Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review released

Friday, February 3, 2006

The Pentagon released its findings from its Quadrennial Defense Review today. This review focuses mainly on defining and identifying weak points in United States defenses, and prescriptions for improvements in those areas.

This review, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review because Congress requires it every four years, does not alter the Pentagon's approach in Iraq. It also leaves intact the Defense Department's broader strategy for keeping the U.S. military big enough to fight other major conflicts.

The plan proposes a 4.8% boost to the Department of Defense budget, eliminates no major weapons programs and includes an 8 percent overall increase for weapons (to US$84 billion) for the budget year starting Sept. 30. This review excludes the Energy Department's nuclear weapons programs.

Overall, there was an emphasis on finding ways to adopt a more indirect approach to the war on terror; a shifted emphasis from performing tasks to enabling other countries to perform. Some of the specific proposals include:

  • Expansion of special operations forces by 15%; the Army's Green Berets and the Navy SEAL commandos, for example, who are trained in specialized warfare skills that are often utilized covertly in cooperation with the armed forces of small countries.
Relevant to this expansion, the Marines are establishing a special operations force for the first time, with an initial goal of preparing 2,600 Marines.
  • An increase by 3,700 (or about one-third) of psychological warfare and civil affairs units. These are in heavy demand in Iraq and Afghanistan because of their role working with local civilian authorities to build trust and influence perceptions of U.S. forces.
  • Building new partnerships in the "War on Terror" by increasing time spent training other armies, navies and air forces, particularly in places, where U.S. troops have not traditionally operated. This in turn, will call for an increased mastery of other languages and better knowledge of foreign cultures.
  • More officers serving stints in foreign militaries to better develop long-term relationships and regional expertise.
  • The creation by the Navy, of a force of small boats that can be utilized in inland waterways abroad to help countries build their own maritime forces to combat terrorists.

Other highlights include:

  • A proposed 10 percent reduction in the fleet of Minuteman III land-based nuclear missiles, from 500 to 450 missiles. Also, the conversion of some nuclear missiles on Trident submarines to non-nuclear missiles within two years. The Pentagon did not specifically state how many are to be converted.
  • A five-year, $1.5 billion program to develop medical countermeasures for bioterrorism threats.