[Top] [Bottom] [Previous] [Next] [Table of Contents]

Chapter 1


Since the founding of the Republic, the United States has embraced three fundamental and enduring goals: to maintain the sovereignty, political freedom, and independence of the United States, with its values, institutions, and territory intact; to protect the lives and personal safety of Americans, both at home and abroad; and to promote the well–being and prosperity of the nation and its people.

Achieving these basic goals requires fostering an international environment in which:

· Critical regions are stable, at peace, and free from domination by hostile powers.

· The global economy and free trade are growing.

· Democratic norms and respect for human rights are widely accepted.

· The spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) and other potentially destabilizing weapons technologies is minimized.

· The international community is willing and able to prevent and, if necessary, respond to calamitous events.

The United States plays a leadership role in the international community, working closely and cooperatively with nations that share its values and goals, and influencing those that can affect U.S. national well–being.


As the 21st century begins, the United States faces a dynamic and uncertain security environment. There is much that is positive about this environment. The threat of global war remains distant and the nation’s core values of representative democracy and market economics are embraced in many parts of the world, creating new opportunities to promote peace, prosperity, and enhanced cooperation among nations. The U.S. economy continues to thrive. Relationships with key allies, such as NATO partners, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and others, are strong and continuing to adapt successfully to meet today’s challenges. Former adversaries, like Russia and other former members of the Warsaw Pact, now cooperate with the United States across a range of security issues. Many in the world see the United States as the security partner of choice.

Current Security Challenges

Despite these positive developments in the international environment, the world remains a complex, dynamic, and dangerous place. While there is great uncertainty about how the security environment will evolve, the United States will face significant security challenges in the coming years. Precisely when and where these will occur is impossible to predict, but the nature of the challenges falls into several broad categories.

Cross–Border Aggression. Some states will continue to threaten the territorial sovereignty of others in regions critical to U.S. interests. In Southwest Asia, Iraq continues to pose a threat to its neighbors and to the free flow of oil from the region. In East Asia, North Korea still poses a highly unpredictable threat in spite of its dire economic and humanitarian conditions. Other states could be aggressors as well. In East Asia, for example, sovereignty issues and several territorial disputes remain potential sources of conflict. Many instances of cross–border aggression will be small–scale in nature; but between now and 2015, it is entirely possible that more than one aspiring regional power will have both the motivation and the means to pose a military threat to U.S. interests.

Internal Conflict. Political violence other than cross–border aggression can also threaten U.S. interests. This includes civil wars, internal aggression (e.g., by a state against its own people or by one ethnic group against another), armed uprisings, and civil disturbances. These events can threaten U.S. interests because they may spread beyond the parties initially involved, incur intervention by outside powers, affect U.S. economic interests, or put at risk the safety and well–being of American citizens in the region. Even when important U.S. interests are not threatened, the United States may have a humanitarian interest in protecting the safety, well–being, and freedom of the people affected.

Development and Proliferation of Dangerous Military Technologies. The development and proliferation of advanced weapons and technologies with military or terrorist uses, including NBC weapons and their means of delivery, will continue despite the best efforts of the international community. The proliferation of these weapons and technologies could directly threaten the United States, destabilize other regions of critical importance, and increase the number of potential adversaries with significant military capabilities, including smaller states and parties hostile to the United States. The increasing spread of military technologies also raises the potential for countermeasures to U.S. capabilities, as adversaries could attempt to use these weapons and technologies to neutralize the United States’ current overwhelming advantage in conventional military capability.

Of particular concern is the growing threat of a ballistic missile attack on the United States. The threat of missile attack, which was once thought to be remote, is growing significantly as countries such as North Korea and Iran seek to develop and export long–range ballistic missile capabilities. Moreover, the possibility of an accidental or unauthorized launch from Russia or China remains a real, albeit less likely, concern.

Transnational Threats. The range of actors that can affect U.S. security and the stability of the broader international community will likely grow in number and capability. Increasingly capable and violent terrorists, for example, will directly threaten the lives of American citizens and their institutions and will seek to undermine U.S. policies and alliances. Terrorist attacks will be directed not only against U.S. citizens and allies abroad but also against U.S. territory and critical infrastructure. The means employed by terrorists could include conventional attacks, information warfare, or even NBC weapons. These attacks will be orchestrated independently or with state backing (potentially in response to conventional conflict with the United States elsewhere in the world) and will be increasingly sophisticated in targeting, propaganda, and political operations. In addition, the illegal drug trade, international organized crime, piracy, and activities aimed at denying U.S. access to vital energy supplies and key strategic resources will serve to undermine the legitimacy of friendly governments, disrupt key regions and sea lanes, and threaten the safety and well–being of U.S. citizens at home and abroad.

Humanitarian Disasters. Humanitarian crises can also affect U.S. interests. Failed states, famines, floods, hurricanes, and other natural or man–made disasters will continue to occur, at times requiring the unique capabilities of U.S. military forces to provide stability, disaster relief, and other forms of emergency assistance.

Potential Security Challenges

In addition to current security challenges, other serious challenges could emerge in the future.

