The United States Army is at war. It is also transforming. There is nothing new about either situation. The Army mobilized, fought a war and transformed itself in the 1940s. However, that was sixty years ago. It is now being called on to do the same, and more. It must not only change its organizations, equipment and processes while fighting a war, it also must change the way it thinks. The Army must do these things in the context of being a member of a Joint Force, a concept only barely understood in the 1940s. It must do these things while enduring tight resource constraints.
For the Army, the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is about demonstrating that the measures it is taking to improve its effectiveness for operations across the spectrum of conflict are central to meeting the goals and objectives set out for the military in the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. The Army also needs to make it clear that its efforts to reset the current force, create a new modular structure, introduce new technologies, rebalance the Active and Reserve Components and stabilize units and the lives of its soldiers constitute an integrated plan. Change, eliminate or under-fund any part of the plan and the entire enterprise will be placed at risk.
The Army needs to make investments in the capabilities that will support its vision of a campaign-quality force that is expeditionary, flexible and joint – such as the Stryker and Future Combat System. It also means a range of C4ISR capabilities to enhance battle space knowledge and connectivity to the rest of the Joint Force. It includes the restructuring of Army aviation, which will result in more than 1,000 new platforms and new programs such as the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Light Utility Helicopter. Finally, it includes a new logistics system that will reduce in-theater footprint while simultaneously enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain.
The QDR process also needs to recognize and account for the Army’s growing dependence on joint capabilities. To make itself lighter and more expeditionary, the Army is reducing its organic fire support capabilities and will rely more on air and missile assets from the other Services. The Army is also dependent on the Air Force to provide air dominance, theater-level intelligence and adequate lift. The QDR must ensure that in its effort to balance risk it does not undermine the Army’s efforts to become a more effective part of the Joint Force.
Overshadowing the entire QDR process is the reality of limited resources. Past QDRs have avoided making hard choices that reflect both the demand for military capabilities and the size of defense budgets. It would be a mistake to “kick the can down the road” again.
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