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US Unveils Strategy For 'Long War' On Terror

Drafted as the United States fights the "war on terror" it declared after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the review reflects the Pentagon's view that future challenges are more likely to spring from adversaries like Al-Qaeda than conventionally armed nations.
by Jim Mannion
Washington (AFP) Feb 03, 2006
The US Defense Department on Friday unveiled a new strategy to beef up US special operations forces for a "long war" on terrorism and develop new ways to combat weapons of mass destruction.

The four-year strategy review also called for the development of more conventional high-tech weapons -- from long-range strike weapons to unmannned drones -- as a hedge against "strategic uncertainty."

Drafted as the United States fights the "war on terror" it declared after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the review reflects the Pentagon's view that future challenges are more likely to spring from adversaries like Al-Qaeda than conventionally armed nations.

"This war requires the US military to adopt unconventional and indirect approaches," the so-called Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) said.

"Currently, Iraq and Afghanistan are crucial battlegrounds, but the struggle extends far beyond their borders," it said.

"With its allies and partners, the United States must be prepared to wage this war in many locations simultaneously for some years to come."

However, the review called for no overall increases in the size of the ground forces, no cuts in large weapons programs and no major change in the way the US military structures its forces.

"This is not a new beginning and not a culmination of transformation," said Ryan Henry, the Pentagon official who coordinated the review.

Instead, he said, "it is a snapshot in time along a continuum of transformation and one that's been reinforced by operational experience."

The US military will still be sized to fight two major military campaigns near simultaneously, and to win one decisively by toppling an enemy regime.

But it now must be prepared to fight a protracted irregular war like the one in Iraq, as well as another major military campaign near simultaneously.

The QDR sets out four broad priorities: defeating terrorist networks, defending the United States, shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads, and combatting the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

The report singled out China, Russia and India as among the "countries at a strategic crossroads."

Henry said the United States wants to be a partner in China's peaceful rise but also have the means to dissuade it from making the wrong choices.

"We think China should have a military capability sufficent to meet its genuine security needs," Henry said. "How that is translated depends on what sort of country (it becomes) and how China is going to be contributing to world stability."

The 2007 defense budget being submitted on Monday will include some funding requests inspired by the review.

They include a 15 percent increase in the size of the Special Operations Force, which now number about 53,000.

Army Special Forces battalions will be increased by one-third, and the US Marine Corps will establish a special operations command for the first time, the report said.

The Air Force will establish an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron under the US Special Operations Command, and the navy will beef up its SEAL command teams and develop new fighting capabilities.

The command's psychological operations and civil affairs units will be increased by 3,700 persons, or 33 percent, it said.

The review said the Defense Department will "greatly expand its capabilities and forces" for contingencies involving weapons of mass destruction.

The US Strategic Command was given the task of setting up a rapidly deployable joint-task force headquarters "for WMD elimination to be able to provide immediate command and control of forces for executing those missions," it said.

The Defense Department will invest 1.5 billion dollars over the next five years to develop medical counter-measures against the threat of genetically engineered bio-terror agents, the report said.

The Pentagon also intends to develop a wider range of conventional "deterrent options" while "maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent," the report said.

A small number of Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles will be converted for use in a "conventional prompt global strike," it said.

"It will also begin development of the next-generation, long-range strike systems, accelerating projected initial operational capacity by almost two decades," the report said.

The Pentagon will acquire more unmanned aerial vehicles to nearly double its existing capacity to conduct airborne surveillance.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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