The Joint Force

To execute this strategy the United States requires forces of sufficient size, depth, flexibility, and combat power to defend the US homeland; maintain effective overseas presence; conduct a wide range of concurrent engagement activities and smaller-scale contingencies, including peace operations; and conduct decisive campaigns against adversaries in two distant, overlapping major theater wars, all in the face of WMD and other asymmetric threats. This section describes the "full spectrum" forces needed to meet these core requirements, including their three key characteristics; their general size and composition; their overseas posture and readiness; and the capabilities and strategic enablers essential to the execution of this strategy.

Characteristics of a Full Spectrum Force

US Armed Forces as a whole must be multi-mission capable; interoperable among all elements of US Services and selected foreign militaries; and able to coordinate operations with other agencies of government, and some civil institutions.

Multi-Mission Capable. Our forces must be proficient in their core warfighting competencies and able to transition smoothly from a peacetime posture to swift execution of multiple missions across the full spectrum of operations. They require the correct mix of capabilities between and within the Services, and among conventional, nuclear, and special operations forces. In addition, our armed forces must strike an appropriate balance between the exploitation of advanced technology and the recognition that most military missions remain manpower intensive. The wide range of likely military operations demands that our forces be able to quickly shift from one type of operation to another. They must also retain their ability to operate successfully despite an adversary’s use of asymmetric means. The leadership, discipline, organization, and training inherent in maintaining our core warfighting competencies are the foundation of our ability to adapt readily and efficiently to the challenges peculiar to a wide variety of smaller-scale contingencies.

Joint. Each Service, including the US Coast Guard when assigned, brings its own set of capabilities and strengths to a mission. Some situations demand the unique capabilities of only one Service, but most will call for capabilities from all Services. The skillful and selective combination of Service capabilities into Joint Task Forces provides US commanders great flexibility in tailoring forces to meet national objectives given specific circumstances. As important, it presents an enemy with an overwhelming array of capabilities against which to defend. A fully joint force requires joint operational concepts, doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures -- as well as institutional, organizational, intellectual, and system interoperability -- so that all US forces and systems operate coherently at the strategic, operational, or tactical levels. Joint effectiveness does not mean that individual pieces of equipment or systems are identical, but rather that commanders are not constrained by technical or doctrinal barriers among the components of the joint force, and that the joint force’s capability is dramatically enhanced by the blending of complementary Service capabilities.

Interoperable. All elements of US joint forces must be able to work together smoothly. Success on the battlefield will depend on the operational and tactical synergy of integrated, agile Service forces. Although we must retain the capability to act unilaterally, we prefer to act in concert with our friends and allies. Laying a solid foundation for interoperability with our alliance and potential coalition partners is fundamental to effective combined operations. We remain committed to doctrinal and technological development with our key allies and to combined training events and exercises that contribute to interoperability.

It is imperative that our Joint Forces also enhance their ability to operate in consonance with other US government agencies, and with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), International Organizations (IOs), and Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) in a variety of settings. The specialized access and knowledge these organizations possess can facilitate prompt, efficient action to prevent conflict, resolve a crisis, mitigate suffering, and restore civil government upon conflict termination. Achieving interagency and civil interoperability through the continuing development of our doctrine and interagency participation in our training exercises is important to the unity of effort upon which success in many missions depends.

Today’s Force

The Total Force. The Total Force requires the unique contributions of its Active and Reserve Components and its civilian employees. All elements of the Total Force must be appropriately organized, modernized, trained, and integrated. As described in the QDR report, the Total Force required to carry out the President’s 1997 National Security Strategy and this supporting military strategy at prudent military risk includes:

Army -- Four active corps with ten active divisions (six heavy, two light infantry, one airborne, and one air assault); and two active armored cavalry regiments; fifteen National Guard enhanced separate brigades; the capability provided by appropriately restructured National Guard combat divisions; and other appropriate forces.

