Section IV


In an effort to develop a defense program that best supports the strategy, we considered several alternative defense postures, each of which reflects a somewhat different "path" toward meeting the challenges of the projected security environment. In defining these paths, we looked closely at the assessment of the future security environment to consider more carefully the pace and sequence of changes it forecasts over the period between now and 2015. Over the next several years, we will face a series of challenges: a range of smaller-scale contingency operations; the threat of large-scale, cross-border aggression; the continued proliferation of advanced technologies; and a variety of transnational dangers. We also will confront increasingly sophisticated asymmetric challenges involving the use of chemical, biological, and possibly nuclear weapons; attacks against the information systems of our forces and national infrastructure; terrorism, as well as any number of the "wild card" scenarios. As we move into the next decade, we also face the likely prospect of different and possibly more challenging regional threats, a still more demanding range of asymmetric challenges, and the very real potential for threats to the U.S. homeland. Finally, beyond the 2010-2015 period, there is the possibility that a regional great power or a global peer competitor may emerge.


For purposes of fiscal planning, the QDR projected stable annual defense budgets of roughly $250 billion in constant FY 1997 dollars. Absent a marked deterioration in world events, the nation is unlikely to support significantly more resources for national defense. Indeed, we may yet face pressures to lower DoD's share of federal expenditures. Under these circumstances, it would be unrealistic to build a defense program on an assumption that current resource challenges could be solved by increases in the DoD budget.

Operating within the constraints of a budget of roughly $250 billion per year, the Department has been able to sustain the force structure called for in the Bottom-Up Review while maintaining high readiness and supporting quality of life programs for our most important resource, our highly dedicated and competent people. Funding for modernization has been insufficient, however, with procurement budgets stalled near the $40 billion level. That "procurement holiday" was acceptable in the early years following the end of the Cold War because the drawdown of our forces allowed us to retire older equipment, leaving large stocks of modern equipment purchased during the 1980s.

The Department had forecast a rebound in planned procurement funding in the last few budgets to finance modernization programs that will be needed to sustain the forces and preserve U.S. technological superiority in the future. However, that planned rebound has been repeatedly postponed in recent budgets as increases previously projected for the procurement accounts have been eroded by unexpected demands for additional funding in operating activities. Those unexpected demands have been caused by unprogrammed expenses in a variety of areas, including failure to budget adequately for future depot and real property maintenance activities, partially unrealized savings from various cost-reduction initiatives, and contingency operations. In the aggregate, these expenses have tended to offset expected reductions in operations and support accounts, which previous plans had assumed would be the source of growth in procurement funding. In an environment where the budget is not growing and the highest priority has been accorded to maintaining the forces and their readiness, the primary mechanism for adjusting to these unplanned expenses has been a yearly postponement in some planned modernization goals.

The QDR included an assessment of these recent trends and the prospects for procurement growth implied in the FY 1998 President's budget and associated six-year Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) submitted to Congress earlier this year. That plan projects ambitious growth in procurement funding from the $42.6 billion in the FY 1998 budget, starting with a sharp rise in FY 1999 and reaching $60 billion by FY 2001. Based on an assessment of recent patterns and the assumptions embedded in the current six-year plan, the QDR concluded that there was a potential for annual migration to unplanned expenses of as much as $10-$12 billion per year in the later years of the plan. Migration in that range would undermine much of the planned increase in procurement. Instead of growing to $60 billion, procurement funding could be expected to stall in the range of $45-$50 billion. Some growth from the FY 1998 level could be expected from ongoing efforts to reduce the costs of defense infrastructure and from the natural transition of several major programs from development to production. Absent any further changes to the defense program, however, growth above $50 billion would be highly unlikely. It was in this fiscal context that alternative paths to support the strategy were considered.


Based on these views of the international security and fiscal environments, the QDR developed and evaluated several postures along a spectrum of the feasible approaches to meeting the strategy. All of these postures support our overall strategy. One alternative places greatest emphasis on shaping and responding in the near and midterm, while accepting greater risk in preparing now for an uncertain future. A second path emphasizes preparing now for the future, while accepting greater risk in shaping and responding in the near and midterm. And a third alternative path would attempt to balance risk over time by sustaining sufficiently large and capable forces to shape and respond in the near and midterm, while transforming the force to meet future challenges.