A Global Peer Competitor. The United States faces no global rival today, nor will it likely face one through at least 2015. In the period beyond 2015, however, there is the possibility that a regional great power or global peer competitor could emerge. China and Russia appear to have the most potential to be such competitors, though their respective futures are quite uncertain. China’s economy has been growing rapidly, and the People’s Liberation Army continues to modernize and increase its capability. China already has a strategic nuclear arsenal that, while not large, can reach the continental United States. China is likely to continue to face a number of internal challenges, however, both economic and political, that may slow the pace of its military modernization.

Russia could, in the coming years, reestablish its capability to project large–scale offensive military forces along its periphery, but this would require substantial preparation that would be visible to the United States. While Russia continues to retain a large nuclear arsenal with both tactical and strategic weapons, its conventional military capabilities—both in terms of power projection and combat sustainability—have weakened significantly. Russia’s future will depend in large measure on its ability to develop its economy, which in turn is dependent upon a stable internal political environment. Should Russia’s political system fail to stabilize over the long term, disintegration of Russia as a coherent state could pose major security challenges for the United States and the international community.

Wild Card Scenarios. In addition to security challenges that the Department projects as likely is the possibility for unpredictable wild card scenarios that could seriously challenge U.S. interests at home and abroad. Such scenarios range from the unanticipated emergence of new technological threats, to the loss of U.S. access to critical facilities and lines of communication in key regions, to the takeover of friendly regimes by hostile parties. While the probability of any given wild card scenario is low, the probability that at least one will occur is much higher, with consequences that could be disproportionately high. Therefore, the United States must maintain military capabilities with sufficient flexibility to deal with such unexpected events.

The Imperative of Engagement

Finally, it is important to note that this projection of the security environment rests on two fundamental assumptions: that the United States will remain politically and militarily engaged in the world over the next 15 to 20 years, and that it will maintain its capability as a world–class military power. If the United States were to withdraw from its international commitments, relinquish its diplomatic leadership, or forfeit its military preeminence, the world would become an even more dangerous place, and the threats to the United States, its allies, friends, and interests would be even more severe.


To meet the challenges and opportunities presented by this security environment, the Administration has developed a National Security Strategy in accordance with U.S. global interests. The United States will remain engaged abroad, supporting efforts to enlarge the community of secure, free–market, and democratic nations and to create new partners in peace and prosperity. While the United States will retain the capability to act unilaterally when necessary, this strategy emphasizes coalition operations to secure basic U.S. national goals, protect and promote U.S. interests, and create preferred international conditions. Indeed, the nature of the challenges the nation faces demands cooperative, multinational approaches that distribute the burden of responsibility among like–minded states. For example, to effectively curb the proliferation of NBC weapons, the United States must garner the cooperation of other nations that share U.S. nonproliferation goals, as well as key suppliers and transshipment states. Therefore, it is imperative that the United States strives to build close, cooperative relations with the world’s most influential countries.

Maintaining a strong military and the willingness to use it in defense of national interests remain essential to a strategy of engagement. Today, the United States has unparalleled military capabilities. As the only nation in the world able to organize, lead, and conduct large–scale, effective, joint military operations far beyond its borders, the United States is in a unique position. Only the United States can organize effective military responses to large–scale regional threats. This ability is the cornerstone of many mutually beneficial alliances and security partnerships and the foundation of stability in key regions of the world. To sustain this position of leadership, the United States must maintain ready and versatile forces capable of conducting a wide range of military activities and operations—from deterring and defeating large–scale, cross–border aggression, to participating in smaller–scale contingencies (SSCs), to dealing with transnational threats like terrorism.

Nevertheless, both U.S. national interests and limited resources argue for the selective use of U.S. forces. Decisions about whether and when to use military forces should be guided, first and foremost, by the U.S. national interests at stake—be they vital, important, or humanitarian in nature—and by whether the costs and risks of a particular military involvement are commensurate with those interests. When the interests at stake are vital—that is, they are of broad, overriding importance to the survival, security, and vitality of the nation—the United States will do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power. U.S. vital national interests include:

· Protecting the sovereignty, territory, and population of the United States.

· Preventing the emergence of hostile regional coalitions or hegemons.

· Ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.

· Deterring and, if necessary, defeating aggression against U.S. allies and friends.

· Ensuring freedom of the seas, airways, and space, as well as the security of vital lines of communication.

In other cases, the interests at stake may be important but not vital—that is, they do not affect the nation’s survival but do significantly affect the national well–being and the character of the world in which Americans live. In these cases, military forces will be used only if they advance U.S. interests, are likely to accomplish their objectives, and other means are inadequate to accomplish U.S. goals. Such uses of the military will be both selective and limited, reflecting the relative saliency of the U.S. interests involved.

When the interests at stake are primarily humanitarian in nature, the decision to commit U.S. military forces will depend on the magnitude of the suffering, the ability of U.S. military forces to alleviate this suffering, and the expected cost to the United States both in terms of American lives and materiel, and in terms of limitations on the United States’ ability to respond to other crises. Military forces will be committed only if other means have been exhausted or are judged inadequate.

In all cases where the commitment of U.S. forces is considered, determining whether the associated costs and risks are commensurate with the U.S. interests at stake is central. Such decisions also require identification of a clear mission, the desired end state of the situation, and a strategy for withdrawal once goals are achieved.


To support the imperative of engagement set forth in the National Security Strategy, the Department of Defense laid out the national defense strategy and resultant defense program in the 1997 Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The QDR harnesses U.S. leadership to promote the nation’s interests throughout the 1997–2015 period. The strategy directs the Defense Department to help shape the international security environment in ways favorable to U.S. interests, respond to the full spectrum of crises when directed, and prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. These three elements—shaping, responding, and preparing—define the essence of U.S. defense strategy between now and 2015.

