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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Undersecretary of Defense Policy Michele Flournoy February 01, 2010

DOD News Briefing with Undersecretary Flournoy and Vice Adm. Stanley

MS. FLOURNOY: Can we have the slides, please?

I'm assuming they're going to catch up with us in a moment.

The first slide was supposed to put the strategic reviews in context.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: I think we've got it now.

MS. FLOURNOY: Okay, there we go.

The QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review] and the BMDR [Ballistic Missile Defense Review] are just two of four departmental reviews we have under way. This is the fourth congressionally-mandated QDR, and the department's first ballistic missile defense review. Together with the NPR -- the Nuclear Posture Review -- and the Space Posture Review, these documents really offer the department a strategic agenda for the next several years.

We've also been working very closely and collaboratively with other U.S. government agencies on their reviews, as well as the White House on our national security strategy. And all of these are really based on a common vision. The result is that both our internal department reviews and our government-wide reviews on national security are more integrated than ever before.

Before going into the details of each of our reviews, let me just give you a couple of highlights of each one. Next slide.

The QDR has its roots in the president's and the secretary's common vision of our need to both rebalance our defense capabilities and also reform how the department operates. If this QDR were to have a bumper sticker, it would be "rebalance and reform." You saw this vision first expressed in the FY '10 budget. The QDR builds on the momentum from that period, and at the same time provides a strategic framework for dealing with today's wars and plausible future challenges.

As the secretary highlighted, we put top priority on prevailing in today's conflicts. We owe our people in harm's way nothing less.

We also stress the importance of prevention and deterrence, and of preparing for a wider range of future challenges, as pillars of our strategy. This QDR also elevates the need to preserve and enhance the all-volunteer force to a strategic imperative. This is arguably the most important pillar of America's defense.

Rebalancing our forces in support of these strategic priorities means that U.S. forces must be flexible and adaptable to confront the full range of plausible challenges. One of the most critical insights from our force planning in the QDR was that to underwrite this flexibility in the near- to mid-term, we need more and better enabling capabilities -- things that the secretary mentioned, like intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, rotary-wing aircraft, language skills and so forth.

Improvements in these and other enablers will expand our ability to prevail, prevent and prepare in the future. So let me -- and I'll speak to the other bullets later in the briefing.

Before I turn to the details of the QDR, let me just give you a few highlights from the BMDR. In parallel with the QDR, we conducted this review to evaluate ballistic missile defense policies, strategies, plans and programs. The BMD review aligns our missile defense posture with near-term regional missile threats, while sustaining and enhancing our ability to defend the American homeland against limited long-range missile attack.

This review identified six major priorities that will shape our missile defense approach. These are, first, to sustain and enhance our ability to defend the homeland against limited ballistic missile attack; second, to defend against growing regional threats; third, to test new systems under realistic conditions before they're deployed to ensure their effectiveness; fourth, to develop new capabilities that are fiscally sustainable over time; fifth, to develop flexible capabilities that can adapt as threats evolve; and finally, to lead expanded international cooperation on missile defense.

We believe this approach will provide reassurance to our allies that the United States will stand by our security commitments to them, will help to negate the coercive potential of regional actors attempting to limit U.S. influence and actions in key regions, and help strengthen regional deterrence architectures against states who are acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Through strengthened international cooperation with allies and partners in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East, the United States seeks to create an environment in which the development, acquisition, deployment and use of ballistic missiles by regional adversaries can be deterred.

In addition to strengthening and expanding regional cooperation in this area, the United States will also be seeking to engage Russia and China on missile defense and in strategic dialogue.

Next slide, please.

I'd like to step back now and describe the security environment that we assessed going into both of these reviews, and really provides a foundation. Our view of the security environment begins with the wars that we're in, in which we see -- which we see not as aberrations, but really as harbingers of a dynamic and complex future landscape. The rise of new powers, the growing influence of non-state actors, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and a series of global trends continue to pose profound challenges to international security. And these strategic trends will create a very challenging operating environment for the U.S. military.

