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Written Statement of Dr. Edward L. Warner,

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Requirements

Testimony to the House National Security Committee,

Military Personnel Subcommittee

29 January 1998

The Quadrennial Defense Review

Thank you for inviting me here today to talk about the results of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and its impact on our defense program. The Department launched the QDR in mid-November 1996 and published its final report on May 15, 1997. The purpose of the QDR was, first, to formulate a defense strategy that protects and advances American interests in the evolving security environment and, second, to develop a balanced defense program for the next several years that is both affordable and adequate to support our strategy. Under the leadership of Secretary Cohen we have done both.

We began the QDR process with a review of the international security environment. Our conclusions largely tracked with those subsequently reached by the National Defense Panel (NDP). We concluded that the United States is in a period of strategic opportunity; specifically, we do not foresee the emergence of a potential near-peer competitor over the next fifteen years. We nevertheless anticipate a dangerous and uncertain world, with the United States likely facing a number of significant challenges between now and 2015. These include:

  • The continued threat of cross-border aggression from nations such as Iraq and North Korea;
  • Failed states and the attendant security and humanitarian problems they pose, as in Bosnia and Rwanda;
  • The proliferation of advanced weapons and technologies, including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them; and
  • A rise in transnational challenges such as terrorism, international organized crime, and migration.
  • In addition, because of U.S. dominance in the conventional military arena, many adversaries may choose to employ asymmetric means, such as chemical and biological weapons, information warfare, and terrorism, to exploit U.S. vulnerabilities. Like the NDP, we believe that such exploitation may well include threats to the U.S. homeland by terrorists, criminals, and rogue states. And, because we have never been able to predict with certainty what the future security environment will look like, we explicitly called attention to the possibility of "wild card" scenarios-unlikely but not implausible events that could significantly change the international security environment and challenge U.S. interests.

QDR Defense Strategy

The defense strategy articulated in the QDR is designed to address these serious challenges to U.S. security while taking advantage of the perceived strategic opportunity afforded by the likely absence of a near-peer adversary over the next decade. To do so, we must be able to shape the international security environment in ways favorable to U.S. interests, respond to the full spectrum of crises, and prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future.

Shape. While the military has always undertaken activities to shape the international environment, the QDR was the first major review to recognize the centrality of shaping to the military's core missions. Our efforts to shape the international environment focus on promoting regional stability, preventing and reducing conflict and threats, and deterring aggression and coercion. Shaping requires the Department to employ a wide variety of tools, 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, cooperative threat reduction, security assistance, International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, and international arms cooperation. In addition, it requires a close integration of military activities with diplomatic efforts both on a daily basis and in time of crisis.

Respond. Despite our best shaping efforts, there will be times when the U.S. military is called upon to protect our interests. The QDR stressed that the use of U.S. forces should be selective, keeping the costs and risks of a given operation commensurate with the national interests at stake. Because of the uncertainty of the international environment and the many and varied challenges that U.S. forces may face, the QDR determined that the Department must prepare to respond to the full spectrum of potential crises. These crises range from deterring an adversary's aggression or coercion in crisis to conducting smaller-scale contingency operations to fighting and winning major theater wars. In this sense, the QDR departed from the 1993 Bottom-Up Review, making explicit the need to prepare for the unique requirements of smaller-scale contingencies. Further unique to the QDR was its emphasis that our forces must be capable of responding to the full range of crises in the face of asymmetric challenges, particularly the threat or use of biological and chemical weapons. At times, these threats may be targeted against our citizens at home, a prospect for which the nation must be prepared.

A noteworthy aspect of the QDR strategy is the significance it accorded to the role of our allies and friends in responding to crises. The National Defense Panel likewise called attention to this point. While the United States will retain the capability to protect its interests unilaterally, we generally prefer to act in concert with allies and other like-minded nations when responding to crises. Effective coalition-building brings resources to bear beyond those of the United States, thus reducing our burden. It also confers greater political legitimacy when a broader segment of the international community supports a given response.