Shaping the International Environment

In addition to other instruments of national power, such as diplomacy and economic trade and investment, the Department of Defense plays an essential role in shaping the international security environment in ways that promote and protect U.S. national interests. The Department employs a wide variety of means to carry out shaping activities including:

· Forces permanently stationed abroad.

· Forces rotationally deployed overseas.

· Forces deployed temporarily for exercises, combined training, or military–to–military interactions.

· Programs such as defense cooperation, security assistance (e.g., the International Military Education and Training and Foreign Military Sales programs), and international arms cooperation.

· Regional academic centers (of which there are currently four: the Marshall Center, Asia Pacific Center, Center for Hemispheric Studies, and African Center for Strategic Studies) that provide training in Western concepts of civilian control of the military, conflict resolution, and sound defense resource management for foreign military and civilian officials.

Relatively small and timely investments in such activities can yield disproportionate benefits in terms of limiting or preventing crises, often mitigating the need for a more substantial and costly U.S. response later.

These activities shape the international security environment in three main ways.

Promoting Regional Stability. The Department of Defense promotes regional stability by facilitating regional cooperation, supporting democratization, and enhancing transparency with potential adversaries.

Facilitating Regional Cooperation. The U.S. military can play a significant role in promoting stability by facilitating cooperation between potential regional rivals. Participation in multilateral alliances with the United States, for example, requires potential rivals to cooperate with each other at a number of military and political levels, contributing to mutual transparency, trust, and confidence–building. Even when potential rivals are not part of a multilateral security arrangement, the United States can make use of its bilateral security relationships with them to encourage cooperation, act as an honest broker, and reassure them about each other’s intentions. Similarly, enhanced interoperability also contributes to achieving transparency and building trust and confidence.

Supporting Democratization. Military contacts with non–democratic or newly democratic countries promote democratization. These contacts demonstrate U.S. interest in the democratization process in those countries and help facilitate the development of democratic civil and military institutions—both through formal education and training exchanges, and simply through the example that the United States military provides of professional armed forces under civilian control.

Enhancing Transparency with Potential Adversaries. Military contacts with potential adversaries can help shape the security environment in two ways: they can increase mutual understanding about each other’s national defense organizations and decision making processes, decreasing the likelihood of hostility or confrontation based on misperception; they can also heighten potential adversaries’ appreciation for U.S. military capabilities and professionalism, reinforcing for them the costs of military adventurism.

Preventing or Reducing Conflicts and Other Threats. The Department of Defense prevents conflicts and other threats by limiting the prevalence of dangerous military technologies, combating transnational threats, and providing security reassurance.

Limiting the Prevalence of Dangerous Military Technologies. DoD limits the prevalence of dangerous military technologies both through efforts to actually reduce or eliminate NBC capabilities—as is being done with the U.S.–North Korean Agreed Framework; the Cooperative Threat Reduction program with Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan; and the Chemical Weapons Convention—and through activities to prevent the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery, as is being done by DoD efforts to monitor and support agreements like the Nuclear Non–Proliferation Treaty and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Combating Transnational Threats. DoD combats transnational threats through its activities to prevent terrorism and reduce U.S. vulnerability to terrorist acts and to reduce the production and flow to the United States of illegal drugs. Such activities include efforts to enhance intelligence collection capabilities, protect critical infrastructure (including combating cyber–terrorism), and support joint interagency counterdrug task forces operating overseas and in international air and sea space contiguous to U.S. borders.

Providing Security Reassurance. The presence of U.S. military forces overseas, including the preventive deployment of U.S. military personnel where appropriate, reassures countries and peoples that the United States is committed to peace and security in that region, reducing the likelihood of conflict by alleviating mutual security concerns and lowering tensions.

Deterring Aggression and Coercion. A vital aspect of the military’s role in shaping the international security environment is deterring aggression and coercion in key regions of the world on a day–to–day basis. The United States’ ability to deter potential adversaries in peacetime rests on several factors:

· A declaratory policy and overseas presence that effectively communicate U.S. security interests and commitments throughout the world.

· A demonstrated will to uphold U.S. security commitments when and where they are challenged.

· Conventional warfighting capabilities that are credible across the full spectrum of military operations and are rapidly deployable overseas.

· A demonstrated ability to form and lead effective military coalitions.

The U.S. nuclear posture also contributes substantially to the ability to deter aggression against the United States, its forces abroad, and its allies and friends. Although the prominence of nuclear weapons in the nation’s defense has diminished since the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons remain important as one of a range of responses available to deal with threats or use of NBC weapons against U.S. interests. They also serve as a hedge against the uncertain futures of existing nuclear powers and as a means of upholding U.S. security commitments to U.S. allies. In this regard, U.S. nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance, and permit widespread European participation in all aspects of the Alliance’s nuclear role. Thus, for the foreseeable future, the United States will retain a robust triad of sufficient nuclear forces—based on flexible and survivable strategic systems—under highly confident, constitutional command and control which safeguards against accidental and unauthorized use. The Department believes these goals can be achieved at lower force levels and continues to take the lead in exploring new arms reduction opportunities. The United States is poised to begin mutual early deactivation of systems which will be eliminated under START II once the Russian government ratifies the treaty, and to begin negotiating further reductions in a START III context as called for by the 1997 Helsinki Joint Statement.

