Section III


Since the founding of the Republic, the United States has embraced several fundamental and enduring goals as a nation: to maintain the sovereignty, political freedom, and independence of the United States, with its values, institutions, and territory intact; to protect the lives and personal safety of Americans, both at home and abroad; and to provide for the well-being and prosperity of the nation and its people.

Achieving these basic goals in an increasingly interdependent world requires fostering an international environment in which critical regions are stable, at peace, and free from domination by hostile powers; the global economy and free trade are growing; democratic norms and respect for human rights are widely accepted; the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) and other potentially destabilizing technologies is minimized; and the international community is willing and able to prevent and, if necessary, respond to calamitous events. The United States seeks to play a leadership role in the international community, working closely and cooperatively with nations that share our values and goals, and influencing those that can affect U.S. national well-being.


How can we best achieve these national security goals and preferred international conditions in today's changing, uncertain, and still dangerous world?

In recent years people have expressed views on this question spanning the political and ideological spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, it can be argued that because we no longer face the challenge of a global peer competitor like the Soviet Union, we would be best served as a nation by focusing our energies at home and only committing military forces when our nation's survival is at stake. This point of view argues that our obligations beyond protecting our own survival and that of key allies are few. This is, in essence, a 19th century view of the world, which ignores the impact of global events on our nation, the growing interdependence of the world economy, and the acceleration of the information technology revolution.

At the other end of the spectrum is the argument that as the world's only remaining superpower, the United States has significant obligations that go well beyond any traditional view of national interest, such as generally protecting peace and stability around the globe, relieving human suffering wherever it exists, and promoting a better way of life, not only for our own citizens but for others as well.

In between these competing visions of isolationism and world policeman lies a security strategy that is consistent with our global interests - a national security strategy of engagement. A strategy of engagement presumes the United States will continue to exercise strong leadership in the international community, using all dimensions of its influence to shape the international security environment. This is particularly important to ensuring peace and stability in regions where the United States has vital or important interests and to broadening the community of free-market democracies. Strengthening and adapting alliances and coalitions that serve to protect shared interests and values are the most effective ways to accomplish these ends.

While the United States will retain the capability to act unilaterally, a strategy that emphasizes coalition operations is essential to protecting and promoting our national interests in a world in which we as a nation must often act in concert with others to create our preferred international conditions and secure our basic national goals. Indeed, the nature of the challenges we face demands cooperative, multinational approaches that distribute the burden of responsibility among like-minded states. For example, to effectively curb the proliferation of NBC weapons, the United States must garner the cooperation of other nations that have access to NBC technology and materials. Therefore, it is imperative that the United States strives to build close, cooperative relations with the world's most influential countries.

Maintaining a strong military and the willingness to use it in defense of national and common interests remain essential to a strategy of engagement as we approach the 21st century. Today, the United States has unparalleled military capabilities. We are the only nation in the world able to conduct large-scale, effective joint military operations far beyond its borders. This places us in a unique position. We are the only power in the world that can organize effective military responses to large-scale regional threats, the cornerstone of many mutually beneficial alliances and security partnerships, and the foundation of stability in key regions of the world. To sustain this position of leadership, the United States must maintain ready and versatile forces capable of conducting a wide range of military activities and operations - from deterring and defeating large-scale aggression, to participating in smaller-scale contingencies, to dealing with asymmetric threats like terrorism.

Nevertheless, both U.S. national interests and limited resources argue for the selective use of U.S. forces. The primary purpose of U.S. forces is to deter and defeat the threat of organized violence against the United States and its interests. Decisions about whether and when to use military forces should be guided, first and foremost, by the U.S. national interests at stake - be they vital, important, or humanitarian in nature - and by whether the costs and risks of a particular military involvement are commensurate with those interests. When the interests at stake are vital - that is, they are of broad, overriding importance to the survival, security, and vitality of the United States - we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power. U.S. vital national interests include, but are not limited to:

In other cases, the interests at stake may be important but not vital - that is, they do not affect our national survival but do significantly affect our national well-being and the character of the world in which we live. In these cases, military forces should be used only if they advance U.S. interests, are likely to accomplish their objectives, and other means are inadequate to accomplish our goals. Such uses of force should be both selective and limited, reflecting the relative saliency of the U.S. interests involved.