Path 1: Focus on Near-Term Demands

The dominant challenge on which this path is focused is meeting current dangers from regional aggressors, proliferation, and transnational threats. This path sees today's threats as sufficiently demanding to require our unwavering attention and tomorrow's threats as something for which we will have ample time to respond. The object of this path is securing international stability in the near term through global presence and deterrence of regional aggression, while largely deferring preparations for the possibility of more demanding security challenges in the future. It requires U.S. forces to maintain a robust overseas presence posture, remain capable of responding to a demanding set of smaller-scale contingency operations, and be ready to deter and, if necessary, defeat regional aggression in two distant theaters nearly simultaneously.

This path would meet the requirements of the strategy by sustaining current overseas deployments and stationing. It maintains a force large and ready enough to prevail in major theater wars using current operational plans and would meet the demand for forces to perform smaller-scale operations without overtaxing our military personnel. However, this path risks compromising the capability of U.S. forces to dominate in future conflicts by largely deferring our modernization plans.

The broad direction of this path would preserve current plans for 1.4 million active military personnel, 900,000 Reserve component personnel, and 700,000 civilians by FY 2003. It also would sustain the existing force structure, including 20 Air Force fighter wings (13 active and seven Reserve), 10 active Army divisions, 42 Reserve component brigades, 12 aircraft carriers, 131 surface combatants, and three Marine Expeditionary Forces.

Investment would increase beyond current levels only to the extent that new initiatives to streamline the infrastructure bear dividends. Compared with current program and acquisition plans, the overall level of investment (total of funding for procurement, research and development) would be likely to rise only a small amount, to roughly $85 billion per year, with about $50 billion expected to go toward new procurement. Absent any adjustment to the defense program, this path would continue the Department's current approach.

Path 2: Preparing for a More Distant Threat

The dominant challenge on which this path is focused is the possible emergence, after 2010-2015, of a regional great power or global peer competitor, as well as more stressing combinations of asymmetric threats. The object of this path is to ensure the long-term dominance of U.S. forces by preparing now for the emergence of more challenging threats in the future while accepting reductions in our capabilities to meet near-term demands.

This path would meet the requirements of the strategy by achieving battlefield dominance with smaller, more agile forces and dissuading future challengers from undertaking a military competition with the United States by revolutionary enhancement of U.S. military technology. However, this path accepts near-term risks by meeting potential regional conflicts with smaller forces. It also risks U.S. global leadership by reducing the presence of forces abroad.

The broad direction of this path would involve trading forces for investment. It would require reducing active duty military personnel by about 100,000 to 120,000, Reserve component personnel by 110,000 to 115,000, and civilian personnel by about 90,000 to 100,000. This would generally result in about a 20 percent reduction in overall structure, leaving 16 Air Force fighter wings, eight active Army divisions, 33 Reserve component brigades, 10 aircraft carriers, 108 surface combatant ships, and three Marine Expeditionary Force command elements with substantially reduced combat capability.

Achieving the technological dominance on which this path is focused would require a substantial increase in investment of up to $100 billion per year, with at least $65 billion dedicated to procurement.

Path 3: Balance Current Demands and an Uncertain Future

This path focuses on meeting both near- and longer-term challenges, reflecting the view that our position in the world does not afford us the opportunity to choose between the two. In the near term, this future involves continued smaller-scale operations and regional threats in the Arabian Gulf region and on the Korean peninsula. Over the longer term, it involves contending with the gradual emergence of potentially more capable regional aggressors and advanced asymmetric threats. The object of Path 3 is to sustain U.S. global leadership through this uncertain period by balancing capabilities to address near-term challenges with focused investments to counter longer-term threats.