Responding to the Full Spectrum of Crises

Despite the Department’s best efforts to shape the international security environment, the U.S. military will, at times, be called upon to respond to crises in order to protect national interests, demonstrate U.S. resolve, and reaffirm the nation’s role as a global leader. Therefore, U.S. forces must also be able to execute the full spectrum of military operations, from deterring an adversary’s aggression or coercion in crisis and conducting concurrent smaller–scale contingency operations, to fighting and winning major theater wars. They must be capable of doing so either unilaterally or as part of a coalition.

Deterring Aggression and Coercion In Crisis. In many cases, the first stage of responding to a crisis consists of efforts to deter an adversary so that the situation does not require a greater response. Deterrence in a crisis generally involves signaling the United States’ commitment to a particular country or expressing its national interest by enhancing U.S. warfighting capability in the region. The United States’ ability to respond rapidly and substantially as a crisis develops can have a significant deterrent effect. The readiness levels of deployable forces may be increased, forces deployed in the area may be moved closer to the crisis, and forces from the United States may be rapidly deployed to the area. The United States may also choose to make additional declaratory statements to communicate its intentions and the costs of aggression or coercion to an adversary. In some cases, the nation may choose to employ U.S. forces in a limited manner (e.g., to enforce sanctions or conduct limited strikes) to underline this message and deter further adventurism.

Conducting Smaller–Scale Contingency Operations. In general, the United States, along with others in the international community, will seek to prevent and contain localized conflicts and crises before they require a military response. However, if such efforts do not succeed, swift intervention by military forces may be the best way to contain, resolve, or mitigate the consequences of a conflict that could otherwise become far more costly and deadly. These operations encompass the full range of joint/combined military operations beyond peacetime engagement activities but short of major theater warfare. They include show–of–force operations, coercive campaigns, limited strikes, noncombatant evacuation operations, no–fly zone enforcement, maritime sanctions enforcement, migrant operations, counterterrorism operations, peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and emergency operations overseas in support of other U.S. government agencies.

Selective participation in SSC operations can serve a variety of U.S. interests. For example, U.S. forces are sometimes called upon to conduct noncombatant evacuations, protecting U.S. citizens caught in harm’s way. The United States might also choose to deploy forces to an intervention or peacekeeping operation in order to support democracy where it is threatened or to restore stability in a critical region. In addition, when rogue states defy the community of nations and threaten common interests, the United States may use its military capabilities—for instance, through maritime sanctions enforcement or limited strikes—to help enforce the international community’s will and deter further coercion. And when natural disaster strikes at home or abroad, U.S. values and interests might call for the use of the unique capabilities of military forces to jump–start relief efforts, enabling other elements of the U.S. government or international community to carry out longer–term relief efforts.

Based on recent experience and intelligence projections, the demand for SSC operations is expected to remain high over the next 15 to 20 years. U.S. participation in SSC operations will be selective, depending largely on the interests at stake and the risk of major aggression elsewhere. However, these operations will likely continue to pose the most frequent challenge for U.S. forces through 2015 and may require significant commitments of both active and reserve forces.

Fighting and Winning Major Theater Wars. At the high end of the continuum of possible crises is fighting and winning major theater wars. This mission is the most demanding requirement for the U.S. military. In order to protect American interests around the globe, U.S. forces must continue to be able to overmatch the military power of regional states with interests hostile to the United States. Such states are often capable of fielding sizable military forces that can cause serious imbalances in military power within regions important to the United States. The power of potentially aggressive states often exceeds that of U.S. allies and friends in the region. To deter aggression, prevent coercion of allied or friendly governments, and defeat aggression should it occur, the Department must prepare U.S. forces to confront this scale of threat far from home, in concert with allies and friends, but unilaterally if necessary. Toward this end, the United States must have jointly trained and interoperable forces that can deploy quickly from a posture of global engagement—across great distances to supplement forward–stationed and forward–deployed U.S. forces—to assist a threatened nation or ally, rapidly stop enemy aggression, and defeat an aggressor, including in an environment of NBC weapons threat or use.

As a global power with worldwide interests, it is imperative that the United States, now and for the foreseeable future, be able to deter and defeat nearly simultaneous large–scale, cross–border aggression in two distant theaters in overlapping time frames, preferably in concert with regional allies. Maintaining this core capability is central to credibly deterring opportunism—that is, to avoiding a situation in which an aggressor in one region might be tempted to take advantage when U.S. forces are heavily committed elsewhere—and to ensuring that the United States has sufficient military capabilities to deter or defeat aggression by an adversary that is larger, or under circumstances that are more difficult, than expected. This is particularly important in a constantly evolving and unpredictable security environment. The United States can never know with certainty when or where the next major theater war will occur, who the next adversary will be, how an enemy will fight, who will join in a coalition, or precisely what demands will be placed on U.S. forces.

This capability also reassures U.S. allies, makes coalition relationships with the United States more attractive and enduring, and gives the United States greater influence and access in shaping the global security environment, helping to promote stability and preclude such major theater war threats from developing. Without it, the United States could be inhibited from responding to a crisis promptly enough, or even at all, for fear of committing its only forces and thereby making itself vulnerable in other regions of the world.