NavyTwelve aircraft carriers, eleven air wings, twelve amphibious ready groups, 116 surface combatant ships, 50 attack submarines, and augmentation forces of the Naval Reserve.

Air ForceA total fleet of 187 bombers , just over 12 active fighter wing equivalents, eight reserve component fighter wing equivalents, and four National Guard dedicated continental air defense squadrons (other forces will be used to handle the US air sovereignty mission) together with the currently programmed tanker and airlift fleets.

Marine CorpsThree active Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) each comprised of a command element, a division, an aircraft wing, and a service support group. The active force will continue to be augmented and reinforced by one Reserve division/wing/service support group.

Coast Guard -- Approximately 50,000 active and reserve personnel and 43 medium- and high-endurance cutters.

Civilians -- Approximately 640,000 men and women whose support is essential to the maintenance of our readiness. From depot workers to senior level leaders, they work together to perform functions ranging from policy direction to maintenance of our total force.

Special Operations Command -- A joint special operations force consisting of approximately 47,000 Army, Navy and Air Force active and reserve personnel.

Reserve Components. The Reserve Components, in addition to being essential participants in the full range of military operations, are an important link between the Armed Forces and the public. Mobilization of the Reserve Components has always been an important indicator of the commitment of national will. Guardsmen and reservists are not only integrated into war plans, but also provide critical skills in carrying out contingency operations, as well as augmenting and supporting active units during peacetime. National Guard and other Reserve Component elements also provide the NCA with a strategic hedge against uncertainty and with an organized basis to expand our Armed Forces if necessary. Additionally, they also provide a rotational base to ease the tempo of unit and individual deployments for the Active Component.

Posture. Most US forces are based in CONUS but are continuously available for deployment. We will maintain roughly 100,000 military personnel in both the European and Pacific regions. Additionally, we will maintain an appropriate presence in the Arabian Gulf region to deter threats to our interests there. These forces signal our commitment to peace and stability in these regions. They affirm our leadership of important alliances and allow us to help shape allied defense capabilities. They underscore our commitment to remain engaged as a stabilizing influence, reinforce our bilateral relations with key partners, alleviate the potential for destabilizing arms races, underwrite deterrence in key regions and strengthen our voice in international forums.

Readiness. The readiness of US military forces to meet the full range of missions has never been more important. Ready forces provide the flexibility needed to shape the global environment, deter potential foes and, if required, to rapidly respond to a broad spectrum of crises and threats, including major theater wars. In addition, readiness instills in our people the confidence needed to succeed in a wide variety of challenging situations. Each Service has a different approach to readiness, due to unique force characteristics, contingency plans, response requirements, peacetime forward deployment levels, the availability of training infrastructure and perishable skills. The Services will maintain readiness sufficient to meet the most demanding deployment requirements while seeking sensible management practices that conserve resources and mitigate the potential negative effects of high operational and personnel tempos.

Capabilities. As noted throughout this NMS, the US military must have capabilities that give the national leadership a range of viable options for promoting and protecting US interests in peacetime, crisis, and war. The Joint Force must be able to defeat adversaries in two distant, overlapping major theater wars from a posture of global engagement and in the face of WMD and other asymmetric threats. It must respond across the full spectrum of crises, from major combat to humanitarian assistance operations. It must be ready to conduct and sustain multiple, concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations. In addition to these core requirements, US Armed Forces provide the NCA with several equally important capabilities.

Strategic Deterrence. Credible standing nuclear and conventional forces cause potential adversaries to consider the consequences of pursuing aggression. Although most nuclear powers continue to reduce their arsenals, our triad of strategic forces serves as a vital hedge against an uncertain future, a guarantor of our security commitments to our allies, and a deterrent to those who would contemplate developing or otherwise acquiring their own nuclear weapons. Strategic nuclear weapons remain the keystone of US deterrent strategy. A mix of forward deployable non-strategic nuclear and conventional weapons adds credibility to our commitments. Deterrence is further enhanced by the ability of US forces to attack targets even when access to regional bases may not be feasible or assured. Geography and political constraints on access will not restrict our ability to conduct long range, stand-off attacks against a full range of targets in hostile territory.