First, as the secretary alluded, warfare is becoming increasingly difficult to categorize along the traditional spectrum of conflict. Adversaries will employ innovative, often asymmetric methods to offset our traditional strengths. This could involve proxy forces, terrorism, cyber attacks, other forms of coercion, anti-access capabilities and new operational concepts.

Second, recent security trends highlight the need for international cooperation to maintain stability and access throughout the global commons. The global commons are really the connective tissue of the international system, and they're challenged today by things like piracy, the development of anti-satellite capabilities, cyber attacks and so on.

Third, as we've seen all too clearly over the past decade, state weakness can create as many challenges for our forces as state strength. Weak states heighten the risk of sectarian strife, terrorist sanctuary, regional tensions and humanitarian crises.

Next slide.

This QDR explicitly linked the priority objectives of the defense strategy to force planning. And force planning is really the process we use to determine the overall size and mix of capabilities for the force. The bottom line of our force planning approach is this: just as our forces today are operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti and elsewhere around the world, we must be ready and able to project power in multiple regions of the world at the same time, using a range of air, land, sea, cyber and space capabilities.

Out of necessity, this QDR focused on present conflicts as well as potential future needs. Necessity was, in this case, the mother of invention, forcing the department to belatedly break from the post- Cold War focus on canonical conventional wars, which describe only a part of the likely threat spectrum, and develop a much more flexible force sizing approach better suited to a much more complex and rapidly-changing environment.

This QDR underscores the importance, as the secretary said, of maximum versatility across the spectrum of conflict. Our forces, to be sure, will still be able -- still be able to fight and win two large-scale regional conflicts, but they will also be sized and shaped to succeed in combinations of other -- of operations other than major theater wars.

In the near term, our force planning emphasizes prevailing today. And even today, however, we strive to deter threats worldwide, ensure our preparedness to defend the homeland, and defeat potential aggressors, while reducing -- to reduce the strain on our forces.

Over time, as the operational environment allows, we expect to have more forces available to underwrite prevention. The examples provided under the "prepare" bullet of the slide are -- simply demonstrate the range of plausible futures against the -- against which we tested our forces in the QDR. Our force planning also highlighted the need to return our forces to more sustainable rotation rates in the mid to longer term.

Next slide.

The six mission areas that are on this slide certainly do not encompass the totality of the ways in which our armed forces serve, but they do serve as particular areas of focus, both today and into the future. And in each of these areas, we've tried to connect the dots between strategy, program and resources, taking initiatives to improve our capability in these critical areas.

For example, in building a homeland response force in each of the 10 FEMA regions, we're going to be able to provide a much more flexible and responsible type of support to civilian authorities in the event of a homeland defense crisis. Similarly, increasing the availability of our rotary-wing assets and unmanned systems for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and improving counter-IED capabilities will improve our counterinsurgency, stability and counterterrorism capabilities.

Building partner capacity by increasing our security force assistance capabilities, including linguistic, regional and cultural expertise, will help prevent conflict and reduce the demands on U.S. forces over the long term.

And developing a joint sea-air battle concept will help ensure power projection even in the face of anti-access challenges.

Assuring access to space and our use of space assets will remain a critical area, as will enhancing our capabilities to prevent and counter WMD [weapons of mass destruction] proliferation.

We're also taking steps in this QDR to strengthen cyberspace expertise and command of U.S. military cyber efforts.

Next slide.

Turning to the BMDR and how it shapes the force, as I said, the key objectives are to maintain defense of the homeland against limited ballistic missile attack while refocusing our efforts to counter immediate regional threats.

Concerning defense of the homeland, we're currently protected against a limited ballistic missile attack, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. We will continue to invest in this capability and to hedge against the possibility of new threats emerging. It's important to note that U.S. homeland missile defense efforts are focused on regional actors such as North Korea and Iran, and are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia or China.