When the interests at stake are primarily humanitarian in nature, the U.S. military is generally not the best means of addressing a crisis. In some situations, however, use of our military's unique capabilities may be both necessary and appropriate: when a humanitarian catastrophe dwarfs the ability of civilian relief agencies to respond; or when the need for immediate relief is urgent and only the U.S. military has the ability to jump-start the longer-term response to the disaster. In such cases, if the United States decides to commit military forces to assist in the situation, the military mission should be clearly defined, the risk to American troops should be minimal, and substantial U.S. military involvement should be confined to the initial period of providing relief until broader international assistance efforts get underway.

In all cases where the commitment of U.S. forces is considered, determining whether the associated costs and risks are commensurate with the U.S. interests at stake should be the central calculus of U.S. decisions. Such decisions should also depend on our ability to identify a clear mission, the desired end state of the situation, and the exit strategy for forces committed.


In order to support this national security strategy, the U.S. military and the Department of Defense must be able to help shape the international security environment in ways favorable to U.S. interests, respond to the full spectrum of crises when directed, and prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. These three elements - shaping, responding, and preparing - define the essence of U.S. defense strategy between now and 2015.


In addition to other instruments of national power, such as diplomacy and economic trade and investment, the Department of Defense has an essential role to play in shaping the international security environment in ways that promote and protect U.S. national interests. Our defense efforts help to promote regional stability, prevent or reduce conflicts and threats, and deter aggression and coercion on a day-to-day basis in many key regions of the world. To do so, the Department employs a wide variety of means including: forces permanently stationed abroad; forces rotationally deployed overseas; forces deployed temporarily for exercises, combined training, or military-to-military interactions; and programs such as defense cooperation, security assistance, International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, and international arms cooperation.

DoD's role in shaping the international environment is closely integrated with our diplomatic efforts. On a daily basis, our diplomatic and military representatives work together towards U.S. objectives in all regions of the world. In times of crisis, diplomacy is a critical force multiplier when the United States seeks and works with coalition partners and requires access to foreign bases and facilities. Conversely, diplomacy is frequently enhanced when it is supported by the potential for a military response.

Promoting Regional Stability

Our armed forces, operating in conjunction with other U.S. agencies, promote regional stability in numerous ways that support our national security strategy. In regions where the United States has vital and important interests, the U.S. military helps bolster the security of key allies and friends and works to adapt and strengthen core alliances and coalitions to meet the challenges of an evolving security environment. This engagement forms bilateral and multilateral relationships that increase military transparency and confidence. In addition, the U.S. military often serves as a preferred means of engagement with countries that are neither staunch friends nor confirmed foes. These contacts build constructive security relationships and help to promote the development of democratic institutions today, in an effort to keep these countries from becoming adversaries tomorrow. Through both example and enforcement, U.S. forces encourage adherence to the international norms and regimes that help provide the foundation for peace and stability around the globe, such as nonproliferation, freedom of navigation, and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Promoting regional stability places a premium on building close working relationships with other U.S. government agencies, coalition partners, and nongovernmental organizations.

Preventing or Reducing Conflicts and Threats

Another essential element of our strategy is using U.S. military forces and other DoD resources to prevent or reduce threats and conflicts. This is a critical reason why we maintain forces overseas, conduct peacetime engagement activities, and fund various policy initiatives. Such preventive measures include focused efforts to:

Relatively small and timely investments in such targeted prevention measures can yield disproportionate benefits, often mitigating the need for a more substantial and costly U.S. response later.

Deterring Aggression and Coercion

The third aspect of the military's key role in shaping the international security environment is deterring aggression and coercion in key regions of the world on a day-to-day basis through the peacetime deployment of U.S. military forces abroad. Our ability to deter potential adversaries in peacetime rests on several factors:

Our nuclear posture also contributes substantially to our ability to deter aggression in peacetime. The primary role of U.S. nuclear forces in the current and projected security environment is to deter aggression against the United States, its forces abroad, and its allies and friends. Although the prominence of nuclear weapons in our defense posture has diminished since the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons remain important as a hedge against NBC proliferation and the uncertain futures of existing nuclear powers, and as a means of upholding our security commitments to allies.

