August 10, 2005 | WebMemo on National Security and Defense
Every four years, the Department of Defense conducts a review of its forces, resources, and programs and presents the findings of this Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to the President and Congress. The QDR provides a basic strategy for addressing critical issues like budget and acquisition priorities, emerging threats, and Pentagon capabilities for the next 20 years. There are many important topics under consideration in the 2005 QDR, and a "QDR Team" is assigned to take the lead on each broad theme, one of which is roles and missions. What is the appropriate role of and what might be potential new missions for the U.S. military in the areas of homeland security and post-conflict operations? How should these new missions be reflected in QDR deliberations? At a recent Heritage Foundation conference, distinguished experts considered whether these are indeed "new" missions and what are the implications for U.S. national security and military operations of expanding the military's role in these spheres.
Homeland Defense Begins Outside the Homeland
Homeland defense begins overseas, and this must be recognized as part of a global strategy. Afghanistan is good example of the success of this policy. Operations in Afghanistan not only removed the brutal Taliban regime, but also forced al-Qaeda to flee, severely disrupting its finances, communications, leadership, and operations. This success, bolstered by increased preparedness and vigilance at home, is likely one of the main reasons for the security that the U.S. has enjoyed over the past three years.
The nature of the threats that the nation faces has changed rapidly over the past few decades. Formerly, it took the combined resources of a nation or a coalition of nations to fundamentally threaten the U.S. Technology proliferation, however, has empowered small states, individuals, and groups of transnational terrorists with destructive capabilities formerly reserved for larger state actors. Terrorists will seek-and with the advent of miniaturized, transportable capabilities and proliferation, perhaps acquire-weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
The Department of Defense recognizes the new threat environment and is responding with a set of policy changes that will transform it from and industrial age force ready to fight the Cold War to a 21st-century force prepared to respond to any number of unpredictable crises. This evolution, called "transformation," has resulted in substantial change over the last three years, in terms of capabilities, doctrine, and culture. As part of this effort, the Pentagon has begun to rethink its contribution to homeland security, and recently drafted its first ever Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support. The core element of this strategy is the recognition that the U.S. must have an active, layered, and in-depth defense, taken to the enemy. Much like its approach to force protection in the field, DOD recognized that passive, close-in defenses are not adequate. Uncertainty must be injected in the enemy's planning processes and threats must be interdicted before they ever reach American shores. To this end, DOD must identify the battlespace comprehensively, understand its own capabilities, and determine which capability or set of capabilities will most efficiently defeat the threat.
In preparation for the QDR, DOD has identified $30 billion in its budget that already supports homeland defense. This investment ensures continued transformation in four vital domains:
The Military Role in Homeland Defense - A Historical Perspective
The United States government has addressed the role of the military in past strategic reviews. Two documents that went into some detail about this issue are the Pentagon's Bottom-Up Review (1993) and the Executive Summary of the Hart-Rudman Commission (2001). Both of these documents discussed many of the critical homeland defense themes that are currently being debated. Their recommendations provide a strong framework for the new QDR to build upon. With these documents in mind, the QDR must:
Post-conflict operations, post-major combat activities, stability operations, and reconstruction and stabilization efforts are not new, but the recent emphasis (and difficulty in settling on precise terminology) on them is. This concentration is the result of several factors:
Given these environmental conditions, the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan could linger for the next 5 to 10 years. In addition, there is always the possibility that new crises will arise that will also have both military and humanitarian components-such as in North Korea. In order to focus future efforts, it is worth looking at some recommendations born of experience:
Homeland defense and post-conflict operations are not really "new" missions; they have always been with us. However, the evolving 21st-century security environment is changing how we think about-and the relative importance of-the armed forces' role in these operations. The U.S. requires a substantial capability for homeland defense, theater support, and post-conflict operations-on both "home" and "away" missions; it must be adept at both traditional combat operations and providing security for civilians and critical infrastructure (including a large medical component); and it must incorporate the ability to streamline the use of and oversee vital contractor support. Assuring that the armed forces can fulfill their responsibilities without subjecting them to missions that are beyond their core competency will be a challenge for years to come.
For more information on and analysis of the Quadrennial Defense Review, see Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 790, "Defense Department's Serious Thinking About Homeland Security;" Backgrounder No. 1859, " Winning the Peace: Principles for Post-Conflict OperationsExecutive Memorandum No. 954, "Principles for the Next Quadrennial Defense Review"and Lecture No. 864, "The Quadrennial Defense Review: Some Guiding Principles."
Jack Spencer is Senior Policy Analyst for Defense and National Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Kathy Gudgel, former Research Assistant in Defense and National Security, contributed to this piece. This paper is based on presentations given at "The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: New Missions? Homeland Security and Post-Conflict," held on June 9, 2005, at The Heritage Foundation.
This document is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2005/d20050630homeland.pdf