Decisive Operations. In situations such as an MTW, the Armed Forces must be able to gain the initiative quickly. Our forces must have the capability to halt an enemy; immediately initiate operations that further reduce his capacity to fight; and mount decisive operations to ensure we defeat him and accomplish our objectives. But wresting military initiative from the enemy is not the end of our commitment. From the onset of a crisis or conflict until termination, our forces must be able to conduct and sustain operations that accomplish US objectives, promote post-conflict stability, and prevent the recurrence of conflict.

Special Operations. The range of challenges to our security demands an ability to influence certain events with forces that are smaller and less visible than conventional formations, offering the NCA options that do not entail a major military commitment. Special Operations Forces provide this capability and offer unique skills, tactics, and systems for the execution of unconventional, potentially high-payoff missions.

Forcible Entry. The United States must be able to introduce military forces into foreign territory in a non-permissive environment. While the United States will pursue the cooperation of other governments to allow US forces access, it must not assume that such cooperation will always be forthcoming. A forced entry capability ensures that the US will always be able to gain access to seaports, airfields, and other critical facilities that might otherwise be denied. It reassures allies that our ability to come to their aid cannot be denied by an enemy. It also allows future joint force commanders to retain operational freedom of action and gives the United States the ability to go anywhere that US interests require.

Force Protection. Multiple layers of protection for US forces and facilities at all levels, beginning at home, enable US forces to maintain freedom of action from predeployment through employment and redeployment. Fluid battlefields and the potential ability of adversaries to orchestrate asymmetric threats against our forces require that we seek every means to protect our forces. Comprehensive force protection requires the employment of a full array of active and passive measures. The variety of challenges that we will face may also require less than lethal technology to meet demands at the lower end of the range of military operations. Force protection initiatives must thus address all aspects of potential threats, to include terrorism, WMD, information operations, and theater ballistic and cruise missiles.

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The continued proliferation of WMD, particularly chemical and biological weapons (CBW), has made their employment by an adversary increasingly likely in both major theater war and smaller-scale contingencies. US forces must have a counterproliferation capability balanced among the requirements to prevent the spread of WMD through engagement activities; detect an adversary’s possession and intention to use WMD; destroy WMD before they can be used; deter or counter WMD; protect the force from the effects of WMD through training, detection, equipment, and immunization; and restore areas affected by the employment of WMD through containment, neutralization, and decontamination. Since many operations will be conducted as part of an alliance or coalition, we must encourage our friends and allies to train and equip their forces for effective operations in environments where WMD usage is likely.

Focused Logistics. Military operations in today’s environment require the ability to tailor logistics packages to meet operational and tactical requirements in hours or days. US forces must have the ability to link information, logistics, and transportation technologies together to permit continuous operations by leaner and more agile forces in any environment, including those contaminated by the effects of NBC agents. Joint sustainment initiatives such as Joint Total Asset Visibility, the Global Transportation Network, and the Global Combat Support System are deployable, automated supply and maintenance information systems that provide in-transit visibility, eliminate redundant requisitions and reduce delays in the shipment of essential supplies. In-transit visibility, in particular, is key to realizing the benefits of focused logistics. Our efficient use of these systems produces a smaller logistics tail that reduces the burden on transportation systems, requires fewer resources to defend, is more difficult for an enemy to detect and target, and enhances our own mobility.

Information Operations. Success in any operation depends on our ability to quickly and accurately integrate critical information and deny the same to an adversary. We must attain information superiority through the conduct of both offensive and defensive information operations. Information operations are, however, more than discrete offensive and defensive actions; they are also the collection and provision of that information to the warfighters. Superiority in these areas will enable commanders to contend with information threats to their forces, including attacks which may originate from outside their area of operations. It also limits an adversary’s freedom of action by disabling his critical information systems. We are developing joint doctrine for offensive and defensive information operations that assigns appropriate responsibilities to all agencies and commands for assuring committed forces gain and maintain information superiority. This emerging joint doctrine must fully integrate interagency participation allowing us to leverage all existing information systems.

