"Reforging the Sword" CDI Report Outlines U.S. Military Forces for the 21st Century

WASHINGTON, D.C. – America’s military needs to be substantially restructured to counter the threats to global security that are likeliest to emerge through the year 2025, according to a report released today by the non-partisan Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based research institution.

The 71-page analytical study, Reforging the Sword: U.S. Forces for a 21st Century Security Strategy, works from the premise that strategic considerations rather than budgetary concerns should drive the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which is due for completion by the end of this month. The CDI study concludes that the U.S. military can, and must, be restructured to handle smaller-scale, lower-intensity operations and asymmetric threats.

The study places a premium on the need for addressing personnel issues and doctrine, rather than hardware. It argues for boosting the cohesion and initiative-taking of U.S. troops, and asserts that the agility of America’s forces should be enhanced by creating lighter, smaller and more mobile units.

The analysis further indicates that the burdens the U.S. military faces in intervening or trying to prevent complex conflicts in far corners of the globe could be better shouldered by re-balancing U.S. national security policy toward its political and economic components, as well as by expanding cooperation with allies and partners. If this is done, the United States over time could reduce its active force by three Army divisions, three aircraft carrier battle groups, and approximately four fighter wings.

While cutting spending was not a goal of the study, Reforging the Sword estimates that billions of dollars could be saved by such an integrated strategy. Apart from the costs entailed by transformation itself, the report estimates that the annual U.S. defense budget could be reduced by 15 to 20 percent without compromising America’s security.