This path would meet the requirements of the strategy by leveraging operational innovations and improvements in capability to strengthen the resilience of the force against changes in the threat. It also would more carefully manage somewhat smaller forces to sustain our overseas engagement. This approach would discourage prospective challengers from initiating a military competition with the United States through the combination of a robust presence of U.S. forces, the ability to respond to a full range of crises, and a steadily improving technical prowess.

The broad direction of this path would focus on balancing near-term and longer-term risk. It would require reducing active military personnel by 60,000, Reserve component personnel by 55,000, and civilian personnel by 80,000. It would result in modest changes to the current force structure, leaving 20 Air Force fighter wings (12 active, eight Reserve), 10 active Army divisions, a smaller Army reserve component, 12 aircraft carriers, 116 surface combatant ships, 50 attack submarines, and three Marine Expeditionary Forces. (The details of these reductions are described more fully in Section V.)

These force reductions would both reduce the requirement for new systems and make possible measured increases in investment to a level of $90 billion to $95 billion per year, with about $60 billion applied to procurement.


In order to assess the three alternative defense postures against the strategy, we tested these postures and a number of other force structures against a full spectrum of operational challenges under diverse conditions, including providing overseas presence, smaller-scale contingency operations, major theater wars, and conflict with a future regional great power.

Overseas Presence Analysis. To ensure we continue to provide the right levels and types of overseas presence to meet the objectives laid out in our strategy, we undertook a detailed examination of our overseas presence objectives and posture in all regions, including the mix of permanently stationed forces, rotational forces, temporary forces, and prepositioned equipment and stocks. This study, conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, built on the pre-QDR work done by the Joint Staff and involved all relevant participants, including the Services and the regional Commanders in Chief. This study examined both U.S. objectives and our current overseas presence posture and activities in each region in order to identify and explain any possible mismatches between the two. This analysis formed the basis for the development of options that informed our decisions on the appropriate levels of presence in key regions throughout the world.

The demands associated with maintaining overseas presence play a significant role in determining the size of our naval forces. To illuminate the implications of overseas presence demands, additional analysis was done examining the impact of possible naval force structure options, including aircraft carriers and amphibious ready groups (ARGs). Using the Navy's Force Presence Model, a range of aircraft carrier and ARG force structures were analyzed and compared to the forward presence currently provided in the United States European Command, United States Central Command, and United States Pacific Command areas of responsibility. Naval surface combatants force structure was analyzed in a similar fashion. The analysis concluded that a force of 11 active aircraft carriers plus one operational Reserve/training carrier was necessary to satisfy current policy for forward deployed carriers and accommodate real world scheduling constraints. A total of 12 ARGs are needed to satisfy current warfighting requirements, a force that also meets overseas presence requirements. A total surface combatant force of 110 to 116 ships can satisfy both current warfighting and presence requirements.

As with the Navy and Marine Corps, the QDR assessed the forces the Air Force and Army need for overseas presence as well as warfighting. For example, while the QDR reaffirmed the need for 20 Air Force tactical fighter wing equivalents and 10 active Army divisions to execute two nearly simultaneous major theater wars with moderate risk, it also considered the effects of notional force reductions on overseas deployments and personnel tempo. In particular, reductions in Air Force and Army active forces could increase operating tempo in each service - already high for some force elements - if current forward deployments were unchanged. Alternatively, force reductions could lead to reductions in overseas presence and forward deployments in order to avoid additional increases in operating tempo.

Smaller-Scale Contingency Operations Analysis. In keeping with the requirement that U.S. forces be able to conduct multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations, several elements of DoD-sponsored studies, games, and workshops during the QDR were designed to gain insights into the challenges these operations would pose for U.S. forces. Primary studies ranged from a series of smaller-scale contingency workshops focused on identifying and prioritizing the challenges associated with individual types of smaller-scale contingency operations to the Dynamic Commitment wargame series which assessed the implications of projected commitments of U.S. forces to simultaneous and sequential smaller-scale contingencies over the next 10 years. Together, these studies clarified the force requirements for the full range of smaller-scale contingency operations and gave us insights into the combined effects of these operations on our forces.

