Work: DoD Transforms Global Posture for Future Needs
By Cheryl Pellerin,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – September 30 , 2014 – In a time of constrained budgets and
unprecedented geopolitical challenges, defense leaders are taking longer-term
approaches to the defense strategy and changing the way they use forces overseas
to respond to the dynamic security environment, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob
Work said here today.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaking to the CFR in Washington, D.C., Sept. 30, 2014
Addressing an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, Work said these
shifts are part of the broader context of changes the department is making to
its global posture, its global operating model and the way it engages with the
“I’ll tell you the way I think about our global posture,” Work said, reading
his definition to the audience:
“The deliberate apportionment and global positioning of our forward-stationed
and our forward-deployed forces, and the development of supporting global attack;
global mobility and logistics; forceful entry; command, control, communications
and intelligence forces; and the supporting security relationships and legal
agreements that we make in order to facilitate the rapid concentration of forces
in time and space across transoceanic distances.”
“It's kind of a long one,” he smiled, “but that is what our posture is about
and … that is what makes us the only truly global power.”
Work added, “Having each of those components and our willingness to sustain
them and pay for them is what allows us to rapidly project decisive military
power or capabilities -- whatever is called for across the world's oceans in
support of our national interests -- at times and places of our own choosing.”
Being a global power gives the nation enormous advantages in global strategic
reaction time, geographic positioning of forces, and force concentration and
support, he added, and it is vital to giving the United States a favorable
strategic balance in peace and war.
The U.S. global posture constantly evolves over time and changes in reaction
to changes in the global security environment and threats that arise, he added.
Work said the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review noted that the stressful
strategic and budgetary environment compels the Defense Department to think
creatively and develop new ways to manage and employ the joint force as it
engages with the world.
“Even as we downsize under fiscal pressure and even as we reduce the size of
our military,” Work added, “we will maintain this global posture with … key
components that assure our allies, dissuade potential competitors, deter
adversaries and if necessary helps us either respond appropriately or defeat any
Global operating model
The global operating model the United States strives for now that is
described in the president's Strategic Guidance of 2012 and built out in the
2014 QDR has five priorities, the deputy secretary said.
These are to rebalance the U.S. focus and U.S. forces to the Asia-Pacific
region to preserve peace and stability there, to maintain a strong commitment to
security and stability in Europe and the Middle East, to sustain a global
approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats with an emphasis
on the Middle East and Africa, to invigorate efforts to build innovative
partnerships, and to strengthen U.S. alliances while pursuing lower-cost
innovative approaches to U.S. presence.
“As these objectives suggest,” Work said, “we are not just moving to the Asia
Pacific or rebalancing our forces.”
The United States will have a true global posture but with an emphasis on the
Asia-Pacific region, he added.
“Two key portions of any global posture are what we would call forward
presence. These are the numbers of forces forward stationed with their families
on a base overseas. The other ones are rotationally forward deployed forces.
Together, those two comprise our forward presence,” the deputy secretary said.
The important goal DoD wrestles with under intense budget pressure is to get
a proper mix between forward presence forces and those based in the United
States and U.S. territories that are surge forces, he added.
“They're two sides of the same coin -- the yin and yang of our global
posture,” Work said. “But as we face the twin challenges of reduced force
structure and reduced readiness caused by sequestration, we have to critically
reexamine some assumptions that have driven the balance between forward presence
forces and surge forces since the end of the Cold War.”
For the past 20 years, the deputy secretary said, DoD has assumed that with a
force sized to conduct two nearly simultaneous major combat operations, it could
also sustain a major-combat-operation level of worldwide “shaping operations” --
forward presence forces trying to shape the international environment to a more
peaceful conclusion -- without affecting the readiness of surge forces for a
Today, after 12-plus years of war, it has become harder and harder as a
department to sustain this model, he explained, and gradually DoD has had to
concentrate only on forward presence forces and those that were to be the next
ones to fight.
Sequestration and unrelenting operation pressures from the wars made the
situation even worse, the deputy secretary said.
“Ensuring that we can defeat any foe in a resource-constrained era will
require us to make hard choices. We need to engage globally [in a different way]
and that's what we're struggling to do,” Work added.
The United States still will maintain robust forward-deployed forces where
the strategic rationale is compelling, he said, and where U.S. priorities make
it imperative to do so.
“But our forces won't be large enough to give our combatant commanders all
the forces they would want in theater at every single moment to be prepared for
any regional contingency, he said, “because for far too long we've chosen to
sacrifice readiness of the surge force or of the base force instead of
reallocating forces that were already out in theaters across combatant command
areas of responsibility.”
A key principle going forward, he added, will be to reprioritize limited
assets and develop innovative ways of maintaining forward presence as the
department rebuilds its readiness.
The department is approaching this mandate in different ways, Work said,
including stationing forces forward if possible and right-sizing the global
“The Army is developing regionally aligned forces, tailored packages that
emphasize skill sets,” he explained. “They’re brigades that … go out as packets
of platoons. Remember, we're looking for low-cost, low-footprint approaches, and
these emphasize skill sets that are particular to regions of the world.”
Work added, “We're all getting away from a one-size-fits-all mentality.”
Another way to innovate is to use what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey calls dynamic presence. Work described this as
“figuring out the minimum deterrent force that you might need in a theater and
then using the rest of the force more dynamically across the world.”
The deputy secretary likened it to going from a demand-side model to a
supply-side model, or “from where the [combatant commands] demand forces and we
provide them everything we possibly can, to a supply-side model in which we send
forces out [but keep] the balance between readiness in the surge and forward
presence and then dynamically task it” worldwide.
Innovations, including military demonstrations and exercises, will underpin
the new global posture, which the deputy secretary said must be more dynamic and
flexible and must aim to continue to support a future force that operates
“We’re aiming for what famed British naval historian Sir Julian Corbett
called elastic cohesion, a term he used to describe a fleet that could be widely
disbursed but quickly concentrated in time,” Work said.
“So our elastic and cohesive future joint force, although smaller,” he added,
“will still retain an unrivaled ability to concentrate power across transoceanic
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)