Officials Detail Global Posture Realignment Process
Officials Detail Global
Posture Realignment Process
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
Washington D.C. (AFPN)
June 24, 2004 -- The realignment of U.S. forces in
the world will mirror the changing threats and be a result of a fundamental
shift in national security, the DOD undersecretary for policy told the House
Armed Services Committee on June 23.
Douglas Feith said that the effort now under way thinks through how U.S. forces
may be used in the coming decades. Key to this thinking is that the United
States will be working with allies in the full range of military operations,
from combat to peace.
President Bush ordered Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to study where U.S.
troops are based in the world and realign them to mirror the new security
environment. In South Korea, the effort has already resulted in a reduction of
12,500 U.S. servicemembers in that country. DOD officials tout that while that
drops the numbers of troops, it does not diminish the capabilities of U.S.
forces in the region.
Mr. Feith said U.S. global posture is the legacy of World War II and the Korean
War. "And after the Cold War ended, there were substantial reductions taken, but
they were reductions in place," he said. "They were really not a realignment of
our forces around the world."
In Korea, many U.S. positions are exactly where they were when the fighting
stopped in 1953, Secretary Rumsfeld said.
Mr. Feith pointed to the realignment's premise: One important national security
asset the United States possesses is its network of alliances and defense
partnerships. That concept is one of five ideas that has shaped thinking on the
realignment issue, he said. DOD officials want to expand allied roles and build
"Secondly, we wanted to develop the flexibility to contend with uncertainty," he
said. During the Cold War, the threat was the Soviet Union. The United States
was committed to defend Western Europe. U.S. troops were in place and equipment
pre-positioned for them if the Soviets came through the Fulda Gap corridor that
ran through then-East Germany into West Germany.
That is no longer the case. "We have found that we've engaged in military
operations over the last dozen years or so in places where nobody anticipated
engaging in military operations," he said. "And it is clear that one of the most
important phenomena in the world today is uncertainty."
U.S. forces must be positioned around the world so they can respond to events,
Mr. Feith said. "We do not believe that we know where we might have to do
military operations," he said. "We therefore cannot be confident that we are
based where we're going to fight. And for that reason, we need to have a force
posture that allows for flexibility."
Military leaders will focus not only within regions, but also across regions. "The
idea that we have forces, for example, in Europe that are going to fight in
Europe or forces on the Korean peninsula that are dedicated to Korean
contingencies, is no longer our thought," Mr. Feith said.
Combatant commanders will no longer "own" forces, he said. "(Secretary Rumsfeld)
makes clear to everybody, the only person who owns forces, as it were, is the
president, who can use the armed forces of the United States across regions as
necessary," he said.
The United States also needs rapidly deployable capabilities. "That's a concept
that has many parts, … but among those parts are not simply where you are
putting facilities, but also how the forces are organized, how pre-positioned
equipment is configured, so that you have the ability to move a battalion
somewhere without having to unpack a division's worth of equipment," he said. "We
need to have capabilities that are readily deployable."
Finally, the key measure of effectiveness is not the numbers of forces, but the
capability of those forces. The number of forces in a country is not an adequate
measure of U.S. commitment, he said. Rather, the capability the U.S. presence
brings is paramount.
"What we are stressing is the importance of capabilities," Mr. Feith said. "And
the goal of our realignment is to push capabilities forward so that we have
greater ability to fulfill our commitments and to perform military operations as
United States officials will continue to speak with allies worldwide on this
program. They will continue to negotiate with allies on the American footprint
in their regions, Mr. Feith said.