In this context, the United States must retain strategic nuclear forces sufficient to deter any hostile foreign leadership with access to nuclear weapons from acting against our vital interests and to convince such a leadership that seeking a nuclear advantage would be futile. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to need a reliable and flexible nuclear deterrent - survivable against the most aggressive attack, under highly confident, constitutional command and control, and safeguarded against both accidental and unauthorized use. We believe these goals can be achieved at lower force levels. Consistent with this, the United States remains committed to negotiating further reductions in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals consistent with the agreed START III framework once Moscow ratifies the START II treaty.


Despite our best efforts to shape the international security environment, the U.S. military will, at times, be called upon to respond to crises in order to protect our interests, demonstrate our resolve, and reaffirm our role as global leader. Therefore, U.S. forces must also be able to execute the full spectrum of military operations, from deterring an adversary's aggression or coercion in crisis and conducting concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations, to fighting and winning major theater wars.

Although the United States will retain the capabilities to protect its interests unilaterally, we often find advantages to acting in concert with like-minded nations when responding to crises. Acting in coalition or alliance with other nations, rather than alone, generally strengthens the political legitimacy of a course of action and brings additional resources to bear, ensuring that the United States need not shoulder the political, military, and financial burdens alone. But building and maintaining effective coalitions also present significant challenges, from policy coordination at the strategic level to interoperability among diverse military forces at the tactical level. As the U.S. military incorporates new technologies and operational concepts at a pace faster than that of any other military, careful design and collaboration will be needed to ensure we meet new interoperability challenges. Because coalitions will continue to present both important political benefits and not insignificant military challenges, U.S. forces must plan, train, and prepare to respond to the full spectrum of crises in coalition with the forces of other nations.

Deterring Aggression and Coercion in Crisis

In many cases, the first stage of responding to a crisis is trying to deter an adversary so that the situation does not require a greater response. Deterrence in a crisis generally involves signaling the United States' commitment to a particular country or expressing our national interest by enhancing our warfighting capability in the theater. Our ability to respond rapidly and substantially as a crisis develops can have a significant deterrent effect. The readiness levels of deployable forces may be increased, forces deployed in the area may be moved closer to the crisis, and forces from the United States may be rapidly deployed to the area. The United States may also choose to make additional declaratory statements to communicate its intentions and the costs of aggression or coercion to an adversary. In some cases, we may choose to employ U.S. forces in a limited manner (e.g., to enforce sanctions or conduct limited strikes) to underline this message and deter further adventurism.

Conducting Smaller-Scale Contingency (SSC) Operations

In general, the United States, along with others in the international community, will seek to prevent and contain localized conflicts and crises before they require a military response. If, however, such efforts do not succeed, swift intervention by military forces may be the best way to contain, resolve, or mitigate the consequences of a conflict that could otherwise become far more costly and deadly. These operations encompass the full range of joint military operations beyond peacetime engagement activities but short of major theater warfare and include: show-of-force operations, interventions, limited strikes, noncombatant evacuation operations, no-fly zone enforcement, peace enforcement, maritime sanctions enforcement, counterterrorism operations, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

Based on recent experience and intelligence projections, the demand for smaller-scale contingency operations is expected to remain high over the next 15 to 20 years. U.S. participation in smaller-scale contingency operations must be selective, depending largely on the interests at stake and the risk of major aggression elsewhere. However, these operations will still likely pose the most frequent challenge for U.S. forces through 2015 and may require significant commitments of forces, both active and Reserve. Over time, substantial commitments to multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations will certainly stress U.S. forces in ways that must be carefully managed. Smaller-scale contingency operations will also put a premium on the ability of the U.S. military to work effectively with other U.S. government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private voluntary organizations, and a variety of coalition partners. They also require that the U.S. government, including both the military and other agencies, continuously and deliberately reassess both the challenges we encounter in such operations and the capabilities required to meet these challenges.