Since the QDR, attention has focused on our decision to retain the requirement for U.S. forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat large-scale aggression in two theaters in overlapping timeframes. Given America's enduring global interests and today's serious security challenges on the Korean Peninsula and in Southwest Asia, this requirement is a responsible one. The National Defense Panel similarly concluded that "the United States cannot afford to ignore the near-term threats posed by Iran and Iraq in the Persian Gulf and North Korea in Northeast Asia." The two major theater war requirement is central to credibly deterring opportunism and aggression in critical regions and to assuring our allies and friends that we are able to fulfill our security commitments. Moreover, this level of capability helps ensure that the United States is able over the longer term should more capable adversaries emerge or more difficult than expected circumstances arise.

I cannot stress to you enough that our commitment to deterring and, if necessary, defeating large-scale aggression in two theaters is only one element within our defense strategy. As such, it was a consideration in our conclusions on the type of force appropriate for the strategy but it was not the only consideration. This is a critical, if often overlooked point. The strategy's requirements for extensive peacetime engagement and the ability for U.S. forces to conduct multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingency operations also drove our force-sizing decisions, just as they drive the demand for our forces in peacetime. In the Dynamic Commitment wargame series, we assessed the implications of projected U.S. force commitments to simultaneous and sequential smaller-scale contingencies over many years. The Dynamic Commitment series clarified the force requirements for the full-range of these operations.

Finally, I would like to reiterate a point made clear in the QDR: if threats of large-scale regional aggression were to grow or diminish significantly, we would follow the prudent and appropriate path of reevaluating our theater warfighting requirements. In the dynamic, uncertain security environment that we project, the United States must continually reassess that environment, our strategy, and the associated military requirements. This is true not only for our major theater war requirements, but for all elements of the strategy.

Prepare Now. The final element of the defense strategy is preparing now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. This means maintaining U.S. military superiority in the face of evolving, as well as unexpected, threats and challenges. To successfully prepare for the future, the Department is undertaking a transformation effort to identify and acquire the types of capabilities it will need out to 2010 and well beyond. This requires the Department to pursue a focused modernization effort and, importantly, to exploit the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) by incorporating new technologies, doctrine, operational concepts, training approaches and organizational structures into the force. Interwoven with the RMA is a "Revolution in Business Affairs" (RBA) that will facilitate the transformation process by increasing available and resources and radically reengineering the Department's support structure. 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. Finally, in order to ensure our flexibility to adapt to "wild cards," we must undertake insurance policies that position us to respond more effectively to unlikely but significant future threats.

QDR Missions and Force Characteristics

In sum, in order to protect and promote our interests in the current and projected security environment, the United States will remain engaged as a global leader and harness the unmatched capabilities of its armed forces to execute this strategy. The Total Force must be multi-mission capable and postured to provide overseas presence as well as rapid power projection to the most distant corners of the globe. Specifically, U.S. armed forces will remain prepared to:

  • Undertake a wide variety of shaping activities, from promoting regional stability to preventing or reducing conflicts and threats to deterring aggression and coercion on a day-to-day basis;
  • Conduct the full range of smaller-scale contingency operations;
  • Deter and, if necessary, fight and win, in concert with regional allies, two major theater wars in overlapping time frames. Fighting and winning major theater wars presents a series of unique challenges for U.S. forces, and it is a mission in which we must always succeed.
  • Achieve our objectives in the face of asymmetric challenges, including threats or use of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, information operations and terrorism directed our forces, allies, or even our homeland; and
  • Maintain U.S. military superiority to meet future challenges by incorporating new technologies, doctrine, operational concepts, training approaches and organizational structures.

