Section V


The QDR force structure follows the broad outlines of Path 3. We will sustain the forces and capabilities needed to meet the demands of our strategy in the near term while at the same time beginning to transform the force for the future. The issue is not whether we will reshape our forces, but how and when. Across the Services, changes in force structure and personnel end strength will be made to reflect improvements in operational concepts and organizational arrangements and to protect the full spectrum of combat capability to the maximum extent possible. In this manner, we seek to attain the long-term benefits of an increased modernization program while minimizing the near-term risk of reducing combat forces.

The principal force and manpower adjustments called for in the QDR are summarized below:


The Army will maintain four active corps, 10 active divisions - including six heavy and four light divisions - and two active armored cavalry regiments. Within that force posture, the Army is prepared to restructure parts of its force to reflect increased efficiencies in support activities and in anticipation of further organizational change, including the redesign and downsizing of its heavy divisions as it integrates the results of ongoing warfighting experiments. Given today's regional threats, elements of the Reserve component, the traditional Cold War strategic reserve can be reduced and transitioned into capabilities that have greater utility across the entire spectrum. This transition will increase depth in the Army's support structure to better support combat operations. These actions, together with the infrastructure efficiencies described in Section VIII, will result in the following personnel reductions:

  • Active 15,000
  • Reserve 45,000
  • Civilian 33,700


The Navy will maintain 12 aircraft carrier battle groups and 12 amphibious ready groups. The number of carrier wings will remain at 10 active wings and one reserve. Surface combatant ships will be reduced from today's level of 128 to 116 as newer and more capable systems are added to the fleet. Reflecting changes in requirements, the attack submarine force will be reduced from today's 73 to 50. Additionally, some combat logistics force ships will be transferred to the Military Sealift Command. These actions, together with infrastructure efficiencies, will result in the following personnel reductions:

  • Active 18,000
  • Reserve 4,100
  • Civilian 8,400


The total fighter inventory will be restructured and modestly reduced from current levels. This will be accomplished by retiring older Air National Guard aircraft and replacing them with approximately 60 fighters from the active component and by converting six continental air defense squadrons to general purpose, training, or other missions. These changes will result in a more modern and flexible force of just over 12 active fighter wing equivalents, eight reserve fighter wing equivalents, and four air defense squadrons (0.8 fighter wing equivalent). The Air Force will consider further reductions in total fighter wing equivalents as additional older generation assets are replaced by next generation aircraft. In addition to its fighter force, the Air Force will maintain a total fleet of 187 bombers, 142 of them assigned to operational units. The QDR made no changes to the tanker and airlift fleets.

The Air Force is consolidating its fighter, bomber, and theater airlift squadrons, increasing the number of aircraft in each squadron while decreasing the number of squadrons. It is also reducing intermediate headquarters to streamline its command structure. These actions, together with infrastructure efficiencies, will result in the following personnel reductions:

  • Active 26,900
  • Reserve 700
  • Civilian 18,300


The Marine Corps will maintain an active force of three Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs), each comprising a command element, a division, an aircraft wing, and a service support group. The active force will continue to be supported by one Reserve division/wing/service support group. The Marines will look toward some reconfiguration of forces in the future based on ongoing warfighting experiments. In addition, reductions in Reserve end strength will be undertaken based on a thorough review of Reserve force structure. These actions, together with infrastructure efficiencies, will result in the following personnel reductions:

  • Active 1,800
  • Reserve 4,200
  • Civilian 400

In summary, the major elements of force structure required to carry out the strategy are shown in the table below:

Programmed Force
FY 1997
FY 2003
Active Divisions



Reserve Personnel (000s)582 575530
Aircraft Carriers (Active/Reserve)



Air Wings (Active/Reserve)10/1 10/110/1
Amphibious Ready Groups12 1212
Attack Submarines73 5250
Surface Combatants128 131116
Active Fighter Wings



Reserve Fighter Wings7 78
Reserve Air Defense Squadrons10 64
Bombers (Total)202 187187
Marine Expeditionary Forces




Across the Department, QDR actions affecting both the military departments and the Defense agencies will reduce active military end strength by 60,000 personnel, Reserve end strength by about 55,000, and civilian personnel by 80,000. These reductions reflect modest changes in the Services' active combat forces. Our aim in taking these manpower reductions is to preserve the critical combat capabilities of our military forces - "the tooth" - while reducing infrastructure and support activities - "the tail" - wherever prudent and possible.

Our changes in defense manpower are shown in the table below:

Programmed Force
FY 1989
FY 1997
FY 2003
Active*2,130,0001,450,000 1,420,0001,360,000
Reserve1,170,000900,000 890,000835,000
Civilian*1,110,000800,000 720,000640,000

* Personnel numbers do not include Navy outsourcing initiatives planned prior to the QDR.

