December 2, 2005 | WebMemo on National Security and Defense
year-long lecture series on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)-a
congressionally-mandated internal review conducted by the Pentagon
every four years-the Heritage Foundation recently hosted a panel discussion on the role
of America's allies.
To ensure the security of the United States in the decade ahead, coalition operations (actions involving multiple nations), will likely play a prominent role. The Pentagon has promised to address this role in its review. Where should it focus? Distinguished officials gathered to discuss this issue, including Farukh Amil, Political Counsellor and Head of the Chancery at the Embassy of Pakistan; Maj. Gen. Andrew Leslie, Director of Strategic Planning at the Canadian Department of National Defense; and Patrick Suckling, Political Counselor at the Embassy of Australia.
A United Front
The panelists agreed that acting together on common interests is vital. Specifically, the United States should continue to plan and consult with allies, actively share intelligence, and provide leadership.
Among potential threats, transnational terrorism is the most serious. The panelists described their efforts in combating it. Pakistan has committed 81,000 troops to tracking down terrorists along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Canadian troops have been supporting operations in Afghanistan. Australia has had a sustained presence in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Additionally, each of the presenters agreed that nurturing and sustaining long-standing alliances is essential. While "coalitions of the willing," ad hoc cooperation between states for specific operations, may have their uses, they contended that long-term alliances-in which nations build trust, common practices, and shared approaches to military and security issues-will be the mainstay of successful coalition operations in the future.
Islamabad values its partnership with Washington, but desires a broader, long-term relationship that would include a free trade agreement, cultural exchanges, and U.S. investment.
Canada's armed forces remain committed to fostering complementary defensive strategies with the United States. Canada intends to make significant investments in growing and modernizing its armed forces.
Australia welcomes the U.S. security presence in Southeast Asia; maintaining Washington's commitment to the region is of prime importance. Australian leaders believe that the QDR should devote some attention to the Asian-Pacific front in the war on terror as well as the potential for terrorism to flourish within failing states.
For more information on and analysis of the Quadrennial Defense Review, see Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 819, "The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: China and Space - the Unmentionable Issues"; WebMemo No. 816, "The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: New Missions in Homeland Security and Post-Conflict Operations?"; WebMemo No. 785, "The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: The Reserve Component"; WebMemo No. 761, "The Quadrennial Defense Review: The Military Industrial Base"; and WebMemo No. 728, "The Quadrennial Defense Review: Strategy and Threats." All are available at www.heritage.org.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security, and Alane Kochems is Policy Analyst for National Security and Defense, in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.