With regard to rapidly expanding regional ballistic missile threats, the United States will place increased focus on regional missile defenses. We've made significant progress in developing and fielding short- and medium-range missile defense capabilities, but these capabilities currently exist only in modest numbers. With this reality in mind, it's important to think strategically about how we develop and deploy missile defense capabilities. And so we plan to work with allies and partners to strengthen regional deterrence architectures built on foundations of strong, cooperative relationships and appropriate burden-sharing.

We plan to pursue a phased, adaptive approach to missile defense that's tailored to threats and circumstances unique to each region. And we'll be -- and consistent with the QDR, we're going to ensure that our missile defenses remain flexible and adaptable so that they can confront the full range of threats wherever they emerge.

Next slide.

The QDR also lays out an important reform agenda. And I know Undersecretary Hale will go into more detail on this, but let me just emphasize that first and foremost among these efforts is taking care of our people. We must enhance warrior and survivor care, and over time reduce deployment time and increase time at home.

Though the force has remained incredibly resilient over eight years of war, we must sustain that resiliency with targeted investments for service members and their families. And again, Bob Hale will talk you through some of our initiatives in this regard.

Achieving our key objectives will also require close collaboration with key partners at home and abroad. Overseas, we will build on our existing network of alliances and partnerships, and expand cooperation across the board. We will also refine our approach to global posture, tailoring our mix of forces stationed and rotationally deployed, and our military-to-military relationships to the dynamics of each region.

At home, we'll require -- we require a strong and fully resourced cadre of civilian national security professionals for homeland security and overseas contingencies. And this department fully supports initiatives to strengthen the capabilities of State, USAID, Department of Homeland Security and others.

Reforming our internal processes is probably the most difficult challenge. Even as operations require greater agility and innovation in our force, our processes and institutions have often lagged behind. Rebalancing our capabilities can only achieve so much without further reforms to our processes. These are -- there are many important reform issues, and they're worthy of an entire review unto themselves. But in the interest of time, I'd like to just highlight a couple of these.

First is security assistance reform. Despite an increased emphasis on the capacity building mission over the past few years, our efforts remain constrained by a complex patchwork of authorities, shortfalls in resources, unwieldy processes, and limited ability to sustain such undertakings beyond a short period of time. DOD will certainly make internal adjustments to make the process of implementing foreign military sales more efficient and ensure that our security cooperation manning reflects these requirements.

We'll also be looking to work with our interagency partners and members of Congress to develop new and innovative approaches to reforming how we provide security assistance.

Second is export controls. The president has directed a review in this area to better reflect the globalized economy and our fluid security environment. The current system can often impede cooperation, interoperability, and technology sharing with allies and partners. And at the same time, it does not always provide adequate enforcement mechanisms for violations.

As with security assistance reform, this is an interagency -- an inherently interagency problem, and one that will require close partnerships with Congress to fix.

And finally, let me highlight climate change and environment. This is the first QDR to address climate and energy issues, which are both significant factors in the future security environment.

Climate change could increase demand for U.S forces and humanitarian response, creating a new operating environment in the Arctic, and requiring adaptation in our own facilities and systems.

DOD's enormous dependence on energy makes its operations vulnerable to disruptions in energy flows and to price fluctuations. DOD aims to be a leader in the government to improve sustainability, resource efficiency, increase of renewable energy supplies, and reduction of energy demand to improve operational effectiveness and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Let me close -- next slide -- by again underscoring the fact that the QDR and the BMDR really build on the rebalance and reform agenda that Secretary Gates began in the FY 2010 budget. Together, these reviews provide a strategic framework that sets clear priorities for the department, and provides clear policy and program guidance for the FY '11 budget.

In short, we believe this QDR connects the dots between our defense strategy, our program, and our budget. And in doing so, it advances our efforts to rebalance the U.S. armed forces and reform the department to meet the complex challenges of today and tomorrow. And with that, let me stop and take your questions.