The Department has long known that many segments of the force have been, and probably will be, used at a very high operating tempo (OPTEMPO) in peacetime. However, the analysis showed that this phenomenon was not limited to traditional "low density/high demand" (LD/HD) units that have been identified over the past few years. Many "regular" forces were also in very high demand, including headquarters elements which were generally tasked more heavily than their subordinate forces. While it was no surprise that large, long operations significantly affected OPTEMPO, the studies found that small, long-term operations also had a significant impact. Some studies also identified operational shortfalls, and these areas will be examined in greater detail by OSD, the Joint Staff, and the Services. Additional analysis focused on identifying issues critical to ensuring that U.S. forces can transition from smaller-scale deployments and operations to major theater wars. This work not only highlighted the stresses on LD/HD units, but also found that lift was often poorly positioned to respond to a major theater war when the force was globally deployed. This analysis also demonstrated that although coalition support can be a useful force supplement, it often comes with hidden and sometimes substantial costs. These costs may be incurred in the form of increased U.S. medical support; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR); lift; and logistics support. This extensive analysis of smaller-scale contingencies provided us with insights which helped shape the QDR force and also made clear that there is much work still to be done in assessing the impact and managing the demand of smaller-scale contingencies on our forces.

Major Theater War Analysis. Since the Bottom-Up Review, much of the warfighting analysis conducted within the Department has focused on the threat posed by regional aggressors on the scale of Iraq and North Korea. The analysis conducted during the QDR built on and expanded that detailed work. Specifically, the analysis examined the sufficiency of U.S. forces to fight and win, in concert with regional allies, two overlapping major theater wars on the Korean peninsula and in Southwest Asia in 2006 while varying four key conditions across the analysis: enemy use of chemical and biological weapons, warning time, U.S. force size, and the degree to which U.S. forces were engaged in peacetime operations at the outbreak of the first major theater war.

The results of this analysis demonstrated that a force of the size and structure close to the current force was necessary to meet the requirement set out in the strategy of being able to win two, nearly simultaneous, major theater wars in concert with regional allies. While slightly smaller forces were capable of prevailing without a significant increase in risk in the base case of the analysis, a larger force was judged necessary to conduct these operations with acceptable risk when either enemy chemical weapons were used or shorter warning times were played. Even with the current force, enemy use of chemical and biological weapons presents U.S. and coalition forces with considerable challenges. The results of the analysis also underlined the importance of several planned modernization programs, as well as increased investment in capabilities to prevent and defend against the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Regional Great Power Analysis. Although it is by no means certain that a regional great power or global peer will emerge before the 2010-2015 time frame, the Department believed it was important to analyze the potential requirements that would be posed by an aggressor with capabilities significantly greater than those anticipated for Iraq, Iran, or North Korea, so that future demands could inform near-term decisions, particularly in the area of modernization.

This analysis employed combat simulation models to examine the capabilities of U.S. forces in a major theater war against a postulated regional great power in 2014. The generic scenarios used a threat force that was roughly based on the projected capabilities of major nations not currently allied with the United States operating in a generic political environment and physical terrain. This analysis differed from our major theater war assessments in that it involved a significantly larger and more capable threat, relied on more capable allies, and employed a larger proportion of U.S. forces than the single major theater war scenarios involving North Korea or Iraq. The scenarios assumed that U.S. forces would be deployed to defend, in concert with allies, the territory of a fictitious threatened nation. The purpose of this analysis was to explore a range of outcomes by varying key conditions, projected modernization, warning times, aggressor and allied capabilities, and weapon systems effectiveness. The analysis enabled us to test our projected capabilities against a range of more challenging threats. In addition, the modernization excursions demonstrated that planned modernization programs have high payoffs in these more demanding scenarios.

Individual Service Assessments. In addition to the joint force structure assessments, individual assessments were conducted for the Services and the United States Special Operations Command that provided insights into issues not specifically or as thoroughly addressed in the other assessment areas. Each of these assessments highlighted the increases to an already high pace of operations that would occur if the existing forces, particularly its active elements, were to be reduced.

