U.S. Force Posture in Europe


  • Damon Wilson, Vice President and Director, International Security Program, Atlantic Council
  • Ian Brzezinski, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, Atlantic Council SAG Member
  • Frank Kramer, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Atlantic Council SAG Member
  • Janine Davidson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans

DAMON WILSON:  Welcome to the Atlantic Council.  My name is Damon Wilson.  I’m vice president and director of the international security program here.  We’re delighted to have you join us here at the council today for this exciting conference, “U.S. Force Posture in Europe:  Assuring Allies in an Uncertain World.” 

And thank you for sticking with us.  As most of you know we had intended to do this over a month ago just before the release of the QDR.  A major snowstorm interrupted our plans and so we thank you for sticking with us, particularly our visitors from Europe, who we had to some work to reschedule.  And I think actually the topic remains even more germane in the wake of the publication of the QDR. 

We began to pick up this issue here at the council.  I just want to give you a sense of the origins before we get started.

First of all, I want to credit two of our senior fellows from the services, Col. Alan Hester and Lt. Col. Paul Bauman, who are with us today who are senior fellows on loan for a year from their services who have began to do work, a project on sort of NATO after Georgia was how their work began, but it got us also into this issue and the two of them started to begin some research mix in pursuit of this. 

At the same time we had several inquiries coming to the council from congressional staff who were interested in how the issue of the U.S. force posture would play out in Europe.  Obviously, a variety of views up on the Hill. 

And then as we started to dig into the issues, really it was a situation of building on the history of the work that the council had done on force posture issues in the past. 

In 2005, Frank Kramer helped lead a group here at the council on global futures and implications for U.S. basing, a report that the council did to put out some alternative views in the wake of, at the time, the release of the Rumsfeld plan, if you will.

But it was really one of our strategic advisors group members, Ian Brzezinski, who got the fire in the belly to sort of pick this up and help pick it up again and drive it forward this year. 

And so we convened in December a working group, a diverse range of folks, a lot of congressional staff, administration figures, folks from industry as well as from our policy network for quite a heated and frank discussion about the future of U.S. force posture in Europe. 

And we decided to begin to follow that up with this work, some research work we’ve been doing on it and wanted to feature this public debate here in part to ensure that there was a discussion, that we could foster a public discussion about what that presence would look like in the future. 

We’ve had a crack team here at the Atlantic Council, Manny Stoterman (ph), Jonathan Ruemelin (ph), Nik Sekaran (ph), Jason Harmala, who’ve helped put this together and I’m grateful for that.

Today’s event is also a conference that fits into our broader programming here at the council, where we’ve been putting quite an emphasis on the future of NATO, the future of the alliance. 

You’re probably aware recently we’ve hosted Secretary Clinton for a major speech on the future alliance as part of our partnership in helping to sponsor the final formal strategic concepts seminar with NDU and others just a few weeks ago.  Following that we hosted former secretary general, NATO Secretary Gen. Lord Robertson.  We hosted Gen. Abrial from Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk.  And tomorrow morning we’ll be hosting the president of Estonia, President Ilves, for another continuation in this series of the discussion about the future of the alliance. 

Those have been more strategic level discussions and this is going to hone in on a specific, concrete aspect of what that relationship represents.  We’re able to be here today because of the generous support we have from some of our sponsors.  I want to thank in particular Booz Allen Hamilton for its sponsorship along with L-3, MPRI. 

I want to recognize our board members from those companies that have been part of this:  Dov Zakheim from Booz Allen Hamilton; Gen. Craddock, who has appeared here at this lectern before the Atlantic Council as SACEUR and is now on our board and now at MPRI as well.  We’re thankful to the role that both companies have played. 

Today I’ll be handing the floor over to Ian who will be the moderator and the MC for today’s conference.  But we also have with us from Booz Allen Commodore Peter Walpole, Adm. Richard Jaskot who will help, be our moderators today along with Hank Allen, the vice president of MPRI.  So we’re very grateful for that generous support.  Thank you very much.

Ian Brzezinski is I think most importantly a member of the Atlantic Council Strategic Advisors Group and in that context he’s been a driving intellectual force in much of the work we do here at the council and particularly in that group.  You’ll be hearing from a range of members of the strategic advisor group throughout the day, Gen. Wald, Frank Kramer, others who will be participating also are active in this – it’s a standing body of trans-Atlantic defense and security experts. 

