Inside The Pentagon
by Elaine M. Grossman
August 18, 2005

[Reprinted by permission of Inside Washington Publishers. This article may not be reproduced or redistributed, in part or in whole, without express permission of the publisher. Copyright 2004, Inside Washington Publishers. For more information and exclusive news, go to: Every Tuesday and Thursday, visit the INSIDER,, free from Inside Washington Publishers.]

Initial quadrennial review decisions


Several of the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders met this week to make final refinements to a new outline for future military capabilities in the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, a wide-reaching congressionally mandated study due out early next year. In a Tuesday (Aug. 16) meeting, a coterie of political appointees and uniformed brass held a near-final discussion on a new “force-planning construct” that puts increased emphasis on defending against terrorist threats, according to Pentagon sources.

After months of internal deliberations, the emerging concept maintains a focus on three core missions: homeland defense, the global war on terrorism and conventional major warfare, defense officials confirmed in interviews this week. Inside the Pentagon first described the quadrennial review’s draft framework for sizing and shaping military forces in a June 23 story.

Underlying all three capability elements is the concept of “deterrence,” the objective of using force and diplomacy to prevent conflict, defense insiders say. But the nuances of what it takes to deter non-state terrorists, as compared to deterring an enemy nation, have yet to be fully explored, according to one review participant.

With some last-minute tweaks, the new construct is to replace one dubbed “1-4-2-1,” which emerged from the 2001 quadrennial review. Under that framework — developed prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and released shortly thereafter — the military has prepared to defend the U.S. homeland; project forces to deter conflict in four regions around the globe; swiftly defeat aggression in two overlapping major conflicts; and maintain a capability for “decisive victory” in one of the two major conflicts, possibly to include regime change or occupation.

Yet some Pentagon officials are already questioning whether the emerging 2005 force-planning mechanism differs significantly from the one it replaces.

For example, it is unclear whether the force plan will continue to require U.S. forces to maintain a capability to fight and win two overlapping major conflicts. Funding limitations may yet alter the timing, objectives or strategy for such wars, defense sources say.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has circulated charts on the new concept describing various kinds of operations for which the military must prepare, but has not yet clearly defined implications for the future size and shape of the military, according to these officials.

Thus the new construct, at least as it currently stands, could form the basis for any number of different outcomes for U.S. military forces, officials say.

What does appear to be emerging, defense sources say, is a future military that includes no significant reductions in Army or Marine Corps manpower, despite the expense traditionally associated with training and supporting military personnel (see related story).

Though the new force-planning construct appears, as yet, to be unnamed, some Pentagon officials have nicknamed it “the Michelin man.” A Pentagon slide illustration of its core elements depicts three stacked circles, resembling the cartoon figure featured in tire advertisements, sources say. The areas in which the circles overlap are marked “deterrence,” according to defense officials participating in the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Still missing from the mix of responsibilities for which the military must prepare is a coherent approach to stability and reconstruction operations — the very missions the Pentagon has been widely criticized for underestimating in the run-up to the Iraq war and which have since taken a heavy toll on the troops, several defense officials note.

Longstanding security and reconstruction missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be “the tail not only wagging the dog but beating the dog,” says one.

Another key question is whether the Pentagon can maintain sufficient “enabler” forces to get troops where they need to go and provide them with adequate supplies like food, water, armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition and spare parts, officials say.

A big factor in that equation is the Pentagon’s “mobility” force — Air Force cargo jets and Navy sealift ships, the focus of a largely complete but still-secret Mobility Capabilities Study. Maintaining or replacing an aging fleet of aerial refueling aircraft is another piece of the logistics puzzle.

“At the end of the day, you need to do some tests of what you can realistically do” in terms of sustaining simultaneous military operations around the globe, says one Pentagon official.