The QDR force provides a robust set of capabilities to shape the international environment and to continue our commitment to global engagement as called for in the President's National Security Strategy. We will maintain roughly 100,000 military personnel both in Europe and in the Asia/Pacific region. Maintaining this level of capability signals our commitment to peace and stability in both regions. In Europe, it also affirms our leadership in NATO as the alliance prepares to enlarge, reinforces our bilateral relations with key partners, and bolsters U.S. leverage in helping to shape allied defense capabilities. In the Asia/Pacific region, maintaining this level of capability underscores our commitment to remain engaged as a stabilizing influence in the region, alleviates the potential for destabilizing arms races in the region, underwrites deterrence on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere, and strengthens our voice in international forums dealing not only with Asian security matters but also political and economic matters.

We will continue current rotational deployments of naval, air, and ground forces - both active and Reserve component forces as required - to key regions such as Southwest Asia. We will also make planned improvements to our prepositioned stocks of equipment and materiel, both afloat and ashore.

This force structure gives us an effective capability to conduct a wide range of smaller-scale contingency operations, to redeploy from smaller-scale contingency operations to a major theater war, and in concert with regional allies, to deter and, if necessary, defeat, large-scale aggression in two theaters in overlapping time frames. In the event of two nearly simultaneous major theater wars, certain specialized, high-leverage units or unique assets that the United States fields in limited numbers - such as bombers, F-117s, standoff jamming aircraft, AWACS, JSTARS, and other C4ISR platforms, selected special operations forces, and some amphibious assault forces - would very likely "swing" or be redeployed from one theater of conflict to another.


Special Operations Forces (SOF) provide a range of unique capabilities that have important applications across the full spectrum of conflict. Our review of SOF capabilities focused on the major elements of SOF force structure - selected Special Forces groups and battalions, SEAL teams, and Special Operations Squadrons. We concluded that most of our SOF structure is sized appropriately to meet current and anticipated missions. However, based on our assessment, some Reserve component Special Forces battalions may exceed our peacetime and wartime needs. As a consequence, we will reduce our SOF structure by two Reserve component Special Forces battalions.


Our nuclear forces and posture were carefully examined during the review. We are committed to reducing our nuclear forces to START II levels once the treaty is ratified by the Russian Duma and then immediately negotiating further reductions consistent with the START III framework. Until that time, we will maintain the START I force as mandated by Congress, which includes 18 Trident SSBNS, 50 Peacekeeper missiles, 500 Minuteman III missiles, 71 B-52H bombers, and 21 B-2 bombers. Protecting the option to maintain this force through FY 1999 will require adding $64 million in FY 1999 beyond the spending on these forces contained in the FY 1998-2003 President's budget now before Congress.


Maintaining the integrated capabilities of the Total Force will remain essential for our strategy to succeed. In the post-Cold War era, the Reserve components have become an ever larger percentage of the Total Force and are essential participants in the full spectrum of operations, from the smallest of smaller-scale contingency operations to major theater war. Guard and Reserve forces provide trained units and individuals to fight in wartime and to support the wide range of DoD operations in peacetime. Reserve forces are part of all war plans. No major operation can be successful without them.

In peacetime, reservists provide unique skills in carrying out smaller-scale contingency operations and help relieve active units of some peacetime commitments to decrease active component personnel tempo and allow them to concentrate on higher priority tasks. For example, when President Clinton decided to use U.S. forces to help sustain peace in Bosnia, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units were mobilized and deployed to provide civil affairs, psychological operations, military police, and engineer support. Air Force Reserve component aircrews flew hundreds of missions and other reservists provided critical backfill. Navy Seabees and Marine Reserve civil affairs personnel were also activated.

During the course of the QDR, we made several important decisions regarding our Reserve component forces:

Army. The Bottom-Up Review (BUR) identified a need for Army combat forces beyond the 10 active divisions in case regional conflicts were more difficult than foreseen or unexpected circumstances arose that required additional ground forces. As a result, the BUR directed the creation of 15 National Guard brigades to be maintained at an enhanced level of readiness - known as the enhanced Separate Brigades (eSBs). This enhancement program is now almost complete. The QDR reaffirmed the continuing need for these brigades. They will provide an important hedge against adverse circumstances - such as the use of weapons of mass destruction - in major theater wars by augmenting or reinforcing active combat units.

A major issue in the QDR was determining the appropriate missions and size for our eight Army National Guard divisions. Existing plans do not call for these units to participate in major theater wars. They are assigned instead to missions which include easing Army personnel tempo in peacetime operations, providing rotation forces for extended contingencies, responding to domestic emergencies, and hedging against the emergence of a more threatening international environment.

During the Cold War, the National Guard divisions served as an important "strategic reserve," a role for the Guard reaffirmed in the BUR. At the time of the BUR, there was concern that the failure of democratization in the FSU could produce another major threat in a relatively short period of time. Since the BUR, relations with countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) have continued to evolve and trends in the international environment have been favorable. Forecasts see no major power threatening the United States before 2010, and potential threats after that are very uncertain. Therefore, the need for a large strategic reserve has declined, as noted by the Commission on Roles and Missions.