In this dynamic, uncertain security environment, the United States must continually reassess its security challenges, U.S. defense strategy, and the associated military requirements. If the security environment were to change dramatically and threats of large–scale aggression were to grow or diminish significantly, it would be both prudent and appropriate for the United States to review and reappraise its strategy and warfighting requirements. Such a reappraisal must recognize that the security environment can change rapidly and in unexpected ways, and that the full spectrum of U.S. military capabilities must be maintained in order to be able to deter or respond to the emergence of currently unforeseen challenges.

Preparing Now for an Uncertain Future

In addition to meeting the immediate challenges of a dangerous world through shaping activities and responding to crises, U.S. forces must also be able to shape and respond effectively in the future. As the nation moves into the 21st century, it is imperative that it maintain its military superiority in the face of evolving, as well as discontinuous, threats and challenges. Without such superiority, the United States’ ability to exert global leadership and to create international conditions conducive to the achievement of its national goals would be in doubt.

To maintain this superiority, the United States must achieve a new level of proficiency in its ability to conduct joint and combined operations. This proficiency can only be achieved through a unified effort by all elements of the Department toward the common goal of full–spectrum dominance envisioned in Joint Vision 2010, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s conceptual blueprint for future military operations. Implementing Joint Vision 2010 requires developing the doctrine, organization, training and education, materiel, leadership, and people to support truly integrated joint operations. Achieving this new level of proficiency also requires improving the U.S. military’s methods for integrating its forces and capabilities with those of its allies and coalition partners.

The Department’s commitment to preparing now for an uncertain future has four main parts:

· A focused modernization effort aimed at replacing aging systems and incorporating cutting–edge technologies into the force to ensure continued U.S. military superiority over time.

· Pursuing the Revolution in Military Affairs in order to improve the U.S. military’s ability to perform near–term missions and meet future challenges.

· Exploiting the Revolution in Business Affairs to radically reengineer DoD infrastructure and support activities.

· Hedging against unlikely, but significant, future threats in order to manage risk in a resource–constrained environment and better position the Department to respond in a timely and effective manner to new threats as they emerge.

Focused Modernization Efforts. Fielding modern and capable forces in the future requires aggressive action today. Just as U.S. forces won the Gulf War with weapons that were developed many years before, tomorrow’s forces will fight with weapons that are developed today and fielded over the next several years. Today, the Department is witnessing a gradual aging of the overall force. Many weapons systems and platforms purchased in the 1970s and 1980s will reach the end of their useful lives over the next decade or so. In response, the Department has substantially increased procurement spending so that it can ensure tomorrow’s forces are every bit as modern and capable as today’s. Sustained, adequate spending on the modernization of U.S. forces is essential to ensuring that tomorrow’s forces retain the capability to dominate across the full spectrum of military operations.

Pursuing the Revolution in Military Affairs. The U.S. military’s modernization effort is directly linked to the broader challenge of transforming its forces to retain military superiority in the face of changes in the nature of warfare. Just as earlier technological revolutions have affected the character of conflict, so too will the technological change that is so evident today. This transformation involves much more than acquiring new military systems. It also means developing advanced concepts, doctrine, and organizations so that U.S. forces can dominate any future battlefield. DoD will continue to foster both a culture and a capability to develop and exploit new concepts and technologies with the potential to make U.S. military forces qualitatively more effective. Part III describes in detail the Department’s strategy and activities toward transforming its military forces through the Revolution in Military Affairs.

Exploiting the Revolution in Business Affairs. A Revolution in Business Affairs is also in progress. Efforts to reengineer the Department’s infrastructure and business practices must parallel the work being done to exploit the Revolution in Military Affairs if the nation is to afford both adequate investment in preparations for the future, especially a more robust modernization program and capabilities sufficient to support an ambitious shaping and responding strategy through 2015. Measures are aimed at shortening cycle times, particularly for the procurement of mature systems; enhancing program stability; conserving scarce resources; ensuring that acquired capabilities will support mission outcomes; ensuring that critical infrastructures deliver the right services to the right users at the right time; increasing efficiencies; and assuring management focus on core competencies, while freeing resources for investment in high–priority areas.

These measures will require changes in political and public thinking about the infrastructure that supports the U.S. force. This thinking must be flexible, open to new solutions, and focused on the bottom line—support for U.S. forces. The QDR itself examined a large number of options and proposed a number of steps in this area, but much more fundamental work must be done to radically reengineer the Department’s institutions. To build the forces envisioned in Joint Vision 2010, DoD will need to develop additional programs in the years beyond the Future Years Defense Program. To afford those programs, the Department will need both the vision and the will to shrink and make dramatically more efficient its supporting infrastructure. Efforts to transform the Department are covered in more detail in Part IV.

Hedging Against Unlikely But Significant Future Threats. The fourth element of preparing is taking prudent steps today to position DoD to respond more effectively to unlikely, but significant, future threats, such as the early emergence of a regional great power or a wild card scenario. Such steps provide a hedge against the possibility that unanticipated threats will emerge. The Department will focus these efforts on threats that, although unlikely, would have highly negative consequences that would be very expensive to counter. Although such insurance is certainly not free, in an uncertain, resource–constrained environment, there are relatively inexpensive ways to manage the risk of being unprepared to meet a new threat, developing the wrong capabilities, or producing a capability too early and having it become obsolete by the time it is needed. Such an approach can also provide an opportunity to delay or forego costly investments in future capabilities the United States may not need.