The new developments follow several weeks in which some service leaders — reportedly including senior civilian and military officials from the Army, Air Force and Navy — have appealed to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to put the soup-to-nuts review on a more disciplined and productive track, according to a number of Pentagon sources. Using a process organized around six “integrated product teams” and three dozen “working groups,” Rumsfeld’s top lieutenants sponsored a number of “roundtable” discussions that raised more issues and questions than could be resolved during the review, officials have complained (ITP, June 2, p1).

Issues under review proliferated to several dozen before being gradually trimmed down by Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who began overseeing the review in May after Paul Wolfowitz departed the Pentagon.

Over the past two weeks, England has further pared the review’s focus to three integrating studies on air, land and sea capabilities, according to Pentagon officials. By the end of last week, he added a fourth study on integrated joint special operations capabilities, sources said.

Since May, “what we’ve experienced is a lot of repackaging,” says one defense official.

Draft directives — called “terms of reference” — for the wide-ranging studies are circulating in the Pentagon, naming as lead the respective service or command that dominates each realm, according to these officials. Specifically, the Navy will direct the maritime study, the Air Force will lead on air capabilities, the Army will oversee the look into ground requirements, and U.S. Special Operations Command will focus on its nonconventional domain.

Some quadrennial review participants say the new studies truly have their work cut out for them in attempting to reconcile myriad reports from the integrated product teams, or “IPTs,” with the emerging force- planning construct.

“One reason for setting up these four integrating studies is that the IPTs seemed to be going nowhere,” says one defense source. “Some would argue the IPTs are sliding into the background.”

But others question whether asking the services to recommend their own future force profiles might simply prompt uniformed leaders to dig in their heels on opposing cuts to organizational structure or acquisition programs. The services can be expected to resist substantial changes to their existing budget plans, many defense officials and observers say.

The four new integrating studies may be “a way to give [the services] something to expend their energy on,” allowing Rumsfeld some breathing room to arrive at top-down directives, says one Pentagon official.

Rumsfeld and his deputies would “like to make decisions but the services don’t want them to make decisions.”

A “Key West”-type summit of Pentagon bigwigs on a major overhaul of service responsibilities — earlier anticipated for July — never occurred and the idea has since been scrapped, defense officials tell ITP.

The meeting initially was billed as one that might result in enormous changes to the division of labor between the military services — revisiting roles and missions codified in the National Security Act of
1947 and the 1948 Key West Agreement. ITP reported June 16 that Rumsfeld’s advisers had quietly concluded the groundwork for such enormous change had not yet been laid.

The next major milestone in the quadrennial review will be an Oct. 5 top-level decision on desired force capabilities for the future, which will then be fed into the fiscal year 2007 defense budget-writing process, according to Pentagon sources. The president’s FY-07 budget request will be delivered to Capitol Hill next February along with the quadrennial review results.

Meanwhile, Rumsfeld’s review team has thrown new cloaks of secrecy over the entire effort, Pentagon officials report. The invitation list for a new series of integrating roundtable discussions has become increasingly exclusive, sources say. Slides are distributed a scant 15 minutes before meeting time on paper rather than circulated electronically, ostensibly to reduce the number of those in-the-know. Even the format of the briefing papers has changed, with six slides featured per page, making them somewhat difficult to decipher, according to those familiar with the process.

This week’s meeting was the first in a series of such powwows to be co- chaired by England and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, the latter newly replacing Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace. The sessions also include defense under secretaries, the senior leader of each IPT, and each service vice chief of staff plus one other senior service officer, according to officials.

The latest confab comes in the wake of other high-level personnel shifts at the Pentagon, in addition to the moves up the ladder by England and Giambastiani. Recently Adm. Michael Mullen became chief of naval operations and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman replaced Douglas Feith in a recess appointment by the White House. Kenneth Krieg became the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics in June.

Other shifts in chairs at the decision table are expected to include Gen. T. Michael Moseley as incoming Air Force chief of staff and Pace as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

The net sum is “a whole new lineup of people who not only disagree on what needs to be done but how it should be done,” says one Pentagon official. “That has caused no small amount of trembling.”

—Elaine M. Grossman

Grossman Archive

Return to Home