But Ian will be running the show today.  Having served currently as a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton but prior to that since 2001 deputy assistant secretary of defense for NATO and European policy; seven years before that served as staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he played a pivotal role in the issues related to NATO and in particular NATO enlargement, and prior to that served as director of the international security policy at the Council of Advisors to the parliament of Ukraine in 1993, 1994. 

So before I hand over to Ian, I also wanted to thank – we have with us the Romanian Ambassador Adrian – Ambassador Vierita who was kind enough to host a key group of folks for many of those coming in from out of town last night for a pre-conference dinner where we got a terrific discussion started on these sets of issues.  And we thank the Romanian Embassy for its support as well. 

So Ian, over to you.

IAN BRZEZINSKI:  Thank you, Damon, for such a kind introduction.  And thank you all for coming this morning for what I think is going to be a very interesting set of discussions on the future of U.S. force posture in Europe.

U.S. force posture – that’s the military bases, the facilities, the personal equipment and also the missions and capabilities, the capabilities they bring and the missions they serve.  It’s an important issue.  It’s a dynamic issue.  And it’s a very, very timely issue.

It’s important because the trans-Atlantic relationship remains our most important relationship, remains the United States’ most important relationship.  This is a strategic relationship which with relevance to our common interest had grown in important.  It hasn’t decreased.  It has grown in importance since the fall of the Berlin Wall some 20 years ago.

This is a point that’s underscored each and every day by the fact that American military and European military stand shoulder to shoulder with each other in Afghanistan, in Iraq, off the coast of Somalia and elsewhere around the world. 

Few two decades ago would have envisioned that this operational breadth would characterize a trans-Atlantic security relationship.  When we send forces into harm’s way, when the United States sends forces into harm’s way, the first community we turn to to back us up, to be with us are our European allies.  And the backbone of that joint capability is our military presence in Europe. 

And our military presence serves a number of issues.  Five of the most important are they’re a source of assurance, they’re our most visible demonstration of our commitment to the security of the European continent.  They provide a deterrent against aggression and coercion.  That facilitates interoperability and capability development.  They’re a springboard for action.  It provides additional agility and flexibility for emergencies planned and unforeseen or unexpected; and it’s a source of solidarity.  The relationships between our airmen, our Marines, our Navy personnel, our soldiers and their counterparts in Europe are complemented between those and their families.  And that has enormous weight.

When you look back over the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is a very dynamic issue and I recommend reading Paul and Allan’s primer which I think has been handed out.  It captures the ebb and flow in a relationship and the controversy that has surrounded the force structure issue.  Just some quick points.  We’ve gone from 300,000 down to less than 100,000 in Europe in terms of force size.  At the same time, as we become smaller in presence, our geographic scope has expanded.  There are now security locations in Romania and Bulgaria.  And it’s become a heated issue more recently with the administration’s decisions regarding missile defense in Europe.

Our missions that we served, our forces serve in Europe have changed.  Twenty years ago was very focused on the Fulda Gap.  Over the last two decades it’s become operations in Balkans.  It’s been operations to re-secure Kuwait and Iraq and now we have U.S. and European forces serving together just off the Khyber Pass.

And the threats are changing and that affects force structure.  It’s not longer solely territorial defense against territorial aggression, something which is not an irrelevant threat in light of what we remember for Georgia in the not too recent past, but it’s also against new threats that are not solely civil in character, not solely military in character.  They’re hybrid in character.  We have cyber attacks as experienced by Estonia, piracy, terrorism, energy cutoffs.  All these issues are shaping the force structure question, force structure decisions before the administration.

And recently, the Obama administration has begun rolling out its own philosophy of force structure.  Arguably, its most important decision in the trans-Atlantic arena has been this space adapted approach to missile defense – but has been complemented recently by the Quadrennial Defense Review, by the Ballistic Missile Defense Review soon to be released Nuclear Posture Review and an ongoing review of our European posture being done by EUCOM – and of course the Strategic Concept out.