Among the necessary hedging steps are maintaining a broad research and development (R&D) effort, using advanced concept technology demonstrations, continued contact with industries developing new technologies, and cooperation with allies who may develop new approaches to resolving problems. Hedging against the emergence of new threats also requires ensuring that the U.S. military has the necessary intelligence capabilities for long–term strategic indications and warning.

The Department’s activities in all four of these areas are only the initial steps in a continuing process. Preparing now for an uncertain future must become a central component of the DoD culture and a continuing focus of the Department’s efforts.


In each region of the world, the Department of Defense undertakes activities in an effort to secure U.S. national security interests. In addition to those vital U.S. interests stated earlier, each region presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. The Department’s strategies for dealing with these various regional challenges are critical to its overall effort to shape the international environment and remain prepared to respond to the full range of crises. Indeed, how the United States uses force and its forces sends a clear signal to friends and foes throughout the world about its interests, influence, and values.


U.S. Defense Objectives. U.S. defense efforts in Europe are aimed at achieving a peaceful, stable region where an enlarged NATO, through U.S. leadership, remains the preeminent security organization for promoting stability and security. Further, the United States seeks positive and cooperative Russian–NATO and Ukrainian–NATO relations and strengthened relations with Central and Eastern European nations outside of NATO. The United States desires a region in which all parties peacefully resolve their religious, political, and ethnic tensions through existing security structures and mechanisms. The United States and European nations should also work together to counter drug trafficking, terrorism, and the proliferation of NBC weapons and associated delivery systems.

U.S. Regional Defense Posture and Activities. The importance of European security to U.S. interests is made clear by the approximately 100,000 American servicemen and women stationed on the continent and the continuous presence of U.S. naval forces in the Mediterranean. Along with the many routine deployments of U.S.–based personnel, these forces ensure that the United States maintains an active and prominent role in NATO and in outreach efforts to NATO’s partners in the region. European–based U.S. forces are also often the first forces to respond to emerging crises in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

To promote new responses backed by new capabilities, DoD recognizes that the security environment NATO will face in the future is fundamentally different from the past and will continue to evolve. With the end of the Cold War, the United States and its European allies and partners are faced with a new strategic environment. In lieu of yesterday’s monolithic threat, today’s risks are unpredictable, multidirectional, and multidimensional. Through its experience in Bosnia, NATO learned that it needed to develop more mobile, flexible, sustainable, and survivable forces, capable of effective engagement. At its 50th Anniversary Summit in Washington in April 1999, the Alliance approved the DoD–proposed Defense Capabilities Initiative that addresses these critical factors. This initiative will enhance allied military capabilities in five key areas: deployability and mobility, sustainability and logistics, effective engagement, survivability of forces and infrastructure, and command and control and information systems.

In support of the broader transformation of European defense capabilities, the United States welcomes the NATO–anchored European Security and Defense Identity initiative, aimed at enhancing European capacity to take responsibility for and contribute to NATO objectives. The United States actively supports an enhanced role for partner nations, including Russia and Ukraine. The United States also welcomes the reaffirmation of NATO’s open door policy towards potential new members. Through its active involvement in NATO’s Southeastern Europe Initiative and the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial process, the United States is fostering cooperative structures involving allies and partners that, over time, can make significant contributions to increasing security and stability in the region. These structures are engaged in practical steps that range from strengthening multilateral peace support capabilities to improving information–sharing networks and military engineering skills in support of broader civil–military emergency planning and response efforts. Similarly, cooperation between the United States and each of the countries of Central Europe on the issue of accounting for missing American service personnel fosters trust and confidence essential to assuring the success of an expanded NATO partnership.

The New Independent States

U.S. Defense Objectives. The United States seeks the development of Russia, Ukraine, and the other New Independent States into stable market democracies fully integrated into the international community and cooperative partners in promoting regional security and stability, arms control, and counterproliferation. Integral to this goal is U.S. support of efforts to secure and stem the proliferation risk posed by former Soviet NBC weapons, weapons materials, and associated delivery systems or technologies, and to eliminate any former Soviet nuclear delivery systems remaining in the New Independent States other than Russia. DoD supports these efforts in part by working with the New Independent States (NIS) to eliminate NBC weapons, control the materials and technology to produce them, and advance indigenous capabilities to secure borders against their unauthorized shipment. Also integral to promoting regional security and stability, arms control, and counterproliferation is U.S. defense and military cooperation with the armed forces of the NIS, which seeks to reinforce their ongoing processes of restructuring and reform. The United States wants Russia to play a constructive role in European affairs, as exemplified by Russia’s role in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. The United States wants to further develop the NATO–Russian partnership, as well as the NATO–Ukraine partnership promoting Ukraine’s integration into European and Euro–Atlantic institutions. The United States further seeks a peaceful resolution to the ethnic and regional tensions in the New Independent States and enhanced cooperation in the fight against illegal weapons and drug trafficking, terrorism, international organized crime, and environmental degradation.

