Overseas realignment proceeding in 'deliberate, thoughtful' manner

  • Published
  • By Donna Miles
  • American Forces Press Service
The Defense Department is moving forward with plans to reshape its force structure overseas through close coordination with Congress, other government agencies and U.S. allies and partners, defense officials said May 9.

The global defense posture review is being undertaken as a "deliberate, thoughtful and flexible" process that meets 21st-century threats and improves troops' quality of life, said Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

Mr. Henry joined Ray DuBois, acting undersecretary of the Army, in countering charges by the Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure of the United States that DOD is moving ahead too quickly and without sufficient coordination. The independent commission released its findings May 9.

DOD welcomes the commission's support for the global posture realignment, announced in August by President Bush, Mr. Henry said. The plan calls for returning up to 70,000 troops and 100,000 family members and civilian employees currently based overseas to the United States.

"We believe the commission's report reflects an earnest effort to assess the military facility structures of the United States overseas," Mr. Henry said. "It recognizes that our overseas presence must reflect the challenges we face in the 21st century."

In announcing the initiative, President Bush said the U.S. force structure overseas reflects Cold War threats, not those that exist today.

Basing more troops in the United States and taking advantage of new technologies to quickly deploy them and their increased combat power will result in "a more agile and flexible force," the president said.

Mr. Henry re-emphasized the need for flexibility of U.S. forces and disputed the commission's assertion that global posturing needs to reflect concrete threats.

"We live in a world of uncertainty," he said. "We can predict with a certain degree of certainty that in the coming years we will need to use our military forces. ... What we cannot predict is where, when or in what manner we may need to use those forces."

Returning heavier forces as well as administrative and support functions to the United States will help increase the flexibility of the U.S. armed forces and their ability to respond quickly as necessary, he said.

Plans for what has been called the most significant rethinking of U.S. overseas military posture in more than 50 years have been coordinated "every step of the way," Mr. Henry said. They reflect input from regional combatant commanders, interagency partners, Congress, U.S. ambassadors and U.S. allies and partners, he said.

At the same time, the process is being conducted in a way that dovetails with several other initiatives under way: The department's Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations that will be released by May 16, a mobility capabilities review expected this summer, and the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Coordinating these efforts will prevent gaps in military capabilities as well as infrastructure and quality-of-life programs for troops and their families, Mr. DuBois said.

"It's a complex set of moves, and they are all interrelated," he said.

Throughout the planning, quality-of-life programs have remained a top priority, Mr. Henry said.

"We in DOD realize that the No. 1 resource we have in the department are the fighting men and women ... and their families who support them," he said. "They are the one asset that we want to make sure we optimize."