The key to the success of today's full-spectrum force, both Active and Reserve, is the quality of its people. The men and women who comprise our all-volunteer Total Force are of the highest caliber; we must continue to attract and maintain this level of personnel. The fighting force of the next century must be an educated, dedicated, motivated force. We must provide our force with a quality of life commensurate with the sacrifices we ask them to make. Efforts to manage operations and personnel tempo are an integral part of that quality of life as well as a key to maintaining sufficient readiness across the spectrum of potential contingencies. Also essential is our commitment to funding pay raises and other compensation, providing quality housing, health care, community and family support, morale and recreation activities, and transition assistance, and assisting our people with their educational goals.

The QDR Process

The Secretary's decisions in the QDR drew directly on the defense strategy. From the outset, Secretary Cohen insisted that our defense strategy drive the QDR process and resultant defense program. Secretary Cohen and then-Deputy Secretary White nevertheless emphasized the need for realism in our assumptions about future resources. In particular, they stressed the need to have a fiscally-responsible analysis in order to produce a timely and relevant product. We thus constrained our view of alternatives, or paths, for fulfilling the defense strategy to those that were feasible within the projected level of defense spending over the next several years-roughly $250 billion per year in constant FY98 purchasing power. This figure accorded with the joint Administration-Congressional commitment to balance the federal budget by 2002 and the subsequent budget agreement.

To determine what force and programs would best meet the defense strategy within the given fiscal environment, we built the three integrated paths that are described in the QDR report. After a broad debate on the value of the various paths, the Department chose the path that most completely answered the QDR's fundamental challenge: to ensure U.S. armed forces are able to meet the demands of a dangerous world by shaping the international environment and responding to crises throughout the 1998-2015 period.

Making difficult programmatic adjustments to improve the Department's financial posture mirrored this fundamental challenge: how to strike the right balance between meeting urgent obligations in the present and investing in imperative modernization for the future. In particular, the QDR sought to build a solid financial foundation for a modernization program that could reliably support the future warfighting capabilities called for by Joint Vision 2010. Consistent with this goal and the overall defense strategy, the QDR rebalanced defense resources to provide for a more stable and sustainable modernization program into the next century. At the same time, the QDR upheld the capability and readiness of the force in the nearer-term.

In this context, we conducted a full spectrum assessment of force structure requirements. The defense strategy required an assessment of more than just major theater wars that begin from a standing start, so the force structure assessment looked across the entire spectrum of anticipated operations-from military involvement in shaping activities through smaller-scale contingencies to executing major theater wars from a posture of global engagement. The assessment also examined the effects of conducting major theater wars against adversaries armed with biological and chemical weapons. The Department used a broad array of analytical tools in its assessment, including seminars, wargames, computer modeling, and intensive reviews of these efforts-over a period of more than four months-involving senior civilian and military leaders. Based on these activities, we now understand very clearly the demands placed on our force. The force is, in fact, working hard-working hard to protect America's interests and to prevent regional crises from escalating.

But while the force assessment confirmed that U.S. forces are very busy, it also clarified that some parts of the force are more heavily committed than others. Using the relevance of forces across the spectrum and current force utilization as guides, we focused on force structure options that could fully support the strategy.

QDR Decisions

The path ultimately chosen in the QDR required modest reductions in today's force structure- concentrated on the "tail" rather than the "teeth" of our forces-along with a commitment to fundamentally re-engineer the Department's infrastructure and support activities to fund badly needed increases in a focused, executable modernization program and in broader transformation efforts.

Across the Department, QDR actions affecting both military departments and 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 preserve the critical combat capabilities of our military forces and reduce infrastructure and support activities wherever prudent and possible. In making the needed reductions to force structure, we were very sensitive to the fragile nature of our all-volunteer force.

We sought to reduce the burden on our already busy active force by making modest reductions in our active combat and support structure. Those forces ultimately selected for reduction are the ones that are least used in the full spectrum of operations for which we currently prepare or anticipate over the 1998-2015 timeframe.

The Reserve component force reductions were also driven by relevance to the projected security environment. The defense strategy calls for wartime forces that are ready early, in anticipation of the short preparation time likely in future conflict. In peace, our commitments overseas call for forces that can deploy and remain for extended periods, the duration of which we will probably not know at the point of commitment. Given today's threats, the traditional Cold War strategic reserve can be reduced and transitioned into capabilities that have greater utility across the spectrum of conflict, including response to terrorism at home. This transition will increase the depth of the Army's support structure.