U.S. Regional Defense Posture and Activities. The Department of Defense contributes substantially to overarching U.S. security objectives in the region. In its bilateral foreign military exchanges with the NIS, the Department seeks to improve operational cooperation with their armed forces and to instill the principles of civilian leadership, defense resources management, sufficiency and transparency, and military reform and restructuring into NIS defense decision making. Such military interactions help overcome the mutual distrust and suspicion that are a legacy of the Cold War and create the basis for interoperability between U.S. and NIS armed forces. These bilateral efforts are complemented by multinational efforts, including those conducted through the Partnership for Peace program, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other organizations. The Joint Contact Team Program, State Partnership Program, and the Marshall Center are key programs which support this effort. The Department will continue to broaden military and civilian defense contacts; support the enhanced security for and dismantlement of Russian nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and associated facilities; and conduct, bilaterally and as part of NATO, combined training and exercises with the New Independent States to strengthen their interoperability with NATO and improve their capabilities for multinational operations. Continued cooperation on efforts to account for missing American service personnel also remains a high–priority issue in the bilateral relationships between the United States and the New Independent States.

East Asia and the Pacific Rim

U.S. Defense Objectives. The United States seeks a stable and economically prosperous East Asia that embraces democratic reform and market economics. Central to achieving this goal are the United States’ strong alliance relationships within the region, especially with Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea (ROK). In addition, it is critical to continue to engage China so that it contributes to regional stability and acts as a responsible member of the international community. The United States desires a peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict resulting in a non–nuclear, democratic, reconciled, and ultimately reunified Peninsula, as well as the peaceful resolution of the region’s other disputes, including that between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Successful counters to terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, and NBC proliferation are also major U.S. goals for the region. Finally, the United States seeks the fullest possible accounting for missing U.S. service personnel in Asia.

U.S. Regional Defense Posture and Activities. The United States is committed to maintaining its current level of military capability in East Asia and the Pacific Rim. This capability allows the United States to play a key role as security guarantor and regional balancer. The United States will continue a forward presence policy, in cooperation with its allies, that reflects its interests in the region and allows for adjustments in the U.S. force posture over time to meet the changing demands of the security environment. Today, the United States stations or deploys approximately 100,000 military personnel in the region. Of these personnel, over half are stationed in Japan and close to 40 percent are in the ROK. The United States will seek to continue and build upon bilateral and multilateral exercises with key states in the region, including the ROK, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia.

The most significant near–term danger in the region is the continuing military threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The United States remains fully committed to its treaty obligations to assist the ROK in defending against North Korean aggression. The United States also seeks a Korean Peninsula free of NBC weapons—a goal shared with the ROK and other allies and friends in the region. The U.S.–North Korean Agreed Framework froze North Korea’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and Taechon under International Atomic Energy Agency inspection. The Agreed Framework still provides the best means to secure North Korean compliance with its nonproliferation commitment under the Nuclear Non–Proliferation Treaty. The Department is also working with its Pacific allies to enhance their collective capabilities to deter and defeat use of chemical or biological weapons.

The U.S. security alliance with Japan is the linchpin of its security policy in Asia and is key to many U.S. global objectives. Both nations have moved actively in recent years to strengthen this bilateral relationship and update the framework and structure of joint cooperation to reflect the security environment. U.S. efforts to build on strong alliances with other nations in the region, especially Australia, buttress the U.S. goal of ensuring stability in Southeast Asia, an area of growing economic and political importance. The continued strengthening of U.S. security dialogues and confidence–building measures with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the ASEAN Regional Forum is one of many ways in which the United States is working to enhance political, military, and economic ties with friends and allies in Southeast Asia. The Asia–Pacific Center for Security Studies is a key U.S. initiative that promotes mutual understanding and cooperation by providing an academic forum for military and civilian decision makers from the United States and Asia to exchange ideas and explore regional security challenges.

The Asian financial crisis has shaken the region’s assumptions about uninterrupted economic development. Indonesia’s economic and political difficulties in particular will pose challenges to the established order both internally and in the region. Continued U.S. engagement in Indonesia will help promote the stability necessary to manage this difficult period of change.

Because of China’s critical importance in the Asia–Pacific region, the United States is working to integrate China more deeply into the international community. Specifically, the United States engages China in order to promote regional stability and economic prosperity while securing China’s adherence to international standards on weapons nonproliferation, international trade, and human rights. The United States also seeks greater transparency in China’s defense program, including its planning and procurement processes, and will continue to engage China in dialogue aimed at fostering cooperation and confidence–building. Military exchange programs, port visits, and professional seminars contribute to this dialogue and are aimed at building lasting relationships that will foster cooperation and build confidence among U.S. and Chinese leaders.

The Middle East and South Asia

U.S. Defense Objectives. The United States seeks a Middle East and South Asia at peace, where access to strategic natural resources at stable prices is unhindered and free markets are expanding. The region cannot be stable until there is a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between Arabs and Israelis and a peaceful resolution to Indian–Pakistani disputes. Stability also cannot be achieved until Iraq, Iran, and Libya abide by international norms and no longer threaten regional security. The Department, through the Cooperative Defense Initiative and various multilateral processes, is working actively with regional partners to address and deter the threat or use of chemical and biological weapons or long–range missiles by these states. DoD efforts will also concentrate on thwarting further proliferation of NBC technologies and successfully countering terrorism. The United States must continue working with regional allies and improving U.S. force capabilities to ensure that U.S.–led coalition forces have the ability to fight and win in an NBC environment. Stability in South Asia depends on improved relations between India and Pakistan, and a commitment from both countries to exercise restraint in their nuclear, missile, and chemical and biological weapons policies and practices.