Strategic Enablers. A number of assets – strategic enablers -- are critical to the worldwide application of US military power and our military strategy.

People. Our nation is committed to an All-Volunteer Force. Its people are the most important enabler of our strategy. The quality of this force is critical. Only the most dedicated, well-trained personnel with first class leaders will succeed in the complex and fast-paced environment of future military operations. While modern technology enables our forces to perform their missions more effectively, it cannot substitute for high quality people. To recruit and retain people who meet high military standards, the quality of life of our military personnel must be commensurate with the sacrifices we ask them to make. We must provide challenging career options, continual professional development, adequate compensation, medical care, housing, and a stable retirement system. To ensure the viability of the Reserve Components, we must work to safeguard their employment rights and provide employers with incentives for continued support. We must manage the tempo of operations, deployments and personnel transfers to avoid adverse effects on our people and their families. Sustaining core warfighting competencies while adopting new technologies and operational concepts also requires continuous training and education. Finally, the defense of our country and the lives and welfare of our people should be entrusted only to military leaders of honorable character who prove worthy of their profound responsibilities.

Robust All-Source Intelligence. A globally vigilant intelligence system that is able to operate in a complex environment with an increasing number of potential opponents and more sophisticated technology is critical. Our Armed Forces require the timely collection, evaluation, and assessment of a full range of geo-political, socio-economic, and military information throughout the full spectrum of conflict. Our intelligence system must be capable of maintaining its global warning capabilities even while focusing on one or more crises. It must overcome increasingly varied means of deception and protect and secure its information channels. It must respond to the warfighters’ needs during compressed decision cycles, and accommodate "smart" and "brilliant" weapons systems that pass targeting information directly to weapons platforms. The technical ability to deliver large quantities of intelligence to all levels without overwhelming commanders and leaders has enormous promise. However, quality intelligence remains equally dependent upon subjective human judgment, from collection and processing to production and dissemination.

Global Command and Control. Robust intelligence and assured information systems are also critical to the command and control of our forces. Global communications must allow for the timely exchange of information, data, decisions, and orders. The ability to gather, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of reliable and precise information under any conditions is a tremendous strategic and military advantage. A secure C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) architecture must be designed and developed from the outset for rapid deployment and with joint and multinational interoperability in mind.

Air and Sea Control. The successful application of military power is dependent on uninhibited access to air and sea. Control of these mediums allows the United States to project power across great distances, conduct military operations, and protect our interests around the world. Our forces will seek to gain superiority in, and dominance of, these mediums to allow our forces freedom to conduct operations and to protect both military and commercial assets.

Space Control. As we will continue to do at sea and in the skies, we will also endeavor to maintain our current technological lead in space as more users develop their commercial and military capabilities. It is becoming increasingly important to guarantee access to and use of space as part of joint operations and to protect US interests. Space control capabilities will ensure freedom of action in space and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.

Strategic Mobility. Robust strategic sealift, air mobility, and ground transportation combined with prepositioned supplies and equipment ashore and afloat, are critical to maintaining strategic agility. In addition our forces will normally require access to US and overseas support infrastructure to maintain our ability to project power in times of crises. Enroute infrastructure will assist our forces in rapidly establishing and positioning themselves to dominate any situation. Keeping pace with evolving technology in the transportation industry guarantees our mobility forces continued global reach. Strategic mobility enhancements like increased airlift capability, additional prepositioning of heavy equipment afloat and ashore, increased sealift surge capacity, and additional material handling equipment (MHE) will ensure strategic agility and facilitate our ability to protect our national interests and assist our allies when needed.

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