Review shows dramatic shift in Pentagon's thinking

By Mike Mount, CNN

Posted at Feb 01 2010 05:24 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2010 01:24 AM

WASHINGTON DC, United States -- The Pentagon will no longer shape the U.S. military to fight two major conventional wars at once, but rather prepare for numerous conflicts and not all in the same style, according to a draft of a new strategic outlook the Pentagon is announcing on Monday.

The new mantra for military planners will replace the almost 25-year-old combat planning style of fighting and winning two major conventional wars in two different locations in favor of a fighting force that is capable of protecting U.S. interests around the world from a range of threats, from terrorism to cyber attacks.

The change will be addressed in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated document that looks at future threats and the military's requirements to mitigate them.

"It is no longer appropriate to speak of major regional conflicts as the sole or even primary template for sizing, shaping or evaluating U.S. forces," according to a draft first obtained by Inside Defense.

The review will come on the same day the Pentagon presents its 2011 budget.

According to Pentagon officials, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be asking for $708 billion, including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $44 billion more the 2010 budget of $664 billion.

The last major review was released in 2006 and the Pentagon's view of the world has changed dramatically in the four years since.

The 2006 review was heavily focused on the threat of a large-scale conventional war with China and that country's saber rattling over Taiwan. It also stressed the need for more of and a greater role for special forces troops for use in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 2010 review still stresses the threats from China, but will look at the need to defend against a growing threat of cyber attacks -- without directly tying China to past cyber attacks, according to Pentagon officials -- and China's focus on preemptively striking and crippling an adversary's ability to tell what it will do next ahead of a large attack.

"Prudence demands that future conflicts could involve kinetic and non-kinetic (use of explosive weapons and laser weapons) attacks on space-based surveillance and communications," according to the draft.

The review will put heavy stress on quenching the insatiable need for more unmanned aerial vehicles, including Predator and Reaper, the Air Force's premier UAV's used by the military for both reconnaissance and air strikes. The aircraft are used in Iraq, Afghanistan and over Pakistan and Gates has said the Pentagon needs more.

According to the draft review and U.S. military officials, the Pentagon is looking at building up the number of aircraft in the air over combat zones from about 40 to 50 by 2013 and to 65 by 2015.

The review also stresses learning better and more efficient ways to use the drones by improving operating effectiveness and using new technologies.

The UAV category is just one way the Pentagon is shifting its priorities to position itself for current and future conflicts.

Roadside bombs continue to be the number one killer of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The QDR roadmap continues to recognize the need to protect U.S. troops by enhancing training and intelligence.

Intelligence shows that terrorists have plotted to get their hands on biological, chemical or nuclear material to attempt and attack and the Pentagon foresees weapons of mass destruction to be a continued threat in the future and will push better WMD detection capabilities.

"The Department will expand capabilities to counter WMD threats, strengthen interdiction operations, refocus intelligence requirements, enhance and grow international partnerships and thwart proliferation," the draft says.

While special operations forces (SOF) continue to be a priority from the 2006 QDR, the new review places emphasis on improved support for the elite troops.

That support is expected to include new gunship aircraft to protect the troops during combat missions as well as additional support personnel who would improve intelligence and communications for the SOF troops.

The review will also push for more helicopters, something Gates has said the military never can have enough of. A key tool in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to move troops and equipment safely and faster across those countries, they are also a necessity in humanitarian efforts like those after Hurricane Katrina and most recently for the delivery of aid in Haiti.

With the main military effort focused on Afghanistan, the review says a priority will be put on helicopters there.

"As operations in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan grow in scope and intensity, more rotary wing lift capacity will be needed to ensure that coalition and Afghan forces can be resupplied at remote outposts and effectively cover their areas of responsibility," according to the draft.

But as the Pentagon looks to its new planning for future conflicts, the report also says it can be done in an environmentally responsible way by using more solar power, biofuels and overall energy independence as well as pointing out that the Department of Defense, "provides environmental stewardship" at hundreds of bases around the country.

However, a bigger challenge the Pentagon will face is future conflicts fought around and over reduced resources and environmental catastrophes.

The review calls these climate change scenarios, "accelerant of instability" and suggests the military will have to plan on operations where climate (rising sea levels, reduced ice in the Arctic) would be a factor in planning. In addition to what climate change effects could bring in terms of the spread of disease, mass migration and a scarcity of resources.