The contraction in our civilian workforce will close the gap between force structure and infrastructure reductions, bringing the level of support personnel in line with the size of a post-Cold War military. While some reductions were already planned prior to the QDR, further cuts delineated in the Review will reduce infrastructure employment since 1989 by an additional 6 percent, a total decline of 39 percent.

The Department committed itself in the QDR to developing and fielding new systems that reflect emerging Joint Vision 2010 employment concepts by emphasizing precision engagement, dominant maneuver, full-dimensional protection, focused logistics, and by integrating new technology into existing platforms. To do so, the QDR developed a plan to achieve an aggregate procurement spending objective of $60 billion per year shortly after the turn of the century. The Department's modernization efforts are characterized by several factors. First, we are making selective near- and mid-term investments to deal with asymmetric challenges. For example, the Secretary has added $1 billion over the FYDP to programmed counterproliferation funding. This money is largely targeted at detection and other passive protection measures against chemical weapons. Second, we have a phased modernization strategy that replaces aging systems while leveraging technology designed to confront emerging threats. Third, we are aggressively managing development and acquisition programs in order to reduce technical risk, limit cost growth, and maintain overall stability by arresting the migration of investment resources to other accounts.

All of these decisions were strategy-based but also fiscally-responsible. With these adjustments to force structure and modernization plans, along with a commitment to reengineer infrastructure and fundamentally transform the force, we believe the Department has struck the proper balance between meeting near- and long-term demands within the resources we anticipate will be available.

Transforming the Armed Forces

Successful transformation of the force was a major goal of the QDR and a central recommendation of the National Defense Panel. It is also one of my primary responsibilities as Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Threat Reduction. To transform, the Department must continually evaluate the security environment, the defense strategy and military missions, and the concomitant forces and capabilities it entails. Transformation will require a substantial investment in force modernization and the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).

Both the QDR and the NDP emphasized the importance of the Department's efforts to harness the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs. In his response to the NDP Report, Secretary Cohen announced that he will look to the Deputy Secretary to chair an RMA oversight council within the context of the Defense Resources Board (DRB). The group's central mission will be to monitor RMA efforts as the Department moves expeditiously from developing promising ideas and technologies to fielding of new capabilities, devising new battlefield operational concepts, and changing organizational configurations in the field. Specific near-term objectives for RMA oversight include:

  • Developing a comprehensive picture of current and planned RMA-related activities in the Department;
  • Overseeing the Department's efforts to identify critical transformation challenges, overseeing analyses of alternative solutions, and monitoring implementation of changes in technology, acquisition, operational approaches, and organizations;
  • Reviewing efforts to assure joint and combined force interoperability as we develop new capabilities and encourage international participation in RMA-related activities such as exercises, wargames, and studies; and
  • Reviewing plans for Service and joint exercises and experimentation, to include ensuring appropriate levels of jointness and balancing these high priority exercises and OPTEMPO/PERSTEMPO concerns.


Joint experimentation is an area worth highlighting further. The Department relies on joint experimentation to gain insights into future operational concepts and to validate the ability of new battlefield operational concepts to provide required capabilities. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Joint Training System is shaping the way the armed forces plan, think, and train for future military operations by translating Joint Vision 2010 concepts into an achievable transformation process. The United States Atlantic Command has already begun to combine joint force experimentation with joint force training. An excellent example of this was the Unified Endeavor exercise, conducted in October and November 1997. Unified Endeavor involved commanders and staff from USACOM, a joint task force, a joint intelligence center, and component commands-as well as a parallel lead nation command structure-and provided a vehicle for evaluating advanced concept technology demonstrations (ACTDs) on the synthetic theater of war and the joint countermine concept. The Department is leveraging USACOM's experiences with these exercises and experiments in order to plan and conduct a series of joint force experiments to evaluate the impact of various concepts, doctrines, technologies, and organizations on the warfighting capability of joint and combined forces. The NDP made a series of recommendations regarding this important process and we will address these very carefully in the weeks ahead.