Therefore, the U.S. military must be prepared to conduct successfully multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations worldwide, and it must be able to do so in any environment, including one in which an adversary uses asymmetric means, such as NBC weapons. Importantly, U.S. forces must also be able to withdraw from smaller-scale contingency operations, reconstitute, and then deploy to a major theater war in accordance with required timelines. Although in some cases this may pose significant operational, diplomatic, and political challenges, the ability to transition between peacetime operations and warfighting remains a fundamental requirement for virtually every unit in the U.S. military. U.S. forces must be multi-mission capable and they must be organized, trained, equipped, and managed with multiple missions in mind.

Fighting and Winning Major Theater Wars (MTW)

At the high end of the crisis continuum is fighting and winning major theater wars. This mission is the most stressing requirement for the U.S. military. In order to protect American interests around the globe, U.S. forces must continue to be able to overmatch the military power of regional states with interests hostile to our own. Such states are often capable of fielding sizable military forces that can cause serious imbalances in military power within regions important to the United States. Allies and friendly states often find it difficult to match the power of a potentially aggressive neighbor. To deter aggression, prevent coercion of allied or friendly governments, and defeat aggression should it occur, we must prepare U.S. forces to confront this scale of threat far from home, in concert with our allies and friends, but unilaterally if necessary. Toward this end, we must have jointly trained and interoperable forces that can deploy quickly across great distances to supplement forward stationed and deployed U.S. forces, to assist a threatened nation, rapidly stop an enemy invasion, and defeat an aggressor.

As a global power with worldwide interests, it is imperative that the United States now and for the foreseeable future be able to deter and defeat large-scale, cross-border aggression in two distant theaters in overlapping time frames, preferably in concert with regional allies. Maintaining this core capability is central to credibly deterring opportunism - that is, to avoiding a situation in which an aggressor in one region might be tempted to take advantage when U.S. forces are heavily committed elsewhere - and to ensuring that the United States has sufficient military capabilities to deter or defeat aggression by an adversary that is larger, or under circumstances that are more difficult, than expected. This is particularly important in a highly dynamic and uncertain security environment. We can never know with certainty when or where the next major theater war will occur, who our next adversary will be, how an enemy will fight, who will join us in a coalition, or precisely what demands will be placed on U.S. forces. Indeed, history has repeatedly shown that we are often unable to predict such matters. A force sized and equipped for deterring and defeating aggression in more than one theater ensures the United States will maintain the flexibility to cope with the unpredictable and unexpected. Such a capability is the sine qua non of a superpower and is essential to the credibility of our overall national security strategy. It also supports our continued engagement in shaping the international environment to reduce the chances that such threats will develop in the first place.

If the United States were to forego its ability to defeat aggression in more than one theater at a time, our standing as a global power, as the security partner of choice, and as the leader of the international community would be called into question. Indeed, some allies would undoubtedly read a one-war capability as a signal that the United States, if heavily engaged elsewhere, would no longer be able to help defend their interests. Such a capability could also inhibit the United States from responding to a crisis promptly enough, or even at all, for fear of committing the bulk of our forces and making ourselves vulnerable in other regions. This fact is also unlikely to escape the attention of potential adversaries. A one-theater war capacity would risk undermining both deterrence and the credibility of U.S. security commitments in key regions of the world. This, in turn, could cause allies and friends to adopt more divergent defense policies and postures, thereby weakening the web of alliances and coalitions on which we rely to protect our interests abroad.

Obviously, in this dynamic, uncertain security environment, the United States must continually reassess the environment, our strategy, and the associated military requirements. If the security environment were to change dramatically and threats of large-scale aggression were to grow or diminish significantly, it would be both prudent and appropriate for the United States to review and reappraise its warfighting requirements.

At least three particularly challenging requirements associated with fighting and winning major theater wars merit special attention. The first is being able to rapidly defeat initial enemy advances short of their objectives in two theaters in close succession, one followed almost immediately by another. Maintaining this capability is absolutely critical to the United States' ability to seize the initiative in both theaters and to minimize the amount of territory we and our allies must regain from the enemies. Failure to halt an enemy invasion rapidly can make the subsequent campaign to evict enemy forces from captured territory much more difficult, lengthy, and costly. It could also weaken coalition support, undermine U.S. credibility, and increase the risk of conflict elsewhere.

