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U.S. Review Seeks Broad Threat Readiness, From Nuclear War to Terrorism

By Kevin Baron

Defense One

Sgt. Isaac Wells, right, of the U.S. Army instructs Filipino counterparts on rifle handling during a training exercise on Philippines' Basilan island during an April 2005 counterterrorism training exercise. The Pentagon this week released a quadrennial review focusing anew on countering terrorism worldwide. Sgt. Isaac Wells, right, of the U.S. Army instructs Filipino counterparts on rifle handling during a training exercise on Philippines' Basilan island during an April 2005 counterterrorism training exercise. The Pentagon this week released a quadrennial review focusing anew on countering terrorism worldwide. (Therence Koh/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pentagon's highly anticipated, four-year strategy review says the U.S. military will remain ready to do everything from nuclear war to counterterrorism.

Released on Tuesday, the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review lays out a vision for armed forces that can downsize, reconfigure and seek bold new innovations, all while staunchly defending America’s borders.

"With the president’s budget, our military will be able to defeat or deny any aggressor," Pentagon officials write in the 88-page document, outlining President Barack Obama’s top-level priorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presents the four-year review as a 10-year plan with three priorities: defend the homeland; build security globally against aggression; and "remain prepared to win decisively against any adversary."

Many of the QDR recommendations are already under way, such as keeping fewer ships and troops at the ready, winding down Afghanistan, keeping a close watch on the Middle East and increasing military-to-military relations across Asia.

It still proclaims the Defense Department’s intention to "rebalance," but instead of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific with a pivot, the Pentagon says it is rebalancing the military to be able to fight a "broad spectrum" of conflicts simultaneously. The U.S. will use the entire government to fight terrorism, the QDR document says, but the military will ramp up its efforts to train foreign militaries to fight for themselves while retaining an ability to get directly involved with special operations forces, if desired. It calls on regional combatant commanders to revise their contingency planning accordingly.

"Reflecting the requirements of this updated defense strategy, the U.S. armed forces will be capable of simultaneously defending the homeland; conducting sustained, distributed counterterrorist operations; and in multiple regions, deterring aggression and assuring allies through forward presence and engagement," the report reads. "If deterrence fails at any given time, U.S. forces will be capable of defeating a regional adversary in a large-scale multi-phased campaign, and denying the objectives of -- or imposing unacceptable costs on -- a second aggressor in another region."

The QDR report is perhaps the most awaited piece of Pentagon guidance the department issues -- one to which the entire defense community from the arms industry to think tank strategists and Capitol Hill staffers will point as justification for national security spending and strategy battles to come.

Hagel presents the QDR document as a result of "tough choices," including reducing the number of troops so that the military can keep higher technological capabilities and "preserve the health of the all-volunteer force."

Reprinted with permission from Defense One. The original story can be found here.

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GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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