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National Defense Strategy 2008

through security cooperation, just as we will learn valuable skills and information from others better situated to understand some of the complex challenges we face together.

We must also work with longstanding friends and allies to transform their capabilities. Key to transformation is training, education and, where appropriate, the transfer of defense articles to build partner capacity. We must work to develop new ways of operating across the full spectrum of warfare. Our partnerships must be capable of applying military and non-military power when and where needed – a prerequisite against an adaptable transnational enemy.

Secure U.S. strategic access and retain freedom of action

For more than sixty years, the United States has secured the global commons for the benefit of all. Global prosperity is contingent on the free flow of ideas, goods, and services. The enormous growth in trade has lifted millions of people out of poverty by making locally produced goods available on the global market. Low barriers to trade also benefit consumers by reducing the cost of goods and allowing countries to specialize. None of this is possible without a basic belief that goods shipped through air or by sea, or information transmitted under the ocean or through space, will arrive at their destination safely. The development and proliferation of anti-access technologies and tactics threatens to undermine this belief.

The United States requires freedom of action in the global commons and strategic access to important regions of the world to meet our national security needs. The well-being of the global economy is contingent on ready access to energy resources. Notwithstanding national efforts to reduce dependence on oil, current trends indicate an increasing reliance on petroleum products from areas of instability in the coming years, not reduced reliance. The United States will continue to foster access to and flow of energy resources vital to the world economy. Further, the Department is examining its own energy demands and is taking action to reduce fuel demand where it will not negatively affect operational capability. Such efforts will reduce DoD fuel costs and assist wider U.S. Government energy security and environmental objectives.

We will continue to transform overseas U.S. military presence through global defense posture realignment, leveraging a more agile continental U.S. (CONUS)-based expeditionary total force and further developing a more relevant and flexible forward network of capabilities and arrangements with allies and partners to ensure strategic access.


Integrate and unify our efforts: A new “Jointness”

Our efforts require a unified approach to both planning and implementing policy. Iraq and Afghanistan remind us that military success alone is insufficient to achieve victory. We must not forget our hard-learned lessons or allow the important soft power capabilities developed because of them to atrophy or even disappear. Beyond security, essential ingredients of long-term success include economic development, institution building, and the rule of law, as well as promoting internal reconciliation, good governance, providing basic services to the people, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, strategic communications. We as a nation must strengthen not only our military capabilities, but also reinvigorate other important elements of national power and develop the capability to integrate, tailor, and apply these tools as needed. We must tap the full strength of America and its people.

The Department of Defense has taken on many of these burdens. Our forces have stepped up to the task of long-term reconstruction, development and governance. The U.S. Armed Forces will need to institutionalize and retain these capabilities, but this is no replacement for civilian involvement and expertise. The United States must improve its ability to deploy civilian expertise rapidly, and continue to increase effectiveness by joining with organizations and people outside of government – untapped resources with enormous potential. We can make better use of the expertise of our universities and of industry to assist in reconstruction and long-term improvements to economic vitality and good governance. Greater civilian participation is necessary both to make military operations successful and to relieve stress on the men and women of the armed forces. Having permanent civilian capabilities available and using them early could also make it less likely that military forces will need to be deployed in the first place.

We also need capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Strategic communications within the Department and across government is a good example. Although the United States invented modern public relations, we are unable to communicate to the world effectively who we are and what we stand for as a society and culture, about freedom and democracy, and about our goals and aspirations. This capability is and will be crucial not only for the Long War, but also for the consistency of our message on crucial security issues to our allies, adversaries, and the world.

We will continue to work with other U.S. Departments and Agencies, state and local governments, partners and allies, and international and multilateral organizations to achieve our objectives. A whole-of-government approach is only possible when every government department and agency understands the core competencies, roles, missions, and capabilities of its partners and works together


to achieve common goals. Examples such as expanding U.S. Southern Command’s interagency composition and the establishment of U.S. Africa Command will point the way. In addition, we will support efforts to coordinate national security planning more effectively, both within DoD and across other U.S. Departments and Agencies.

We will continue to work to improve understanding and harmonize best practices amongst interagency partners. This must happen at every level from Washington, DC-based headquarters to the field. DoD, in partnership with DHS, also will continue to develop habitual relationships with state and local authorities to ensure we are positioned to respond when necessary and support civil authorities in times of emergency, where allowable by law. Through these efforts we will significantly increase our collective abilities to defend the homeland.

We will further develop and refine our own capabilities. We should continue to develop innovative capabilities, concept, and organizations. We will continue to rely on adaptive planning, on integration and use of all government assets, and on flexibility and speed. Yet we must not only have a full spectrum of capabilities at our disposal, but also employ and tailor any or all of them to a complex environment. These developments will require an expanded understanding of “jointness,” one that seamlessly combines civil and military capabilities and options.

