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American Forces Press Service

Changing DoD's Global Posture an 'Enormous Undertaking'

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2005 The Pentagon’s move to change its global footprint will be an “enormous undertaking” that will be “unprecedented,” the Defense Department’s director of strategy on global posture said here today.

In an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service, Barry Pavel said this could well be the first time that any country has purposely designed a new arrangement of its overseas forces and capabilities on a global basis.

“So the impact will be felt across the defense establishment, and in some cases across our country, and across other countries,” he said.

The repositioning of the U.S. military around the world is part of DoD’s transformation into a lighter, more agile force, Pavel said. The Pentagon wants to station these forces in places where they will be rapidly deployable to potential hotspots around the world.

By repositioning its overseas force, Pavel said, the Pentagon is looking “10 to 20 years ahead” to the challenges it may encounter, while trying to design military capabilities to accommodate the new world it faces. That new world, he said, emerged Sept. 11, 2001, and called for a U.S. military force different from the one built by Cold War-era thinking.

During the Cold War, he said, the military inherited a global posture where in some cases the United States had forces in a particular region or country that were “tied to operate in that country, or in that region, and in some cases for one particular mission.”

Those forces were heavily concentrated in Europe and northeast Asia, and “those concentrations were tied to the contingencies we fully expected,” Pavel said. But in the post-9/11 world, Pavel added, “we can’t afford one force for one country and the rest of our forces for the rest of the world,” he explained.

U.S. forces have to be “flexible,” he said, and able to act on a global basis. “We don’t know where we are going to be attacked, (and) we don’t know where we will want to protect our interest,” he explained.

Pavel said North Korea’s announcement that it has nuclear weapons reaffirms the direction DoD is taking with changing its global posture.

“In this case, the announcement isn’t really a surprise, but it is a very important factor that I think our new global posture helps us to address better,” he said. “We are now in new era where we don’t know where we will needing to deploy our forces, so we can’t afford to tie into (or) overconcentrate our forces for particular scenarios. We need to broaden our coverage; we need to diversify our access so that we can go anywhere with any forces we need, to deal with whatever circumstances we face.”

Pavel pointed out that the new global posture will affect some military facilities overseas. Much like the base realignment and closure process stateside, Pavel said, the repositioning of forces will mean that some overseas military bases and facilities will close.

He said the military likely will keep many of its large main operating bases, and may consolidate others, and that forward operating sites and central service locations also are a military priority. He also suggested that military facilities with advanced training and logistical capabilities such as Ramstein Air Base and the Army’s training complex in Graffenweir, both in Germany, also are high on the Pentagon’s list of facilities it will continue to need.

But the repositioning of forces could mean that some 70,000 servicemembers and more than 100,000 family members will be brought home from overseas locations, Pavel said.

He pointed out that changes already have begun. The United States has scaled back its presence in Saudi Arabia, which he said has “helped U.S.-Saudi relations,” and in South Korea, U.S. forces are moving further south and out of Seoul.

“We have to have a global force,” Pavel said. “We can’t afford to ‘wall off’ or tie our forces down to a particular scenario or particular missions.”

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