Air Force: Areas assessed included Reserve component contributions, tactical fighter posture, overall OPTEMPO, bombers, the air defense force, tankers, strategic airlift, and tactical airlift.

Army: Areas analyzed included active component personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO); substitution of Reserve component brigades for active component brigades; wartime missions and the strategic Reserve requirement for Army National Guard divisions; and potential host nation offsets for combat support/combat service support requirements.

Navy: Additional analysis focused on the operational contributions of aircraft carriers, surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ready groups (ARGs), P-3 (maritime patrol aircraft) squadrons, and overall personnel tempo.

Marine Corps: Assessments focused on warfighting impacts of force structure alternatives, OPTEMPO, and Reserve capabilities.

Special Operations Forces (SOF): Additional assessments reviewed current SOF structure and assessed the effects of structure alternatives on the ability of the SOF to carry out the missions called for in the defense strategy.

Our overall analysis determined that none of the individual requirements - overseas presence, smaller-scale contingency operations, major theater wars - is sufficient on its own for determining overall force size or composition. Size and mix must be evaluated by the Services, as well as jointly, in the context of meeting the requirements for all missions set forth in the strategy. The overall insight gained through these assessments suggests that a somewhat smaller force, with a more robust modernization program, is most capable of meeting the requirements of the strategy over time.


Our assessment of the alternative paths began with the strategy. We considered how the defense posture associated with each of the paths would allow us to carry out each element of the strategy. We focused on assessing the capability of our forces to shape and respond in the face of both current and future predicted and possible challenges. A force optimized to meet just one challenge or the other would not suffice, since we need to provide for the nation's security throughout the period 1997-2015 and beyond. Thus, we looked to identify balanced capabilities that will enable us to achieve our objectives both now and into the future.

To assess the defense postures associated with each path, we identified a number of specific criteria. These ranged from the ability to sustain permanently stationed forces abroad within acceptable personnel tempo levels, to the ability to achieve our campaign objectives in a major theater war, to the ability to maintain needed levels of investment in research and development as well as the procurement of new systems. A summary of the results of these assessments follows.

Shape. The defense strategy requires forces that are capable of providing substantial levels of peacetime engagement, drawing on the full range of shaping instruments including: forces permanently stationed abroad, forces rotationally deployed abroad, forces deployed temporarily for exercises, combined training, military-to-military interactions, and programs such as defense cooperation, security assistance, International Military Education and Training, and international arms cooperation. Our forces must be able to sustain such engagement within acceptable personnel tempo levels.

The defense posture described in Path 1 provides the most flexible set of near-term shaping options. This posture would enable us to sustain current overseas commitments, including roughly 100,000 military personnel both in Europe and in Asia, as well as rotational commitments of naval, air, and ground forces. It would provide sufficient flexibility to conduct a wide range of exercises and training missions with allies and friends. This posture could also absorb temporary increases in overseas deployments to enhance our shaping activities. Overall, this posture would meet the shaping requirements of the strategy.

The defense posture described in Path 2 would provide a much less flexible set of near-term shaping options and clearly would require the development of new, less manpower-intensive approaches to meeting our overseas presence commitments. It would require us to reduce permanently-stationed forces, affecting our commitment to keep roughly 100,000 military personnel both in Europe and in Asia. Rotational commitments of naval, air, and ground forces would decline markedly. This posture would also restrict our flexibility to exercise and train with allies and friends, or to temporarily increase overseas deployments. For many units, personnel and deployment tempo would increase significantly, potentially raising longer-term concerns about personnel retention.

The defense posture envisioned in Path 3 would provide a reasonably flexible set of near-term shaping options. This posture would allow us to sustain roughly 100,000 military personnel both in Europe and in Asia as well as current rotational deployments of naval, air, and ground forces. The needed program of exercises, training, and interaction with allies and friends could be sustained, albeit with increased stress on certain elements of the force.