So this morning, we’ve very lucky to have the opportunity to review the Obama administration’s emerging philosophy of force structure, its application to Europe and we’re going to explore this philosophy tapping into alternative perspectives from within the United States, from colleagues who’ve kindly flown in from Europe as well as from the U.S. Congress which ultimately must support the rationale and prioritization of the enduring investments that ultimately become force structure. 

So our day is going to be broken up into four elements.  We’re opening up with a keynote from Janine Davidson, who’s going to share with us the Obama administration’s perspective on force posture.  We have a panel of U.S. perspectives that will juxtapose the view points of current operators and policymakers with those of former operators and policymakers who can bring lessons learned.  We have a panel of European experts – to paraphrase a popular phrase – from New Europe, Old Europe and non-aligned Europe.  And we’ll have a bipartisan panel with two views from Congress from Rep. Jim Marshall and Rep. Michael Turner.

Let me introduce Frank Kramer, who’s going to introduce Janine.  Frank is a member of the Atlantic Council’s board.  He served as an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs where he was the department’s point person for NATO enlargement.  That’s how I got to know him.  He had an even more important job before that as deputy assistant secretary of defense for NATO European Affairs.  And as Damon pointed out, he recently has done a very important study on “Global Futures and Implications for U.S. Basing.”  Frank. 

FRANK KRAMER:  Thank, Ian.  Ian has laid out the issues and I’m not going to take a long period of time to rerun them because I think we really want to hear from Janine.  But I would say that it’s important in a group like this who probably are largely inclined to say yes to whatever the basing approach is to remember that there’s a strong gravitational pull within the United States that would say no or not so much or the like.  So we don’t want to just – as I said last night at dinner – we don’t want to just preach to the choir.  We want to make sure that we’re building forward to our common interest and that we’re thinking about the future.  Historically, the bases have obviously played a military role.  They’ve played a stability role.  They’ve played a training role. 

But the question is what role do they play in the future and how do they fit into what my friend, Harlan Ullman, sometimes called a brains driven strategy.  It seems to me that’s a very good question to ask.  And to start us off we have Janine Davidson.  I haven’t had a chance before to see her résumé but I absolutely love it.  She starts with a B.S. in architectural engineering, has a few modest other degrees, an M.A. and a Ph.D. in international studies.  Most importantly perhaps especially for some of the folks in the light blue over there, she was in the U.S. Air Force and flew C-130s and C-17s, if I understand it correctly and was also an instructor pilot.  So she really knows what she’s talking about. 

More recently, of course, she is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans.  She was the person who was most responsible for the QDR sets of decisions with respect to global force posture and of course those included the decisions on the force posture inside of Europe.  I had a chance to talk to her last night.  She’s a person who absolutely really knows her business and we’re really lucky to have her.  And with that, if I can bring you up to the podium, let you speak from here on and then later we’ll go to the table and do Q&As. 

Janine Davidson, thanks a lot. 

JANINE DAVIDSON:  Thank you, Frank.  Thank you for that introduction.  And thank you to the Atlantic Council for hosting this really very important event.  We’ve been working on this topic since I got in the building in April and I am always delighted to be able to speak with a group of people who are not only passionate about the topic but also know their stuff.  I got that impression last night definitely for sure and so I’m really, really looking forward to the discussion today.

When we started the QDR, the under secretary of defense for policy Michèle Flournoy asked me to think about why we maintain overseas posture or, as she put it, posture for what?  Well, with the conference title today, “U.S. Force Posture in Europe:  Assuring Allies in an Uncertain World,” I believe that the Atlantic Council has framed the issue exactly right.

When it comes to Europe, I believe the issue of assuring our allies about our long-term commitment to their security is a key driver for the maintenance of our posture. 

Since the first panel will delve a little bit more into this point on Europe, I’ll limit my comments to the department’s philosophical approach to posture, our sort of philosophy of posture, if you will, how we think about posture from a global perspective.

Let me start off by talking about how we conceptualize posture.  A lot of times – and this is especially true on the Hill as we were talking about last night – there’s a sense that posture is just about our bases, our footprint.  Well, we like to say that our posture is really more than that.  It’s our forces, our footprint and our set of agreements, forces, footprint and agreements. 