Q With countering weapons of mass destruction, as far as shaping the force to achieve that, walk us through what you're looking at. The QDR talks about positioning forces to monitor and track lethal agents and materials, and where relevant, defeating the agents themselves. Are we looking at, you know, special forces teams that would have capabilities to do this kind of thing? Just walk us through it.

MS. FLOURNOY: In the -- this -- the countering WMD area was really a focus area in the QDR, and we tried to take a systems approach, if you will, to the analysis. How do we try to stop proliferation in the first place? Should weapons or materials become loose, how do we actually identify them, interdict them, eliminate them, deal with them and so forth.

So we looked at this across the range of possible scenarios and contingencies. And we made substantial investments in a number of areas, including ISR and intelligence, including in some of our special operations capabilities. The JTF elimination that was mentioned, that is a headquarters.

So it would be -- play a coordinating function in a contingency involving loose or proliferating WMD.

So there are also investments in things like nuclear forensics, in bioterrorism threat reduction and so forth. So it's a very broad range that's laid out and sort of a soup-to-nuts approach.

I don't know if you want to add anything to that.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: I think that's pretty much it. There is a large R&D [research and development] investment that will continue to develop these types of capabilities. But that's it.

Q One other thing that jumped out here is, you say enhanced domestic counter-IED capabilities. Do you think it's possible or likely we'll start seeing roadside bombs in the United States?

MS. FLOURNOY: I think that our investment in counter-IED capabilities was driven primarily by the threats we are seeing overseas.

Yes, go ahead.

(Cross talk, laughter.)

Q Ma'am, I'm curious. I'll ask you the question I asked Secretary Gates a while ago.

What is the status of the Space Posture Review? There had been some talk that the NSC was unhappy with what was sent over from the Pentagon. I'm not sure if that's true or if you have any comment on that.

And when do you expect a final report to go over to Congress? What were the issues that were holding up the report?

MS. FLOURNOY: The Space Posture Review, which is a departmental effort, was being conducted in parallel with a presidential review of our national space policy. And as we got into that interagency review, we really came to believe it's very important to set the parameters of that first, before firming up our own conclusions in the Space Posture Review.

And so we decided to sequence them a little bit more, and to allow the interagency review to have time to be completed. In the meantime, we'll offer Congress an interim report on the Space Posture Review that details our current posture and programs. But then we'll aim to turn in our new Space Posture Review following on the president's strategy in the June time frame.


Q Secretary Gates mentioned a new emphasis on conventional Prompt Global Strike. And I'm wondering how that fits into your overall strategy, what threat you're really looking at, grappling with, with conventional Prompt Global Strike, and when and what -- in what basing mode you're looking at ultimately fielding something conventional.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: So how does it fit in?

What it fits into is the prevent-and-deter section of the Quadrennial Defense Review, and it's principally about deterrence, right? And if you look at the deterrence architecture that's laid out, one of those tenets is strong conventional forces. Another is prompt global strike. Nuclear weapons play a role still. Our ability to defeat ballistic missiles, the ballistic-missile defense capabilities of this department, play a role in deterrence. So all of those things taken together give us a deterrent posture that we can deter an adversary. So that's the idea.

Q When are you looking to field that, and in what basing modes?

VICE ADM. STANLEY: Basing modes would be both land-based, and we are considering whether or not submarine-based, initial strike would be appropriate.

Q Got any time frame on that at all?

Q I asked Secretary Gates a while ago about that joint task force headquarters for eliminating weapons of mass destruction, and he said, ah, that's just a recommendation. But a question is -- I'm left uncertain as to: everything in the QDR is a recommendation, or a musing upon threats and capabilities?

MS. FLOURNOY: I think there are a couple of things. The joint task force headquarters actually -- the seed of that already exists. And that is endorsed in the QDR and there's money in the budget for that headquarters to continue to reach full operational capability, as I understand it.