Respond. The defense strategy requires that our forces be capable of responding across the full spectrum of crises - including deterring aggression and coercion in crises, conducting smaller-scale contingency operations, and fighting and winning major theater wars. They must be able to do so in the face of asymmetric challenges, including the threat or use of NBC weapons, information operations, or terrorism. This means our forces must be multi-mission capable, proficient in their core warfighting competencies, and able to transition from peacetime activities and operations to deterrence to war. Once engaged in responding to large-scale regional aggression, our forces must be able to defeat the enemy's initial attack in two theaters in close succession and then go on to achieve our overall campaign objectives.

The defense posture described in Path 1 provides the most robust near-term capabilities to respond to the full range of crises and contingencies. Our assessments indicate that this posture would allow us to deter aggressors in a crisis, conduct a full range of smaller-scale contingency operations, transition from smaller-scale contingency operations to large-scale conflict, and deter and, if necessary, defeat large-scale, cross-border aggression in two distant theaters in overlapping time frames. Over time, however, this capability could erode as the modernization program lagged.

The defense posture described in Path 2 provides fewer capabilities in the near term and accepts greater risk in responding to the full range of crises that might occur early in the period covered by the Review. This path would require us to be more selective in conducting smaller-scale contingency operations, particularly those operations that have the potential to last a long time. It places greater reliance on early and extensive use of Reserve component forces, anticipates significantly larger contributions from allies and friends, and relies on "swinging" both combat and support forces from one theater to another to defeat large-scale aggression in two regions. Although this path exploits new capabilities and operational concepts to achieve battlefield dominance with smaller overall forces over time, those capabilities would not be available in the near term.

The defense posture envisioned in Path 3 provides adequate near-term capabilities to respond to the full range of crises and contingencies - albeit at somewhat greater risk than in Path 1. With this posture, we would need to continue to be selective in conducting smaller-scale contingency operations, especially those that have the potential to last a long time, but we would remain capable of defeating large-scale aggression in more than one region. Moreover, like Path 2, but over a slightly longer period of time, this posture exploits new capabilities and operational concepts to achieve battlefield dominance with smaller overall forces, improving our capabilities to respond.

Prepare. Finally, the defense strategy requires us to prepare now to meet the security challenges of an uncertain future. This means we must pursue a focused modernization effort, continue to exploit the Revolution in Military Affairs, and take prudent actions to ensure against the emergence of unlikely but significant future threats.

While Path 1 clearly provides adequate forces and capabilities to meet near-term challenges, it invests insufficient resources in modernizing and transforming the force. The investment approach associated with this posture would allow major categories of equipment to continue to age, introduce new technologies on a slower and more limited basis, and provide little, if any, opportunity to pursue new modernization initiatives.

Path 2 places the greatest emphasis on preparing now for an uncertain future. It stresses the need to reduce forces and manpower today in order to create large-scale investment opportunities to modernize and transform the force for tomorrow. This path emphasizes the introduction of new systems and technologies - consistent with exploiting the Revolution in Military Affairs and achieving the goals set out in Joint Vision 2010, freeing additional funding for new program starts. This path would aggressively transform the force to meet new, potentially more demanding challenges at the cost of accepting greater risk in contending with current threats and challenges.

Path 3 focuses on preparing for an uncertain future, but not at the expense of meeting current challenges. Investment funding in Path 3 underwrites a measured modernization effort aimed at embracing the Revolution in Military Affairs and achieving the goals laid out in Joint Vision 2010, but not as quickly as Path 2. It introduces new systems and technologies at a reasonably aggressive rate, with modest room for new program starts. The goal for this path is to begin transforming the force to meet future challenges, while also shaping and responding to meet near-term challenges.


Based on these insights and assessments, the QDR concluded that the overall defense posture associated with Path 3 would best allow the Department to address the fundamental challenge presented by our strategy: to meet our requirements to shape and respond in the near term, while at the same time transforming U.S. combat capabilities and support structures to shape and respond in the face of future challenges. The posture described in Path 3 is not without risks, both near- and longer-term, but we believe we can mitigate these risks by more effectively managing the force and enhancing its capabilities.

The Department proceeded to determine the specific implications of Path 3 for force structure, operating posture, and modernization planning. They are described in detail in the following sections.

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