Officials brief commissioners on BRAC strategy concerns

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • American Forces Press Service
Base Realignment and Closure commissioners heard about the strategic underpinnings of the Defense Department's approach during May 4 testimony.

Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, spoke to the panel about the national defense strategy, the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review and the global defense posture.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is using these strategies as the basis for closing and realigning defense installations. He must present his recommendations to the commissioners by May 16.

Mr. Henry told commissioners the most current DOD strategy contains lessons learned from the war on terrorism. The BRAC process requires that military value will be the most important criterion in closing or realigning bases.

Mr. Henry said he hoped his testimony would help commissioners understand "the way that we understand what best military value is, the way we want to use military activities and the way we want to employ the force to be able to provide for national security."

He said the old days of knowing the enemy are over. He told commissioners there is a limit to intelligence.

"We cannot tell what the future will bring," Mr. Henry said. "In the next decade, we will need to use our forces somewhere, but we cannot say with any certainty where, when or how they might be needed."

Developing capabilities, therefore, is more important than numbers of troops, tanks, ships or planes, he said.

Mr. Henry said the U.S. military must be able to move more quickly and operate with greater flexibility when it arrives in a region. He also said that a basis for the new strategy is the United States realizes it must do these operations in partnership with other nations. A big part of the effort, then, is to build the capacity and capabilities of others.

He said the national defense strategy remains to secure the U.S. from direct attack. He also said that it includes gaining strategic access to key areas and to have freedom of action within those areas.

Portions of the old strategy -- last published in 2001 -- are unchanged. This includes assuring friends the United States is a credible ally, dissuading those who harbor ambitions to confront the United States, and deterring potential adversaries.

Finally, if needed, the United States must be ready to "defeat any adversary at a time, place and manner of our choosing," Mr. Henry said.

He said the challenge of the Quadrennial Defense Review -- which will be published in February 2006 -- is to strike a balance between new capabilities the U.S. military would like to have against old capabilities that America would like to maintain.

He told BRAC commissioners their work will allow the U.S. to set its military house in order. Their mission will allow the military to better use American taxpayers money and let the military serve in a more joint environment, he said.

The global posture review also plays a role in the commission's processes. The U.S. military will bring back two Army divisions from Europe and most of one from South Korea. All told, this means 70,000 Soldiers and more than 100,000 family members and contractors will be returning to the United States. Where they will go depends in large part on the commissioners' decisions, Mr. Henry said.

"How we realign overseas will affect how we are based back home," he said.