protect against and respond to the use of WMD when necessary. The Administration has significantly increased funding to enhance biological and chemical defense capabilities and has begun the vaccination of military personnel against the anthrax bacteria, the most feared biological weapon threat today. These efforts reinforce our deterrent posture and complement our nonproliferation efforts by reducing the political and military value of WMD and their means of delivery.
We are enhancing our ability to defend against hostile information operations, which could in the future take the form of a full-scale, strategic information attack against our critical national infrastructures, government and economy—as well as attacks directed against our military forces. As other countries develop their capability to conduct offensive information operations, we must ensure that our national and defense information infrastructures are well protected and that we can quickly recognize, defend against and respond decisively to an information attack.
Third, our military must also be able to transition to fighting major theater wars from a posture of global engagement—from substantial levels of peacetime engagement overseas as well as multiple concurrent smaller-scale contingencies. Withdrawing from such operations would pose significant political and operational challenges. Ultimately, however, the United States must accept a degree of risk associated with withdrawing from contingency operations and engagement activities in order to reduce the greater risk incurred if we failed to respond adequately to major theater wars.
Our priority is to shape effectively the international environment so as to deter the onset of major theater wars. Should deterrence fail, however, the United States will defend itself, its allies and partners with all means necessary.
Preparing Now for an Uncertain Future
We must prepare for an uncertain future even as we address today’s security problems. This requires that we keep our forces ready for shaping and responding requirements in the near term, while at the same time evolving our unparalleled capabilities to ensure we can effectively shape and respond in the future.
The 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) struck a fine balance between near-term readiness, long-term modernization and quality of life improvements for our men and women in uniform. A key element of this balance was our decision to increase funding for modernization to protect long-term readiness. In this context we decided to make modest reductions in personnel, primarily in support positions, across the force structure. But in all these decisions we ensured that the high readiness levels of our forward-deployed and “first-to-fight” forces were maintained. While preparing for the challenges of the next century, the readiness of today’s force remains one of our highest priorities. That is why the Administration, in partnership with the Congress, will continue to assure we maintain the best-trained, best-equipped and best-led military force in the world for the 21st Century.
Government-wide, we will continue to foster innovative approaches, capabilities, technologies and organizational structures to better protect American lives, property and interests at home and abroad. In our defense efforts, we will continue to explore new approaches for integrating the Active and Reserve components into a Total Force optimum for future missions, modernize our forces, ensure the quality of military personnel, and take prudent steps to position ourselves to effectively counter unlikely but significant future threats. We will also continue our rapidly growing efforts to integrate and improve the capability of Federal, state and local agencies—and our private sector partners—to protect against and respond to transnational threats at home.
The military challenges of the 21st century, coupled with the aging of key elements of the U.S. force structure, require a fundamental transformation of our military forces. Although future threats are fluid and unpredictable, U.S. forces are likely to confront a variety of challenges across the spectrum of conflict, including efforts to deny our forces access to critical regions, urban warfare, information warfare, and attacks from chemical and biological weapons. To meet these challenges, we must transform our forces by exploiting the Revolution in Military Affairs. Improved intelligence collection and assessment coupled with modern information processing, navigation and command and control capabilities are at the heart of the transformation of our warfighting capabilities. Through a carefully planned and focused modernization program, we can maintain our technological superiority and replace Cold War-era equipment with new systems capable of taking full advantage of emerging technologies. With these advanced systems, the U.S. military will be able to respond rapidly to any contingency, dominate the battlespace and conduct day-to-day operations much more efficiently and effectively.
To support this transformation of our military forces, we will work cooperatively with the Congress to enact legislation to implement the Defense Reform Initiative, which will free up resources through a Revolution in Business Affairs. This revolution includes privatization, acquisition reform and elimination of excess infrastructure through two additional base realignment and closure (BRAC) rounds in 2001 and 2005. The Revolution in Military Affairs and the Revolution in Business Affairs are interlocking revolutions: With both, and only with both, we will ensure that U.S. forces continue to have unchallenged superiority in the 21st century.
It is critical that we renew our commitment to America’s diplomacy—to ensure we have the diplomatic representation required to support our global interests. This is central to our ability to remain an influential voice on international issues that affect our well-being. We will preserve that influence so long as we retain the diplomatic capabilities, military wherewithal and economic base to underwrite our commitments credibly.
We must continue aggressive efforts to construct appropriate twenty-first century national security programs and structures. The Defense Department, State Department and other international affairs agencies are similarly reorganizing to confront the pressing challenges of tomorrow as well as those we face today. Federal, state and local law enforcement and emergency response agencies are enhancing their ability to deal with terrorist threats. Government and industry are exploring ways to protect critical national infrastructures. We will continue looking across our government to see if during this time of transition we are adequately preparing to meet the national security challenges of the next century.
Without preparing today to face the pressing challenges of tomorrow, our ability to exert global leadership and to create international conditions conducive to achieving our national goals would be in doubt. Thus, we must strive to strike the right balance between the near-term readiness requirements of shaping and responding and the longer-term transformation requirements associated with preparing now for national security challenges in the twenty-first century.
Certain capabilities and technologies are critical to protecting the United States itself and to the worldwide application of U.S. national power for shaping the international environment and responding to the full spectrum of threats and crises.