The QDR also reviewed other potential missions for National Guard divisions, taking as a starting point the QDR strategy and the projected security environment. The review considered the following missions for National Guard divisions:

Taking these missions into consideration, the QDR determined that the strategy could be supported by a somewhat smaller Army Reserve and National Guard. The analysis indicated that a total Army reserve component reduction of 45,000 personnel is possible. Some of the savings from these reductions will be applied to the combat support/combat service support conversion programs aimed at making the remaining units more effective in carrying out their missions. When these reductions are completed, the Army Reserve components will have been reduced 32 percent from Cold War levels, compared with a 38 percent reduction in the active Army.

Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Reserve provides both peacetime and wartime augmentation to the active duty Marine Corps. In peacetime, Reserve units take on commitments that provide training for wartime tasks and also relieve active duty operating tempo. In wartime, Reserve units augment, reinforce, or backfill active duty units.

Based on experience since 1993, a reduction of about 4,200 Marines in the Marine Corps Reserve is possible. The current plan is to reduce Reserve infrastructure through a combination of fewer active duty personnel in support of the Reserves, active Reserves, individual mobilization augmentees, and drilling Reserves. The Marine Corps will conduct a study to determine the exact nature of these reductions and/or restructuring.

Navy. The QDR calls for some restructuring of Naval Reserve forces resulting in reductions of 4,100. While some additional Reserve personnel will be required to support the transition of combat logistic force ships to the Military Sealift Command, other Reserve positions will be reduced due to the reduction of surface combatants and submarine tenders as well as the early withdrawal of the SH-2 helicopter from service. In addition, the Navy is recommending some cutbacks in overseas activities that will decrease the requirement for reservists assigned to base support.

Air Force. The Air Force has the most integrated Total Force on a day-to-day basis. This is especially true of its mobility force associate units, where Reserve personnel often work side-by-side with their active counterparts, even sharing the same aircraft. A large percentage of Air Force mobility and support missions, in peacetime and in war, are flown by Reserve personnel.

The Reserve fighter force has also been used extensively in many peacetime missions. However, some efficiencies can be gained. One initiative will consolidate Reserve aircraft into larger units, allowing savings in operations and support costs. All Reserve component fighter units will have 15 aircraft assigned. This will be accomplished by transferring a wing of active aircraft to the Reserve. The Air Force will also convert six air defense squadrons to general purpose, training, or other missions, leaving four squadrons for air defense. Also, older aircraft will be retired and replaced by aircraft transferred from the active force. Including the changes in missions, the net result is little change in total numbers of Reserve component fighters, but a significant increase in Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve capability and flexibility.

               *               *               *

The Department of Defense will develop a legislative package to be submitted with the FY 1999 President's budget seeking drawdown transition authorities to assist our active, Reserve, and civilian personnel as we achieve the manpower reductions described in this section.


We examined mobility requirements across a continuum of planning scenarios, from smaller-scale contingency operations to major theater wars and single-theater conflicts against notional regional great power adversaries. In each case, we measured the ability of DoD's long-range investment program for strategic mobility to support potential deployment requirements. The QDR reaffirmed DoD's baseline requirements for intertheater mobility, as outlined in the 1995 Mobility Requirements Study Bottom-Up Review Update.

To meet our force deployment objectives, the mobility update recommended an airlift capability of approximately 50 million ton-miles per day. The study also recommended a surge sealift capacity of 10 million square feet, made up of fast sealift ships, large medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) vessels, and the Ready Reserve Force. It called for an afloat prepositioned cargo capacity of four million square feet for the Army and Marine Corps and a complementary land-based prepositioning program. We plan to have six Army land-based brigade sets of prepositioned equipment (three in Europe, one in Korea, two in Southwest Asia) plus a Marine brigade set in Norway. In addition, we maintain significant stocks of prepositioned equipment afloat - three Marine Corps Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons, one heavy brigade set of Army equipment, and selected munitions for the Air Force. Consideration is being given to creating a third heavy brigade set for Southwest Asia. The QDR examined the extent to which these mobility forces could meet DoD's intertheater lift needs in the decades ahead. The review reaffirmed these requirements which, in turn, will guide DoD's long-range planning for strategic mobility forces.

The burdens placed on U.S. strategic mobility forces will not become less demanding in the future. To the contrary, the potential demands of peacetime engagement, reduced infrastructure at overseas bases needed to support airlift en route to a crisis, the likelihood of smaller-scale contingencies worldwide, and the increased possibility of confronting nuclear, biological, and chemical threats all pose challenges for mobility forces that were not accounted for in the mobility update. These and other key issues will be evaluated and will receive increased emphasis as DoD formulates upcoming budget requests for strategic mobility programs.

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