There are some follow-on discussions to be had about what additional capabilities to stand up in support. And this is something you're going to see, frankly -- we took one bite at this apple in this year's review. This is going to be something that continues to be a priority in the coming years over the FYDP, and you'll see additional growth in the countering WMD capability area over time.


Q Thank you. Cyberspace has its own section of this. I know Secretary Gates talked about the importance. But do you see a disconnect between sort of concrete institutions being set up -- cyber command and all of that -- and still, the world of cyberspace, there's a complete lack of definition -- what's an attack, what's a probe, inability to determine where it's coming from.

What is being done specifically to bridge this gap so that cyber isn't just sort of shadowboxing and billions of dollars are being spent on it?

MS. FLOURNOY: Well, I'll take the strategy question, and you might want to take the command question.

You know, I think that this is an issue -- the challenges we face in cyberspace -- and frankly, the opportunities as well -- is something we're really grappling with on an interagency basis. This is not just a DOD mission; there are many aspects of this that are really led, frankly, by other departments.

That said, there are some very concrete threats and challenges that we are experiencing, even today. And we have to better organize ourselves to deal with that. And so, you know, whether it is exploitation for -- whether it is offense, whether it is defense, we are working through those issues conceptually. But in the meantime we've got to better organize ourselves to deal with some of the challenges that are on our doorstep.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: And so I would add that the first step in getting to that organizational structure is decide who's in charge. And that's what cyber command does. We will then take the direction from that commander, through the combatant commander, in this case strategic command, to define the way ahead.

Now, there is, as Secretary Flournoy's already discussed, there's a lot of ongoing activities. We're establishing defenses. We are involved in exploitation activities. And we're positioning ourselves in order to be able to conduct attack. So all of those different areas are on-going. The cyber command focuses it and establishes the structure that we'll use in the future.

MS. FLOURNOY: Yes. Right here.

Q Hi. You mentioned that this report elevates the all-volunteer force to a strategic imperative. Wonder if you can explain just how that translates into an action or something new in the -- in the new budget. And later on, also in the force planning section, you mentioned, you know, having resized and shaped forces to operate in other threats other than the two-theater. And again, how? What does that -- what does that -- what does that mean for this budget or for the future? More -- less of something, more of something else? What's the reality of those suggestions?

MS. FLOURNOY: All right. I think that Bob Hale will give you a lot of the budgetary detail behind -- or that undergirds the taking care of people priority. But it does include substantial initiatives in the area of wounded warrior care, health care writ large, family support, and efforts to reduce operational deployment tempo over time. But I'll let him put the meat on those bones during his budget briefing.

Yes, in the back? Yes, with the red tie? Yes, that's you.

Q Yeah. Secretary, I wanted to know where the way forward is on the bomber strike program, that was the next generation bomber, has now been brought back into the QDR. You want to expand long-range strike capabilities. How does that capability differ from the last time it was articulated in the last QDR? What does it look like now going forward? There's only about ($)1.7 billion in the budget over the FYDP for that program. So what does it -- what's it look like?

MS. FLOURNOY: I'll let Admiral Stanley speak to the programmatic issues, but one of the insights that came out of this QDR was that we needed to take a much more in-depth look at the full range of capabilities for long-range ISR and precision-strike, and the whole question of a follow-on strategic bomber. And so one of the things we decided in the QDR is that we weren't ready to make definitive long-term programmatic decisions; that we wanted to make some investments that would keep technological opportunities going, but we wanted to take some time to get this right and to study it in much more depth. So you will see that study ongoing this coming year, with the aim of putting real dollars into the program in -- starting in '12.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: And that's -- this is where policy leads program. That's exactly what we've done. I mean, the policy -- we have to define the policy, we have to evaluate the threat, decide what capabilities are reasonably achievable, and then have a -- it's a portfolio-like approach to execute those capabilities, is what we're envisioning right now. So that study will be ongoing over the next year.

MS. FLOURNOY: Yes, ma'am.

Q Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News. I wanted to ask you about your reference to missile defense and getting Russia and China involved. Talked often -- the administration's talked often about trying to get Russia more involved.