So the footprint is sort of the physical structures, the military construction and the bases.  Forces are that combination of things that we do, all the activities that we have.  And then agreements are really the legal agreements that we have with these countries where could be our SOFA agreements for the forces stationed aboard or the agreements to use airfields or to train in airfields or other bases.  So it’s a little more – I would say – comprehensive than just a set of bases so it’s not just a basing strategy.  It’s more than that. 

Our defense posture is one of the most visible indicators of U.S. national interests and our priorities abroad.  It exists to support U.S. foreign policy.  Our assignment for the QDR was to explain the department’s future approach to defense posture and taking a region by region look, consider how to align posture decisions with the overall U.S. foreign policy.

In the QDR we highlighted that the United States maintains a global defense posture for a number of reasons such as to defend the homeland from external threats, to demonstrate commitment and security of our allies and partners, as well as firm resolve to deter aggression in the position of the United States to work alongside our allies and partners to address current and future national security challenges. 

Now historically, the U.S. defense posture has moved along a spectrum between CONUS, continental United States and overseas, OCONUS, as we say, CONUS and OCONUS based forces. 

Our current defense posture is largely then a legacy of past conflicts and some of the present engagements that we’re in now.

Following the end of the Cold War, the United States shifted its focus away from containing the Soviet Union and began significant reductions in the number of force stationed permanently abroad.  This was particularly the case in Europe where we drew down, as Ian mentioned, our consolidated Cold War force structure from 300,000 forces to 100,000 forces by 2003. 

The 2004 “Global Posture Review” emphasized further consolidation of forces in the continental United States so we went more 20,000 which have been reduced thus far and 10,000 more due if the review was seen to completion leaving a total U.S. force presence planned of 70,000 forces in Europe.

The 2004 review also emphasized the reliance on a much lighter, scalable overseas footprint and increased investment in global attack and strategic mobility capabilities designed to maximize our ability to bring force to bear rapidly anywhere in the globe.  So this is what some people refer to as the so-called Rumsfeld philosophy.  We can reach out, we can get there, and as a former C-17 pilot, that sort of made sense to me but as we know, there are limits to that philosophy. 

The 2004 force approach to posture generated substantial benefits but it also imposed costs whose contours are now becoming increasingly clear.  As the QDR notes, this approach undervalued our enduring long-term relationships while overvaluing the reliance on technological solutions. 

So in the QDR we made a decision to depart from the 2004 review’s approach to defense posture.  The decision was based on our thoughts about the future as well as a number of lessons since the 2004 review. 

First, the projected security environment with its combination of persistent, widely dispersed irregular threats and highly capable adversaries able to contest U.S. access is not best addressed with a standardized global approach that fails to account for unique regional dynamics.  Our defense posture must be tailored to account for regional dynamics and sensitivities and calibrated to the unique mission sets we call on our military to perform on a region or sub region.

Furthermore, our defense posture must be regularly and rigorously assessed to adapt to changes in the strategic environment.  So it’s not just a one-time shakeup of the map.  We’re constantly looking at this and we have a process to do so.

Second, in an era of resource constraints, the U.S. cannot effectively manage global security challenges on its own.  The challenges and complexities of the emerging security and fiscal environments require a broad strategy of partnership and cooperation. 

Third, the 2004 measures to increase agility and flexibility in our defense posture by reducing our presence in a region may actually have a perverse effect.  Reducing our forward station forces may weaken our relationships with the host nations and lessen their willingness to receive us during a crisis.  So said plainly, unlike our forces, we cannot surge relationships, or I think as Adm. Stavridis says, you cannot surge trust.

Fourth, removing forces from theater may limit our deterrent options.  There may be cases where the ideal response to aggressive actions is the use of forces already in theater since that would be less provocative than actually surging forces from aboard in the case of crisis. 

Fifth, it is evident that there is still relevance in investing in permanently forward deployed forces to assure allies and partners.  Independent of the capabilities we can bring to bear in the region, some allies and partners are still reassured about the long-term U.S. commitment to their security by the force levels that we maintain on their soils.  To some of our allies numbers actually matter.

Sixth, hardening and resiliency measures are necessary in certain areas where posture has become vulnerable to potential adversaries, emerging anti-access and long-range strike capabilities. 

So now moving into the future – the department strives to take a more cooperative and tailored approach to posture.  If I had to say what is our philosophy now, I would say that sort of is the tagline for it.

