamikaze (martyr) aircraft" attacks on the United States), and examines what makes military forces effective in fighting it.

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

By: Winslow Wheeler, Director (2002-2014), Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO

At the time of publication Mr. Wheeler's was the director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center For Defense Information at POGO.

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