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American Forces Press Service

Lynn: New Threats Require New Capabilities

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Jan. 25, 2010 – Developing new capabilities to deal with new and future threats requires defense cooperation and collaboration, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today.

Speaking before the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic and International Security at the House of Commons, Lynn said his goal is to strengthen collaboration between the U.S. and United Kingdom militaries and defense industries.

The need for new capabilities is evidenced by today’s threats, he said. Insurgents use roadside bombs that penetrate heavy armor. Rogue states seek nuclear weapons. Terrorists relentlessly attempt attacks using unconventional means. Criminals launch cyber attacks.

“Even our computers, as Google discovered this month, are no longer safe from attack,” the deputy defense secretary told the members of Parliament and invited guests from think tanks, the media and the academic community.

“We now face hybrid conflicts where even weak states and terrorists have access to the most sophisticated and deadly weapons,” Lynn said. As a result of this new age of asymmetric warfare, defense officials on both sides of the Atlantic are confronting questions about the future of defense.

U.S. and British defense leaders are conducting strategic reviews and working to ease restrictions that prevent sharing certain technologies. Like their European counterparts, Lynn said, U.S. military leaders are struggling to equip forces in a time of fiscal austerity.

“Since spending defense dollars wisely is a common challenge, the Obama administration wants to ease the cost of developing new weapon systems for us both,” he said.

This type of defense cooperation has been done before, he noted. During World War II, for example, the British Merlin engine powered the American-made P-51 Mustang fighter -- the best fighter aircraft of the war. But export controls developed during the Cold War, and still in force today, make collaboration difficult. Because of the bureaucratic system, he said, “the most technologically advanced nation in the world is the least able to use its technology to aid its allies.”

The U.S.-U.K. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty now in the Senate for ratification is an important step in improving this system. “When ratified,” Lynn said, “it will streamline export procedures, helping strengthen our ability to develop and acquire battlefield systems jointly.”

The treaty will allow greater exchange of defense goods, services and information. Companies in the United States and the United Kingdom will be able to collaborate more easily. “Our governments can focus on developing critical technologies instead of pushing licenses through bureaucratic labyrinths,” Lynn said.

“Legally enforceable safeguards will ensure the integrity of sensitive materials transferred under the treaty, and each country will retain the right to unilaterally exempt technologies from its provisions,” he added. “Ratifying the treaty, as we say in American English, is a ‘no-brainer.’

“In an era where research and development is global,” he continued, “we believe in building higher walls, but around fewer items. A system of export control that protects only truly unique capabilities is better for our national security, our economy, and our allies.”

Countering new threats also requires new strategy, Lynn said. "We believe that the new challenges we face require significant shifts in how we train, equip and structure our force,” he told the group, and he highlighted three steps the United States is taking to align military capabilities with the new range of threats.

First, he said, U.S. defense officials are institutionalizing the armed forces’ ability to wage irregular war by upgrading special operations forces and strengthening the battlefield enablers for irregular operations, including helicopter lift, mine-resistant vehicles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

Second, defense officials are restructuring forces to prepare for a range of potential conflicts, including those of longer duration, such as the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“In the two wars we are fighting, it is not the intensity or scale of the initial combat phase that proved the most challenging,” Lynn explained. “Rather, after eight years in Afghanistan and Iraq, we’re finding that it is the duration of these conflicts that places tremendous stress on our military. These wars have now lasted longer than the U.S. participation in World War I and II combined.”

As a result, he said, U.S. defense leaders have halted reductions in the Navy and Air Force and accelerated a planned increase of Army and Marine Corps ground forces.

Third, Lynn said, U.S. defense officials are broadening military capabilities to counter unconventional weapons -- everything from weapons of mass destruction and anti-satellite technologies to roadside bombs and guerilla warfare.

“Battlegrounds used to be a meeting place of like-on-like forces -- cavalry on cavalry, armor on armor. In the Cold War, it was nuclear versus nuclear,” Lynn explained. But the superior conventional strength of U.S. forces, he added, has led potential adversaries to seek new means of attack.

U.S. and British officials also must prepare to counter attacks on the cyber domain, Lynn said, noting that the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks have increased exponentially in the past few years. More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to hack into U.S. systems, along with criminals with world-class cyber capabilities. “Our networks are now under threat every hour of every day,” he said.

“Your military and your economy are as dependent upon information technology as ours -- and therefore just as vulnerable to the cyber threat,” Lynn warned the group.

To deal with the cyber threat, the U.S. military is establishing a Cyber Command, and U.S. officials plan to work with allied nations to confront this type of warfare.

“The reality is that we cannot defend our networks by ourselves,” Lynn acknowledged. “International cooperation is imperative for establishing the chain of events in an intrusion and quickly and decisively fighting back.”

The United States and the United Kingdom are stalwart allies facing the same security challenges, and both must make hard choices on defense investment, Lynn concluded. “And soon, our defense industries will partner in the acquisition of new weapons to keep us safe.”

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