Through a cooperative lens, the United States seeks to capitalize on allied and partner specialization and expertise.  We will cooperatively identify ways to generate synergies from each other’s postures and capabilities, a noteworthy benefit in a resource constrained environment. 

Within the U.S., a cooperative approach to defense posture will begin a whole of government to bear on regional and global security problems.  The United States will explore collaborative approaches to overseas posture that improve the synchronization of our efforts in diplomacy, defense and development.

A more regionally tailored approach to posture will reflect unique regional, political and security dynamics by harmonizing the right combination of relationships and agreements, forward stationed forces, rotational presence, pre-positioned equipment and basing infrastructure. 

Now with respect to Europe, let me highlight what this philosophy means:  alliances matter.  Long-term relationships matter.  NATO matters.  We seek to strengthen this alliance as a core guarantor of regional and, some would say, as Ian pointed out, global security.  And we will continue to refine our posture to reflect this emphasis. 

Thank you for this opportunity to speak about the administration’s approach to defense posture.  And I welcome your questions and the discussion from today. 

Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. KRAMER:  Thanks, Janine.  Is this on?  Anyone can hear?  I think you did a terrific layout.  Let me open it up to the audience but let me start with one question to get us going and you alluded to this but Adm. Stavridis testified about a week ago and one of the things he said which I found was interesting in his testimony was his reference to whole of government, whole society approach and how – (inaudible) – interagency and international military partnering is the heart of the enterprise for this command.  You’ve talked about the importance of working together but could you elaborate a little bit on that whole of government approach and how it relates to the posture and three parts that you talked about?

MS. DAVIDSON:  Sure.  That’s a great question.  I’ve done a lot of work in the sort interagency coordination and collaboration area.  I think with respect to Europe, you just have to look at what’s happening in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As Secretary Gates says, if our future conflicts are more likely to look a lot like our current conflicts, then we can expect the requirement to be more than just a military kinetic – as we say – response.  We, in the U.S. military, have learned a lot about how to work with our partners.  And I think our other agencies, USAID, State Department, Treasury, the list goes on, have also evolved and learned a lot about what it means to be expeditionary, what it means to work with the military and we’re just learning and learning on the fly.

I think the same is true for our allies in Europe.  There’s a lot to be learned from the way they coordinate their responses in a civil/military context.  And my EUCOM colleagues can elaborate a little more but I think that what Adm. Stavridis is getting at is also leveraging some of his experience from SOUTHCOM where that was a very integrated command and taking it to a bigger level in a NATO context.  So we have facilities in Europe that can be leveraged and used to capture lessons and to train together in a civil/military way, not just in a military way.  And I find that to be a refreshing vision. 

More globally though, what I am trying to look at in posture – you know, people always say – we always say that the military presence and the footprint and the stuff that the military people do abroad is the most visible manifestation of our national interests and indeed of our power.  But you know, one only has to look at the footprint of the new embassy in Iraq to realize that the State Department is a pretty visible image of U.S. national power in certain places and I think there’s a pretty big one getting built in Kabul as well.

So I think that we kind of owe it to the taxpayers and to everybody else to make sure that we’re integrating those macro issues together.  What does our overarching footprint, if you will, around the world look like, not just the military footprint?  We’ve been on the military side and beyond really beating the drum about other agencies, really sort of cheerleading for them to get more resources, to be more expeditionary which means by definition they will be out there with us, therefore they will be part of our posture.  And we need to get our heads around what that looks like in a whole of government way.  Sort of a long answer to your very simple question.

MR. KRAMER:  Great, great answer.  Let me throw it open to the audience.  I’ve got Harlan and anyone else who wants, just let me know and I will try and pick you up and if I don’t get you, throw something at me.

    Q:  I’ll be the first to throw something.  Thanks.  Janine, thanks for that great talk.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Thank you.

Q:  Let me ask the question in the context of having been and still remain on – (inaudible) – EUCOM advisory board for probably too many years.  I don’t believe numbers count.  I think relationships count.  I think, for example, if we wanted to have a much stronger relationship with Europe, the tanker deal and leaving it open to competition is probably worth 10 BCTs or some number like that.  So could you please give me the argument as to why you and the department really think numbers count because in my own view we’re going to have to do a lot more with a lot less.  And as long as we have the stronger relationships, I don’t think it needs to be tied to a numerical number.  Thank you.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Okay.  Great question.  Let me start by saying it depends to the extent that relationships are really important and our allies feel like numbers matter, then the numbers may matter.  That may be true. 

