Risks Increasing as Full Range of Operations Confronts U.S. Troops
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2007 – Military personnel going to Iraq or Afghanistan are trained, equipped and ready to do their jobs, but there is more to defending the United States and its interests than counterinsurgency operations, the nation’s top military officer said today.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that risks have increased because U.S. forces are not training for the full range of operations that may confront them.
A problem facing the military is an expansion of Marine Gen. Charles C. Krulak’s “three-block war” scenario, Pace said. Krulak meant that on one block servicemembers could be engaged in peacekeeping operations, on the next block they may be engaged in peacemaking ops, and on the next block servicemembers could be engaged in full combat. “That pretty much applies to the globe, as well as the streets of any particular city -- in Baghdad, for example,” Pace said.
Pace said the United States military has the opportunity in the peacekeeping arena to affect friends and allies around the world. Many of these allies have the will, but not the money or expertise to defend themselves or to provide the kinds of governance their nations require.
“It is in that opportunity that the other elements of our government being able to deploy, being able to help those countries provide for their citizens before they devolve into a situation where their citizens turn to terrorists or terrorist acts,” Pace said.
American forces have vast experience with peacemaking operations, in which forces go into countries -- preferably as part of a coalition -- and impose security so that good governance can take place. Bosnia and Kosovo were peacemaking operations, Pace said.
Finally, there are conventional conflicts. Pace said the U.S. military needs to be ready to counter a conventional enemy in a conventional war, such as could break out on the Korean Peninsula, Pace said. “We did not expect in 2001 to have to conduct conventional operations in Afghanistan, but we did,” he said. “There are other countries out there that are gaining (military) capacity.”
When the Joint Chiefs of Staff look at any threat they do so with an eye on capacity and intent. “We can gauge capacity, so we can watch, for example, China increasing its military capacity in very substantial ways,” Pace said. “Today I do not believe that they have the intent to go to war with us.”
The United States must be watching capabilities and intent across the globe to spot potential peer competitors and to make sure the U.S. military stays ahead of its capacities, he said.
American forces have such a short turnaround time before heading back to places like Iraq and Afghanistan that some aspects of their training for these higher ends of war are being shorted, Pace said. For example, combined arms training is being purposely shorted to concentrate on aspects of war that soldiers will need in Iraq, he said.
“So in … that entire spectrum, we need our armed forces to be prepared,” Pace said. “It is that basis that the chiefs have done our analysis of our readiness to conduct the National Military Strategy of the United States over the coming months and years, and it is based on that that we've made our classified analysis that was sent to Congress about two days ago that articulates where we believe we are and how we believe we should proceed to take care of some of the problems we see that are not yet fully taken care of.”
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