Another especially challenging requirement is to be able to achieve our war aims against an adversary who uses or threatens to use NBC weapons, information warfare, terrorism, or other asymmetric means against us. Because of the prevalence of such capabilities in the hands of potential future adversaries and the likelihood that such adversaries would resort to such means in the face of overwhelming U.S. conventional dominance, U.S. forces must plan and prepare to fight and win major theater wars under such conditions.

In particular, the threat or use of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) is a likely condition of future warfare, including in the early stages of war to disrupt U.S. operations and logistics. These weapons may be delivered by ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, special operations forces, or other means. To meet this challenge, as well as the possibility that CBW might also be used in some smaller-scale contingencies, U.S. forces must be properly trained and equipped to operate effectively and decisively in the face of CBW attacks. This requires that the U.S. military continue to improve its capabilities to locate and destroy such CBW, preferably before they can be used, and defend against and manage the consequences of CBW if they are used. But capability enhancements alone are not enough. Equally important will be adapting U.S. doctrine, operational concepts, training, and exercises to take full account of the threat posed by CBW as well as other likely asymmetric threats. Moreover, given that the United States will most likely conduct future operations in coalition with others, we must also encourage our friends and allies to train and equip their forces for effective operations in CBW environments.

Finally, as noted above, U.S. forces must also be able to transition to fighting major theater wars from a posture of global engagement - that is, from substantial levels of peacetime engagement overseas as well as multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations. In the event of one major theater war, the United States would need to be extremely selective in making any additional commitments to either engagement activities or smaller-scale contingency operations. We would likely also choose to begin disengaging from those activities and operations not deemed to involve vital U.S. interests in order to better posture our forces to deter the possible outbreak of a second war. In the event of two such conflicts, U.S. forces would be withdrawn from peacetime engagement activities and smaller-scale contingency operations as quickly as possible to be readied for war.

Because both the nature of the threats we face and the way in which we will choose to fight future conflicts are changing, the forces and capabilities required to uphold this two-theater element of the strategy will differ from the "Major Regional Conflict building blocks" developed in the 1993 Bottom-Up Review. Specifically, the accelerating incorporation of new technologies and operational concepts into the force calls for a reexamination of the forces and capabilities required for fighting and winning major theater wars. As U.S. and enemy forces change in effectiveness, these force requirements will change.


The fundamental challenge confronting the Department of Defense is simple, but daunting. Our armed forces must meet the demands of a dangerous world by shaping and responding throughout the period from 1997 to 2015. To do so, we must meet our requirements to shape and respond in the near term, while at the same time we must transform U.S. combat capabilities and support structures to be able to shape and respond effectively in the face of future challenges.

To meet this challenge, we must prepare now to meet the security challenges of an unpredictable future. As we move into the next century, it is imperative that the United States maintain its military superiority in the face of evolving, as well as discontinuous, threats and challenges. Without such superiority, our ability to exert global leadership and to create international conditions conducive to the achievement of our national goals would be in doubt.

To maintain this superiority, we must achieve a new level of proficiency in our ability to conduct joint and combined operations. This proficiency can only be achieved through a unified effort by all elements of the Department toward the common goal of full spectrum dominance envisioned in Joint Vision 2010, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's blueprint for our future military operations. Implementing Joint Vision 2010 requires developing the doctrine, education, training, organization, and materiel to support truly integrated joint operations. Achieving this new level of proficiency also requires improving our methods for integrating our forces and capabilities with those of our allies and coalition partners.

Our commitment to preparing now for an uncertain future has four main parts:

  1. Pursue a focused modernization effort in order to replace aging systems and incorporate cutting-edge technologies into the force to ensure continued U.S. military superiority over time;

  2. Continue to exploit the "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) in order to improve the U.S. military's ability to perform near-term missions and meet future challenges;

  3. Exploit the "Revolution in Business Affairs" (RBA) to radically reengineer DoD infrastructure and support activities;

  4. Insure or hedge against unlikely, but significant, future threats in order to manage risk in a resource-constrained environment and better position the Department to respond in a timely and effective manner to new threats as they emerge.

