U.S. Military Ready to Handle Any Task, Myers Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers submitted his yearly risk assessment to Congress May 2.
The risk assessment recognized that there is stress on the U.S. military. But, it said, with mitigation U.S. forces can meet their obligations to "protect, prevent and prevail," the missions that are at the core of the National Military Strategy.
Senior officials said the yearly assessment is a "prudent" look at the security situation around the world.
Officials said the U.S. military is learning lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most vital lessons involve the importance of speed in getting to an enemy's "center of gravity." In the long run, DoD officials said, this reduces American casualties.
"The combatant commanders have taken their plans, and they have been changed based upon the lessons of combat that we've had really since 2001," a senior defense official said during a background briefing. And, the official said, DoD leaders have "set that as a very critical goal to try to do that type of operation very quickly, so we've got some pretty good standards as far as that goes."
At the heart of the assessment is the change from numbers of personnel to defense capabilities. "It's the ability to be highly adaptable and agile," said another official. "The ability to change things on the fly, and then the speed with which you move can make a big difference."
Technology drives some of the changes, and transformational technologies all feed into allowing U.S. forces more speed and flexibility. "I can do things a lot different and move faster, maybe need less to do it in, and do it at perhaps less risk," the official said.
One example of this is the capabilities that unmanned aerial vehicles bring to combatant commanders. UAVs allow commanders to view the battlefield day or night and in all weather yet do not require huge numbers of troops.
Combatant commanders are using these new ideas, technologies and manning to accomplish missions in new ways. U.S. officials have reduced infantry forces and added other capabilities, such as strike aircraft stationed forward. The new capabilities more than make up for the reduction in personnel.
Other mitigating strategies include the Navy's Fleet Response Plan, which allows the service to respond faster, and changes to the global force posture.
Still more aspects are increasing "network-centric" operations and allowing more joint operations and capabilities from one service to complement those of another.
The bottom line, according to officials, is that although the U.S. military is stressed, it continues to be the best-trained, best-equipped and best-led military in the world. And, officials said, it is more than ready to take on any enemy in any part of the world.
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