Finally, we must consider further realigning Department structures, and interagency planning and response efforts, to better address these risks and to meet new needs. We will examine how integrated planning is conducted within the Department, and how to make better use of our own existing capacities.

DoD Capabilities and Means

Implementation of any strategy is predicated on developing, maintaining and, where possible, expanding the means required to execute its objectives within budget constraints. Without the tools, we cannot do the job. The Department is well equipped for its primary missions, but it always seeks to improve and refine capabilities and effectiveness. The challenges before us will require resourcefulness and an integrated approach that wisely balances risks and assets, and that recognizes where we must improve, and where others are better suited to help implement aspects of the strategy.

The Department will continue to emphasize the areas identified in the 2006 QDR, specifically improvements in capabilities for defeating terrorist networks, defending the homeland in depth, shaping the choices of countries at strategic


crossroads, and preventing adversaries’ acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction. Although these capabilities are not sufficient to address all the missions of the Department, they require particular attention.

The Department’s greatest asset is the people who dedicate themselves to the mission. The Total Force distributes and balances skills across each of its constituent elements: the Active Component, the Reserve Component, the civilian workforce, and the private sector and contractor base. Each element relies on the other to accomplish the mission; none can act independently of the other to accomplish the mission. The force has been severely tasked between operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and fulfilling other missions and assignments. Although we are already committed to strengthening our forces, we also should seek to find more ways to retain and tap into the unique skills and experience of the thousands of veterans and others who have served and who can provide valuable contributions to national security. We will continue to pursue the improvements in the total force identified in the 2006 QDR and elsewhere, including the expansion of special operations forces and ground forces and developing modular, adaptable joint forces.

Strategic communications will play an increasingly important role in a unified approach to national security. DoD, in partnership with the Department of State, has begun to make strides in this area, and will continue to do so. However, we should recognize that this is a weakness across the U.S. Government, and that a coordinated effort must be made to improve the joint planning and implementation of strategic communications.

Intelligence and information sharing have always been a vital component of national security. Reliable information and analysis, quickly available, is an enduring challenge. As noted in the 2006 QDR, DoD is pursuing improved intelligence capabilities across the spectrum, such as defense human intelligence focused on identifying and penetrating terrorist networks and measurement and signature intelligence to identify WMD and delivery systems.

Technology and equipment are the tools of the Total Force, and we must give our people what they need, and the best resources, to get the job done. First-class technology means investing in the right kinds of technology at the right time. Just as our adversaries adapt and develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures, we too must be nimble and creative. One area of particular focus is developing the means to locate, tag and track WMD components. We also must continue to improve our acquisition and contracting regulations, procedures, and oversight to ensure agile and timely procurement of critical equipment and materials for our forces.


Organization also is a key to the DoD’s success, especially as it brings together disparate capabilities and skills to wield as a unified and overpowering force. Concepts such as “net-centricity” can help guide DoD, linking components of the Department together and connecting organizations with complementary core competencies, forging the Total Force into more than the sum of its parts. The goal is to break down barriers and transform industrial-era organizational structures into an information and knowledge-based enterprise. These concepts are not a panacea, and will require investments in people as much as in technology to realize the full potential of these initiatives.

Strengthening our burgeoning system of alliances and partnerships is essential to implementing our strategy. We have become more integrated with our allies and partners on the battlefield and elsewhere. Whether formal alliances such as NATO or newer partnerships such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, they have proved their resiliency and adaptability. These relationships continue to evolve, ensuring their relevance as new challenges emerge. Our partners provide resources, knowledge, skills, and capabilities we cannot duplicate.

Building these partnerships takes resources. DoD has worked with its interagency partners and Congress to expand the portfolio of security cooperation and partnership capacity building tools over the last seven years and will continue to do so. These tools are essential to successful implementation of the strategy. We will also work with Congress and other stakeholders to address our significant concern with growing legal and regulatory restrictions that impede, and threaten to undermine, our military readiness.

DoD will continue to implement global defense posture realignment, transforming from legacy base structures and forward-garrisoned forces to an expeditionary force, providing greater flexibility to contend with uncertainty in a changing strategic environment.

Managing Risk

Implementing the National Defense Strategy and its objectives requires balancing risks, and understanding the choices those risks imply. We cannot do everything, or function equally well across the spectrum of conflict. Ultimately we must make choices.

With limited resources, our strategy must address how we assess, mitigate, and respond to risk. Here we define risk in terms of the potential for damage to national security combined with the probability of occurrence and a measurement of the consequences should the underlying risk remain unaddressed. We must


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