The Defense Reform Initiative

The extent and pace of our transformation efforts depend on the availability of resources to invest in necessary research, development, testing, experimentation, and procurement. In addition, efficient business practices and reduced overhead not only free up resources for experimentation, they also contribute directly to the transformation of the Department's support structure. Through these important connections, the revolutions in military and business affairs are interwoven.

The Defense Reform Initiative, completed in November 1997, reflects the insights of numerous business leaders who have restructured and downsized their corporations in ways that led them to thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace. These leaders made clear that winning in the new era depends as much on our ability to respond quickly as on our ability to overpower foes. This lesson must be learned not only by our fighting forces but also by the Department's business force, working closely with one another. To support the transformation of both our military forces and our support structure, the Department of Defense is embracing four principles to guide its business processes:

  • Reengineering: Adopting modern business practices to achieve world-class standards of performance.
  • Consolidating: Streamlining organizations to remove redundancy and maximize synergy.
  • Competing: Applying market mechanisms to improve quality, reduce costs, and respond to customer needs.
  • Eliminating: Reducing excess support structures to free resources and focus on core competencies.

These principles were endorsed by the National Defense Panel and are at work every day in the Department of Defense. Together with Congress, the Department must ensure that the transformation of U.S. forces is not held back by a burdensome infrastructure and outdated business and acquisition practices.

The National Defense Panel

The National Defense Panel emphasized the centrality of transformation, highlighted the interwoven revolutions of military and business affairs, and provided many valuable recommendations on a range of defense strategy and program issues. Accordingly, we are taking a hard look at these recommendations and evaluating those that appear the most promising. Some examples are:

  • Ensuring a U.S. capability to project power quickly to critical regions in the face of asymmetric threats. The NDP expressed a concern that future adversaries might be able to deny U.S. forces access to needed facilities or even entry into friendly regions. The threat or use of nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) weapons would particularly endanger our power projection capability.
  • Enhancing our homeland defense capabilities. The NDP was particularly interested in clarifying the role of the National Guard and Reserve in responding to domestic incidents, such as managing the consequences of NBC weapons use. The Panel also indicated support for DoD's hedging strategy for developing a National Missile Defense system.
  • Developing greater proficiency in urban operations. The Marine Corps' Urban Warrior Advanced Warfighting Experiment is a prominent example of efforts to explore the requirements associated with operating in urban environments. The NDP proposed expanding on these and other ongoing experiments, concluding that urban operations will be a characteristic of the future security environment.
  • Realigning responsibilities in the Unified Command Plan. The Panel endorsed several adjustments to the regional combatant command structure as well as to the other commands. Allocation of former Soviet countries was a major factor in their recommendations, as were the emerging challenges of space and information threats and defense of the homeland. The CINCs are just now beginning their two-year review of the Unified Command Plan, making the NDP's proposals particularly well-timed.
  • Improving our space protection and denial capabilities. The NDP concluded that U.S. space capabilities are rudimentary, with improvements needed in space protection, denial, surveillance public-private sector coordination, and science and technology.

As the Secretary noted in his response to the Panel's report, we think the NDP has raised these and numerous other important issues for further study. After reviewing the NDP's recommendations in-depth, we plan to report to the Deputy Secretary by mid-April on areas for further action.


The fundamental challenge of the QDR was to ensure the Department's ability to shape the international environment and respond to the full spectrum of crises throughout the 1997-2015 timeframe. To do so, we had to strike the proper balance between managing the threats of today and transforming our forces to meet the threats of tomorrow. We did not have the luxury of doing one or the other. In the QDR defense strategy and program, we struck that balance and did so within the constraints of available resources. Our focus now is to work with the Congress to reduce our support structure in order to ensure the transformation of our forces for the future.

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