U.S. Regional Defense Posture and Activities. The United States military presence in this region includes a limited long–term presence and a larger number of rotational and temporarily deployed forces. An average of 15,000 U.S. military personnel, as well as prepositioned critical materiel, are in the region to deter aggression and promote stability. These forces enforce United Nations resolutions, ensure free access to resources, and work with regional partners to improve interoperability and regional nations’ self–defense capabilities. The close military relationships developed with friends throughout the Middle East and South Asia, complemented by U.S. security assistance programs, contribute to an environment that allows regional states to more readily and effectively support U.S. crisis response deployments. This contribution is integral to U.S. deterrence efforts.

While the United States cannot impose solutions on regional disputes, its unique military and political position demands that it play an active role in promoting regional stability and advancing the cause of peace. In conjunction with diplomatic efforts, the U.S. military will continue to use military–to–military contacts as a means of promoting transparency, enhancing the professionalism of regional armed forces, and demonstrating the value of support for human rights and democratic values. Until South Asia’s nonproliferation issues are satisfactorily resolved, the U.S. military’s role in the region will focus on supporting multinational efforts to stabilize the region and safeguard international nonproliferation norms. The United States will also encourage participation by regional parties, where appropriate, in peace operations to help resolve international conflicts and promote regional cooperation.

The Americas

U.S. Defense Objectives. The United States desires all members of the Western hemispheric community to be peaceful, democratic partners in economic prosperity. U.S. defense strategies seek to have these nations exhibit a strong commitment to civilian leadership of their armed forces, constructive civil–military relations, respect for human rights, and restraint in acquisition of arms and military budgets. The United States also believes that the peaceful resolution of the region’s territorial disputes is particularly important. Transparency of military holdings and expenditures and the widespread use of confidence– and security–building measures directly and positively affect this goal. The United States is committed to maintaining the neutrality of the Panama Canal and freedom of navigation along the region’s sea lines of communication. Finally, successful counters to the region’s drug cultivation, production, and trafficking; arms trafficking; terrorism; NBC weapons proliferation; organized crime; and illegal migration and refugee flows are all central to U.S. territorial security and integrity.

U.S. Regional Defense Posture and Activities. Over 50,000 active duty and reserve personnel from the United States pass through the Caribbean and Latin America every year to participate in exercises, nation assistance, counterdrug support, instruction in demining operations, and other engagement activities.

The Department expends significant energy and time in encouraging the increasing acceptance by militaries in the region of their appropriate role in a constitutional democracy. These efforts include bilateral working groups, as well as the multilateral Defense Ministerial of the Americas. The Defense Ministerial brings together the defense ministers from the hemisphere’s democracies to discuss common concerns, which enhances transparency, reduces suspicions, and promotes an appropriate role for the military in a democratic society.

Transnational threats are particularly troublesome in the Americas. Because illegal drug trafficking and associated criminal activity threaten the United States and its interests in the region, DoD will continue to support other agencies in trying to stop the flow of illegal drugs, both at the source and in transit, and will encourage and assist other nations committed to antidrug efforts. DoD will also continue to support other agencies’ efforts to control illegal migration in the Caribbean Basin bound for U.S. shores through surveillance and temporary internment of undocumented migrants as required at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.

Sub–Saharan Africa

U.S. Defense Objectives. The goals of U.S. defense activities in Sub–Saharan Africa are to promote regional stability and to foster democratic governance so that African military services adhere to the democratic principle of civilian control of the military; African military units conduct operations and training in a professional manner, respecting recognized international human rights and military conduct standards; African Ministries of Defense design and organize their military forces to correspond with legitimate self–defense requirements and effectively manage resources allocated by civil authorities; and African military organizations have the capability to conduct national self–defense and can participate in sub–regional humanitarian relief operations and peacekeeping missions.

U.S. Defense Posture and Activities. To achieve these objectives, the Department of Defense actively engages subregional organizations; develops partnerships with key African states; engages problem states, as appropriate; cooperates and coordinates, rather than competes, with allied programs and initiatives; strengthens African strategic leadership to prepare for the 21st century; prepares prudently, and when necessary, responds decisively. U.S. regional defense activities and resources for sub–Saharan Africa, however, are limited. To best manage scarce resources effectively, the Department prioritizes programs and activities in relation to an African partner’s stability and its relative importance to U.S. national interests. Countries receive appropriate resources, activities, or programs that fall in one or more of the following categories: defense reform, military professionalism, conflict resolution and peace operations, technology, and health and environment. Activities and resources include military education and training programs, combined exercises, peacekeeping training and military humanitarian, and civic action programs. In this way, the Department of Defense tailors its activities to support United States security objectives and develop African partnerships where professionalism, self–defense, and respect for civilian control are the norm.


The defense strategy laid out above, and detailed in the Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, provides a path for the United States to protect and promote its national interests in the current and projected security environment. The United States must remain engaged as a global leader and harness the unmatched capabilities of its armed forces to shape the international security environment in favorable ways, respond to the full spectrum of crises when it is in U.S. interests to do so, and prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. This three–pronged strategy and the military missions inherent in it provide a common foundation for the Department’s programs and activities.

[Top] [Bottom] [Previous] [Next] [Table of Contents]