Pursue a Focused Modernization Effort

Fielding modern and capable forces in the future requires aggressive action today. Just as U.S. forces won the Gulf War with weapons that we developed many years before, tomorrow's forces will fight with weapons that are developed today and fielded over the next several years. Today, the Department is witnessing a gradual aging of the overall force. Many weapons systems and platforms that were purchased in the 1970s and 1980s will reach the end of their useful lives over the next decade or so. It is essential that the Department increase procurement spending now so that we can ensure tomorrow's forces are every bit as modern and capable as today's. Sustained, adequate spending on the modernization of the U.S. forces will be essential to ensuring that tomorrow's forces continue to dominate across the full spectrum of military operations.

Exploit the "Revolution in Military Affairs"

Our modernization effort is directly linked to the broader challenge of transforming our forces to retain our military superiority in the face of changes in the security environment and in the art of warfare. Just as earlier technological revolutions have affected the nature of conflict, so too will the technological change that is so evident today. This transformation involves much more than the acquisition of new military systems. It means harnessing new technologies to give U.S. forces greater military capabilities through advanced concepts, doctrine, and organizations so that they can dominate any future battlefield.

Because U.S. forces are committed every day to meeting the serious security demands of the present, transforming them must necessarily be a process of responsible evolution toward revolutionary capabilities. For several years, the U.S. military and DoD have been engaged in a variety of efforts to exploit the RMA. Joint Vision 2010 has been key among these, stating that our joint forces can realize the potential of the RMA if we create and exploit information superiority to achieve full spectrum dominance through the synergy of four new operational concepts: dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection. Achieving this full spectrum dominance means continuing to build an integrated, complex set of systems, especially a common command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) architecture to achieve dominant battlespace awareness. Important complementary efforts include:

In the next several years, DoD will seek to further strengthen both the culture and the capability to develop and exploit new concepts and technologies in order to make our forces more responsive to an uncertain world.

Exploit the "Revolution in Business Affairs"

A Revolution in Business Affairs also has begun. Efforts to reengineer the Department's infrastructure and business practices must parallel the work being done to exploit the Revolution in Military Affairs if we are to afford both adequate investment in preparations for the future, especially a more robust modernization program, and capabilities sufficient to support an ambitious shaping and responding strategy throughout the period covered by the Review. The RBA includes: reducing overhead and streamlining infrastructure; taking maximum advantage of acquisition reform; outsourcing and privatizing a wide range of support activities when the necessary competitive conditions exist; leveraging commercial technology, dual-use technology, and open systems; reducing unneeded standards and specifications; utilizing integrated process and product development; and increasing cooperative development programs with allies. Measures such as these can shorten cycle times, particularly for the procurement of mature systems; enhance program stability; increase efficiencies; and assure management focus on core competencies, while freeing resources for investment in high-priority areas.

These measures will require changes in political and public thinking about the infrastructure that supports our flexible force. That thinking must be flexible as well, open to new solutions, and focused on the bottom-line support for U.S. forces. The QDR itself reviewed a large number of options and proposed a number of steps in this area, but much more fundamental work must be done to radically reengineer our institutions. To build the forces envisioned in Joint Vision 2010, it should be assumed that additional programs will need to be developed in the years beyond the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). To afford those programs, we will need both the vision and the will to shrink and make dramatically more efficient our supporting infrastructure.

Insurance Policies

The fourth element of preparing is taking prudent steps today to position ourselves to respond more effectively to unlikely, but significant, future threats, such as the early emergence of a regional great power or a "wild card" scenario. Such steps provide a hedge against the possibility that unanticipated threats will emerge. The Department should focus these efforts on threats that, although unlikely, would have highly negative consequences that would be very expensive to counter. Although such insurance is certainly not free, in an uncertain, resource-constrained environment, it is a relatively inexpensive way to manage the risk of being unprepared to meet a new threat, developing the wrong capabilities, or producing a capability too early and having it become obsolete by the time it is needed. Such an approach can also provide an opportunity to delay or forego costly investments in future capabilities we may not need.