There may be a sense that – and you see this on the Korean Peninsula as well that there has to be this certain number or you’re not committed.  It may be true that they feel that way.  It may also be, as you say, irrelevant in a resource constrained environment and from an operational perspective. 

And so I’m not a person who says numbers always matter by default.  What I want to do as we look forward is to say, in a region by region way, what is it that our posture does, as Michèle Flournoy says, posture for what in this region, or posture for what in that region? 

And in certain environments, if you are postured for a potential threat that requires a potential war plan that you have on the shelf, that requires a lot of troops then by definition numbers matter or by operational imperative numbers matter.  I think there probably is an optimal amount in every theater.  Finding that sweet spot is the very hardest part. 

I’ll say one more thing about the numbers.  Numbers change when capabilities change.  So I think in the Rumsfeld philosophy, he felt like he could achieve the same operational effect with a global reach model. 

And I think what we’re saying is you can achieve an operational effect with a global reach model but you may not be able to achieve all of your operational and your strategic requirements with that sort of a model. 

So there is a balance between what sorts of capabilities can take the place of mass and where that works and where that doesn’t.  And that’s the way we’ll be approaching the next tranche of reviews to sort of see where capabilities can trade off for numbers and vice versa. 


Q:  Thank you.  Thanks very much, Dr. Davidson.  Thanks very much for the work that you and Michèle are doing for the DOD.  It’s really great.  I’m Tom Trimble with SAIC.  There’s a very longstanding decades-long disparity between our level of investment, the U.S. level of investment in command control communications and ISR systems and the investment levels possible for our allies and NATO and frankly for other U.S. department, the Department of State, USAID and so on.  Can you address please the degree to which that disparity is impacting our ability to interoperate and coordinate and do the things that you described in the philosophy?  Thanks.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Well, I would have to leave the details of that sort of a question to my uniformed colleagues who operate with them on a day to day basis but I would say that there’s a sense that our operations in Afghanistan and high operational tempo between us and NATO has improved our ability to operate together.  And this is part of the philosophy of building partner capacity in a combined way. 

Command and control is, I would say – and you can correct me if I’m wrong – that the number-one issue that you’re going to be looking at when you’re trying to do exercises with your partners.  Part of the – one of the primary reasons we want to be stationed forward is the work to enhance those sorts of relationships. 

Our allies in Europe have varying levels of capability.  In an ideal world they’ll all start to come up together.  And I think as some of our more advanced colleagues or allies help train the others, we can all do that together.  So I think we can also expect a little more from the uniformed military to address that later today. 

MR. KRAMER:  I’ll take one from the European side.  Andrzej.

Q:  Andrzej Karkoszka, from Poland.  Forgive me to stretch a little but your argument and sorry if I’m doing too much of this.  I have the impression that there is a certain conditionality in the U.S. view on NATO depending on its usefulness, on its ability to function also as a global useful instrument of influence.  Actually, a tendency within NATO is after Iraq and Afghanistan to the opposite.  How would you see – if that tendency negative in your eyes, in the American eyes, how would this influence your view on utility of NATO and importance of NATO?

MS. DAVIDSON:  What do you mean by do the opposite?

Q:  Opposite meaning that NATO would not fulfill the expectation of being the instrument of playing the global roles and going together U.S. in contingencies which you set as important.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Well, I think the issue of traditional Article Five sorts of reasons for the NATO alliance and our experience over the last few years is a little bit of a tension.  And I’m sure this will be addressed in much more detail in the next panel.  But I would say that out of area operations have been the reality and have been a way in which we have learned to operate together.  I think from the Strategic Concept we’re going to have to take a look at that really carefully and figure out what the center of gravity for the alliance is.  And until we do that or as we do that, that will inform our decisions and our ability – our decisions about what force posture is the most appropriate.

MR. KRAMER:  Stuart.

Q:  Yes.  Thank you.  Stuart Johnson from RAND.  Janine, thank you very much for a very thorough presentation of the strategy of how we would approach with allies and partners challenges as we look to the future. 

