Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New DoD Policy Office Studies 'Strategic Shocks'

Defense News
March 6, 2006

A new unit in the Pentagon’s policy office called Strategic Futures is looking at scenarios that could change the U.S. military’s role in the next decade, sources say.

The new office will assess “strategic shocks”: wild-card scenarios such as the emergence of a democratic China or an increasingly fascist and nuclear-armed Iran. While such futuristic thinking has generally been the purview of Andrew Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment, it’s a new area for the policy office...

The QDR said Russia would be “unlikely to pose a military threat to the United States or its allies on the same scale or intensity as the Soviet Union during the Cold War.” But Henry said that the last five years have brought signs that the country might be drifting toward authoritarianism...

The QDR singled out China as the emerging power “with the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States.” The review endorsed spending on the kind of expensive conventional weapons that might be needed to fight a near-peer rival, such as advanced fighter aircraft, warships and submarines. Much of the concern stems from China’s communist leadership...

Critics have said the QDR fails to reshape the U.S. military to take on terror groups. Henry said the QDR adequately addressed current and future threats in its recommendations that the U.S. military focus on four areas of emphasis in the review — defeating terrorist networks, defending the homeland, shaping countries at strategic crossroads, and preventing the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction by hostile states...

Paraphrasing Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, Henry said, “the enemy in the long war is very easy to kill but I can’t find him. So the investment strategy is to start thinking about how we move to the finding and fixing part. We have an awful lot in hand we can use to finish.”

Michele Flournoy, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Pentagon official who has criticized the QDR, said the U.S. military appears to be taking a page out of the Israeli counterterrorism book used during the recent Intifada uprising in Palestine.

Israel emphasized taking out “20 militants in 24 hours and taking them all out at once, which, according to [Israelis], had a chilling effect on recruiting, because not everyone who joins a group wants to be a suicide bomber,” she said. If just being part of a group is a death warrant, “maybe it raises the cost” for the militants.

But Israel largely achieved the results through human intelligence rather than through high-tech aerial surveillance, which is what the Pentagon seems to be focusing on, she said.


Clarification On Tactics
Defense News
March 13, 2006

I am writing in response to an article, “New DoD Policy Office Studies ‘Strategic Shocks,’” in the March 6 issue, in which I was misquoted.

Contrary to what the reporter wrote, I never said or implied that “the U.S. military appears to be taking a page out of the Israeli counterterrorism book.” My description of Israeli operations was an illustrative example offered in answer to the reporter’s general question about how “locate and track” capabilities can be used. At no time did I suggest that the U.S. military was taking a page from the Israeli experience, or that it should.

U.S. military operations against terrorists are governed by a different set of objectives, legal framework and rules of engagement than Israeli intelligence operations against the intifada. I do not believe that Israeli tactics in the intifada are the correct basis for deriving best practices for the U.S. military in counterterrorism operations.

Michèle A. Flournoy, Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington

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