By Barbara Starr
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is days away from unveiling the long awaited strategic review of the future of military forces, its global role and missions in early January, a senior Pentagon official tells CNN. The strategy is expected to be the fundamental blueprint for the future of the US military over the next decade.
The so-called “comprehensive strategic review” is nearly done and scheduled to be made public by Panetta according to the official with direct knowledge of the review. He declined to be identified until the review is made public.
The review, which was ordered by the previous defense secretary, Robert Gates, will provide a policy road map for the military and become a guide for where the planned more than $450 billion in budget cuts could be made, the official said.
“This will review the kinds of capabilities the military needs going forward,” he said. “It’s going to provide the overarching strategic guidance.”
The report will review current military missions and capabilities and recommend on a broad level which ones should continue, which can be discontinued, and where new areas of military emphasis may be undertaken. It comes against as the Pentagon increasingly emphasizes 21st century capabilities like cyber-warfare and decreases emphasis on more traditional large scale land warfare.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has spoken recently about the need for the military to be able to respond rapidly to a crisis, even with a smaller budget constrained force.
“We’re going to be developing a smaller, lighter, more agile, flexible joint force that has to conduct a full range of military activities that are necessary to defend our national interests,” Panetta told the New York Times last month. “So even though they’re going to be smaller and lighter, we’ve got to make sure they always maintain a technological edge.”
Observers will be watching closely to see what the report says about the traditional military goal to be able to conduct two regional contingency operations. Even with the end of the Iraq war, and the expected downsizing in Afghanistan, the threats posed by Iran and North Korea still may play heavily in any Pentagon decision making.
The official emphasized the report won’t be a shopping list of future military roles and missions, but rather a broad look at what is needed for the future.