About two weeks ago, I think, Frank was – the Atlantic Council and National Defense University and some others had a very good seminar on the NATO Strategic Concept.  And there was some conversation about how the alliance would approach problems bubbling on the horizon.  And there’s quite a bit about what problems there were bubbling on the horizon.  And there’s quite a variety.  Some of our colleagues from EUCOM pointed out that the Arctic was becoming an area where there would be tension, invariably tension with Russia; piracy was mentioned. 

And then Jim Miller from the Pentagon gave a very compelling talk about how national security shifting from the tangible – make sure soldiers with the wrong uniform don’t come across your border – to the intangible, space, cyber, of course, piracy in the commons. 

Where do you see the center of gravity as you outline how you would approach these challenges?  Where do you see the center of gravity and challenges, tangible that we’re used to or the growing intangible problems that impact very much on our health of our economy and our security?

MS. DAVIDSON:  Well, I think that we’re very much in a period of uncertainty.  That was one of the key elements of our QDR work that led us to say that this is not the time to be making major muscle movements on our force posture map in Europe.  We had the Russian reset, the Strategic Concept, we’ve got all the challenges that you and Ian and everybody else have been mentioning.  And I don’t think we have a full sense of what that means for the alliance at this point.  I think there definitely are new and confusing challenges out there as Jim Miller articulated – cyber is another one but what’s the role of military power with respect to cyber?

Some of the – you know, Russia invading Georgia, what does that mean?  What does it mean for other sorts of provocative activities by states just short of the use of force?  What does that mean for the alliance? 

And just when we start to historically go down the path of everything is new and everything is different and it’s all about irregular threats and it’s all about insurgents and terrorists and non-state actors and states don’t matter anymore, states start to bubble up again. 

So I think that the short answer is that it’s going to have to be a balance between hedging for some of those uncertain things that we really don’t really know how to apply military power towards and also sustaining our traditional focus on things that states like to do and they still will do.  Human conflict will remain in some ways very the same even as other challenges emerge.

MR. KRAMER:  I think – (off mike).

Q:  Janine, let me ask you a question.  You, I think, have testified or at least been on the Hill numerous times in this regard.  Do you have a sense of where the Congress is on these issues?  Obviously, a very important player and we’ll hear later from two congressmen but I’d be interested just your own experiences in this regard.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Sure.  My own experiences have been a work in progress, learning a lot about what makes Congress tick on these issues.

We, in my position in the Pentagon, try to take a strategic approach.  We try to look at posture from a national security lens and try to be unconstrained by domestic issues and in our first tranche, resource issues.  Now, we don’t want strategy to be driven by programmatics and money.  We don’t want strategy to be naïve about funding limitations either.  So it’s a balance and it’s sort of an iterative, cognitive process.  So this is how we approach it.  Enter Congress and domestic politics. 

And in the case of Europe, very interesting situation because in the trajectory that was in place when we came in that was put in place in 2004, there were some forces that were scheduled to return to the continental United States.  And, you know, they don’t just come home and pluck down 5,000 Army people and all their families in a certain town.  That town has to get ready for that.  They have to pass bond issues and they have to build schools.  They don’t just build barracks and on-base housing.  They got out into the – the military goes out into the community and they talk to local developers and they try to come up to accommodation to get ready.  So for local leaders in those areas that’s a big deal, especially if it’s a small town. 

And so whereas we, at the strategic level, at the (fluffy ?) international relations level, at the grad school level like to say that we want to be flexible and we want to be adaptive to a dynamic strategic environment.  At the end of the day folks on the Hill have to put a pen to paper and write checks for stuff.  And so they require more lead time and they require more certainty and that generates attention. 

And so we work really closely with our congressional colleagues to understand where those concerns are and to try to get ahead of that curve and to try to be as in front of the strategic changes as we possibly can.  And it’s really hard because there is no crystal ball.  And so we are sensitive to the set of issues that they have to deal with but we have to be honest about ours as well and then we have to come together in order to do what’s best for the country.

MR. KRAMER:  Bob Beecroft(sp).