Among the necessary hedging steps are maintaining a broad research and development (R&D) effort; use of Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations; contact with industries specializing in new technologies; and cooperation with allies who may develop new approaches to countering problems. An additional approach is to develop new capabilities through carefully tailored R&D and acquisition programs. For example, in missile defense, the United States has focused on R&D efforts that position us to deploy a credible national missile defense (NMD) against very limited attacks within three years of a deployment decision. Applying such an approach more broadly against new threats will require ensuring that we have the necessary intelligence capabilities for long-term strategic indications and warning, designing a process for validating such insurance requirements across the Department, and developing an insurance program profile and process that can be integrated into overall acquisition processes. Finally, R&D programs can be designed to adopt and adapt commercial technologies to military needs.

Our activities in all of these areas are only the initial steps in a continuing process. Preparing now for an uncertain future has no real end point. It must become a central component of the DoD culture and a continuing focus of our efforts.


As previously noted, perhaps the greatest challenge for U.S. forces in this planning period is to maintain the near-term capabilities required to carry out the shape and respond elements of the strategy while simultaneously undergoing the transformation required to prepare now for the future. This means maintaining the ability to conduct the full spectrum of military operations required to protect and promote U.S. interests in the near term even as our military forces evolve to incorporate the new technologies, doctrine, operational concepts, training approaches, and organizational structures that will enable them to meet the challenges of 2015 and beyond.

Characteristics of a Full-Spectrum Force

In order to meet the near-term requirements of shaping and responding to the security environment, U.S. forces should be sized and shaped not only to meet identified threats, but to have the capabilities necessary to succeed in a broad range of anticipated missions and operational environments. That is, the U.S. military must be a capabilities-based force that gives the national leadership a range of viable options for promoting and protecting U.S. interests in peacetime, crisis, and war. The number and variety of military challenges the United States will likely face in the next 15 to 20 years require a military of sufficient size and capability to defeat large enemy conventional forces, deter aggression and coercion, and conduct the full range of smaller-scale contingencies and shaping activities, all in the face of asymmetric challenges. U.S. forces, both active and Reserve, must be multi-mission capable, proficient in their core warfighting competencies, and able to transition from peacetime activities and operations to enhanced deterrence in crises, to war. This standard applies not only to the force as a whole, but also to individual conventional units.

Such full-spectrum forces require a balanced mix of overseas presence and power projection capabilities.

Maintaining a substantial overseas presence posture is vital to both the shaping and responding elements of the strategy. Specifically, overseas presence promotes regional stability by giving form and substance to our bilateral and multilateral security commitments and helps prevent the development of power vacuums and instability. It contributes to deterrence by demonstrating our determination to defend U.S., allied, and friendly interests in critical regions and better positions the United States to respond rapidly to crises. Our presence posture enhances the effectiveness of coalition operations across the spectrum of conflict by promoting joint and combined training, encouraging responsibility sharing on the part of friends and allies, and facilitating regional integration.

Equally essential to the shaping and responding elements of the strategy is being able to rapidly move and concentrate U.S. military power in distant corners of the globe. Effective and efficient global power projection is the key to the flexibility demanded of our forces and ultimately provides our national leaders with more options in responding to potential crises and conflicts. Being able to project power allows us to shape, deter, and respond even when we have no permanent presence or a limited infrastructure in a region. If necessary, it allows us to fight our way into a denied theater or to create and protect forward operating bases.

Critical Enablers

Critical to power projection and to our unique ability to both shape the international security environment and respond to the full spectrum of crises are a host of capabilities and assets that enable the worldwide application of U.S. military power. These critical enablers include:

Without these critical enablers, the United States military could not execute the defense strategy described above.


In sum, in order to protect and promote its national interests in the current and projected security environment, the United States must remain engaged as a global leader and harness the unmatched capabilities of its armed forces to do three things: shape the international security environment in favorable ways, respond to the full spectrum of crises when it is in our interests to do so, and prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future by transforming U.S. combat capabilities and support structures to be able to shape and respond effectively well into the 21st century.

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