|Pentagon Publishes Strategy Documents
By Al Pessin
18 March 2005
The U.S. Defense Department has published two documents outlining the U.S. strategy for winning the war on terrorism and preparing for future conflicts. The documents call for an active military and civilian policy designed to minimize threats around the world, and to be able to respond decisively when necessary.
Page one of the new National Defense Strategy begins with the words, "America is a nation at war." The document goes on to lay out a program of policies and initiatives designed to counter threats from countries and terrorists anywhere, and to enlist the help of as many countries around the world as possible.
Presenting the strategy documents Friday, the Under Secretary of Defense for policy, Douglas Feith said part of the strategy is prevention, in his words to prevent "problems from becoming crises and crises from becoming wars." He said some of that work belongs to the military, through training and consultation with foreign forces, but much of it relates to the State Department and other U.S. government agencies.
Mr. Feith also said the military part of the strategy is designed to ensure that U.S. forces can win any conflict.
He said one important goal is to create an international environment in which countries that might threaten the United States, or support terrorists who do, have incentives not to do so. He said that approach worked with Libya, and is now being tried with Iran.
And Mr. Feith confirmed that for the first time, the United States is bringing its allies into the process of developing these strategies, and the more specific military plans that will follow. "We want to be able to work with our allies not simply in operations, but also in the development of strategy. We want to work with our partners in developing, for example, a common assessment of the security situation, a common assessment of threats, a common assessment of the kinds of capabilities that are needed to deal with those threats. And thinking things through strategically with one's allies and partners is a major contribution to encouraging them to work with us and do things that serve our common interests," he said.
Mr. Feith declined to respond directly when a reporter asked whether that approach was inspired by the international controversy over the U.S. decision to lead a coalition into Iraq, in spite of strong opposition from some key allies and many other countries. He did, however, disagree with the contention that the strategy documents formalize a more aggressive U.S. posture in the world.
"A lot of the talk about this subject over the years to suggest that what has been done in this administration is a departure from past practice, is just wrong," he said.
Mr. Feith said the new strategies are a natural evolution of well-established self-defense doctrines, adapted to the threats of today's world.
Rear Admiral William Sullivan, vice-director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the military part of the strategy focuses on the ability to respond quickly and decisively to multiple conflicts in unpredictable locations.
"The principles that are espoused stress agility, the ability to react quickly, the ability to amass force, where necessary, from dispersed locations. It really stresses speed. And it really stresses jointness and integration, not just integration among the (U.S. military) services, but integration with our friends and allies and integration with other agencies of the government that are essential for national security," he said.
The theme of "integration" is prominent in the new strategy documents. Mr. Feith, the Under Secretary of Defense, said the United States can not win the global war on terrorism alone or through only military means. He said the key part of the struggle is ideological, and is part of a broader U.S. government strategy that goes well beyond the Department of Defense.
The strategy documents published Friday will now be used by U.S. military commanders worldwide as a basis for evaluating their units' capabilities and needs as part of a major review done every four years, and due to be presented to the Congress next January.