Where are you on that? And what's your idea about how to get China involved? And how does the backlash over the Taiwan arms sale affect your plans in that regard?


Q Have you started discussions with China?

MS. FLOURNOY: With regard to Russia, we, after the European phased adaptive approach decision was made, we did brief them on the change of plans and what the program would look like. We invited them to begin a dialogue with us about shared early warning. Russia has a number of radar systems, other ISR systems that would be very helpful in a more cooperative approach to the defense of that region. And so we've invited them to have that discussion. We're hopeful that they'll take us up on that invitation.

With regard to China, it's been more an invitation to have more strategic dialogue. That covers not only missile defenses but nuclear forces, sort of how we see the security environment and our response to it. It's really trying to inject greater transparency into our discussions about what each country is doing with regard to the development of its military capabilities.


Q Secretary, you talked in the QDR about managing the deployment tempo. This has been a topic of discussion for the last several years. Defense leaders constantly get up here and talk about the need to try to get to a better dwell time for service members. Now we actually have end dates in sight in Iraq and at least a drawdown -- the beginning of a drawdown in Afghanistan. When can service members, both active and Reserve, start to see these 2-to-1 and 5-to-1 deployment ratios, actually high-value -- high-value skills notwithstanding, actually take place?

MS. FLOURNOY: I’ll let Admiral Stanley answer that.

VICE ADM. STANLEY: The real answer is, you ought to discuss that with the Army and the Marine Corps.

But we think, as the responsible drawdown happens and the timing of that -- we're down to about 50,000 by the end of August and out of Iraq by December of '11.

We think, as that -- as that becomes real, in about two year’s time, the deployed -- the forces that will be deployed -- I'm sorry, I said that incorrectly -- the forces that will have returned from deployment will start a two-year dwell period. So that's about --

Q The Reserve, sir --

ADM. STANLEY: Say it again?

Q The Reserve component?

VICE ADM. STANLEY: Don't know now off the top of my head. Again, I recommend that you talk -- Army and Marine Corps on that.

MS. FLOURNOY: Yes. This second row. Gentlemen on the left. Yeah.

Q Another question on the Space Posture Review. It's my understanding that one of the sticking points was over the possibility of merging the GPS systems and the European Galileo system. Can you comment on that possibility?

MS. FLOURNOY: I would be surprised if it was a sticking point, because I don't think we're quite there, that far along yet.

We are really -- as I said, you know, this is -- the delay was not so much that there were disagreements we couldn't solve as much as wanting to make sure that the posture review was really driven by national -- a new national space strategy, which hasn't been revised in many, many years.

STAFF: We have time for about one more, is all.

MS. FLOURNOY: Okay. Right here.

Q The QDR calls for wholly new concepts of operation. What missions are we talking about here, and what do you see ahead? What kind of concepts do you need to come up with?

MS. FLOURNOY: The -- I'm sure you will want to join in on this one, but the challenge is that, as the secretary is -- loves to say -- you know, when was the last time we really were very good at predicting the next war? It -- you know, we -- the truth is, we see an extremely complex environment, with a multiplicity of challenges, and we can't afford to ignore any of them.

And so, as we do our concept development work, where do -- we've broken out of the canonical two conventional wars and challenged ourselves to look not only across the spectrum at individual types of operations, but how do they challenge us when they're in different combinations. And that's really the analytic work that began in this QDR and will continue afterwards.

ADM. STANLEY: Again, I would give you two examples. One is the enhanced recognition of our special operating forces. And the second thing would be the idea that our ground forces need to be out there, engaged, just as we've come to expect of our maritime and aviation forces over the years, building partnership capacities, working together. So both the special operating forces and the ground forces, this thrust to be forward -- recognizing that's an enduring part of what we need from our Department of Defense capabilities is an important priority in this QDR.

STAFF: (Off mike.)

MS. FLOURNOY: Okay. Thank you very much.

STAFF: Thank you very much.


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