Q:  Bob Beecroft, Department of State.  You mentioned the whole of government approach and it’s an important factor for this administration.  It’s also important – I think it’s been very significant that the secretary of defense has been one of the great advocates for diplomacy overseas in recent years.  How are you making this real?  What kind of – because you’re in plans.  How are you coordinating plans with the Department of State and USAID in a way that would produce a whole of government outcome outside of the United States?

MS. DAVIDSON:  I think we’re making some progress in that area.  Let me just back up for those of you who are not familiar.  We have plans on the shelf for everything, most of which will never happen.  We have numbered war plans.  We also have plans – every combatant commander has a plan called the theater campaign plan.  And these are sort of new and they’re evolving and they reflect a sort of what are you doing in a steady state way?  You’re out there so what are you doing?  What’s your theory of change?  Why do you think your activities will change the environment?  And all of that is part of what frames our posture, for instance, mostly with the theater campaign plans and then with the war plans that may or may not be on the shelf. 

Especially with respect to the theater campaign plans, those are very sort of steady state.  That, to me, is an area where the other agencies are already operating and to better integrate those efforts could start with the theater campaign plans and that’s where we’re focused as the sort of first step.

With respect to other plans, we have informal dialogue through – we do have conferences that are formal in order to sort of make sure that what the military is writing into the military plans is facts not fiction about capabilities and things to expect from those other agencies. 

Now, all that said, there’s a vision out there that says, boy, wouldn’t it be nice if military planners and State Department planners and other agency planners sat down together and planned together?  

Unfortunately, the other agencies don’t have the capability and capacity just yet to do that kind of thing.  That’s the first problem.  The other problem is that some of the stuff that’s in those military plans are just sort of too much information.  I mean, really detailed – you know, this plane’s going to go and at this time.  So what we’re trying to do is come up with a process that makes best use of their time and wherein they feel like it’s not just a military plan that they’re helping with that they’re going to get something out of it as well. 

So we’re definitely making progress but the long pole in the tent is definitely resources for the other departments which is what Secretary Gates is constantly advocating for. 

MR. KRAMER:  (Inaudible.)

Q:  Janine, thank you.  I want to go back to Andrzej’s question if I could and prod it specifically.  As you’re thinking about global force deployment policy plans, how are you weighing in your methodology contingency planning, operational contingency planning for those contingencies that were identified during the QDRs, the most probable that we might need to deploy forces and then political constraints that might arise, for example, as they did with respect to Turkey – (inaudible) – when we were going into Iraq?  And then how do you go to the Hill and make the case? 

You talked around the Army Striker Brigade deployment in Europe and Texas delegation expectations.  How do you make the case to Congress as to the importance for the war fighter and operational planning, keeping forces in Europe not just for building relationships with NATO because just to play devil’s advocate, there’s not a lot of support for NATO on the Hill these days partly because there’s not a lot of understanding of what NATO is or what the new NATO might be and how it’s evolving. 

So how are you going to make the case when asked specifically about the importance, the methodology and the priorities?

MS. DAVIDSON:  Well, first of all, let me say that one of the reasons why we came up with the notion of having a cooperative and a tailored approach to posture is this issue exactly.  If you are a combatant commander in a dangerous neighborhood and your job is to make sure that you’re ready for whatever potential contingencies might be out there, you’re going to want as much of your forces close by as you possibly can or some reassurance that they’re going to be there in a heartbeat.  If that’s all you cared about, and it’s not what all combatant commanders cared about – but if that were all you cared about, your posture would be pretty robust.  I mean, it would shoot up there. 

At some point, that posture becomes provocative or expensive.  And so it’s sort of a classic security dilemma.  As you’re trying to assure and deter and be prepared for these plans that you have on the shelf, now you become provocative to what other competitors you have in the region and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So what we’re trying to do is – our conceptualization or methodology is to find that sweet spot.  By definition it’s imperfect science.  There’s just no way to find that perfect spot because assurance and deterrence are fundamentally about perception and it varies per region because of the relationships that you have, the history that you have and the cultures of the allies and the competitors in every region. 

So that’s the challenge that we have in every region.  Add to that a global challenge which is everything I just said, again, may be true in a certain region, may also be irrelevant again from a global perspective because everything in this particular region is less important at this particular moment than the fact that we’re fighting these two big wars in another region and so we’re going to have to make tradeoffs.  So that’s how we’re trying to conceptualize that. 

On your point about how to have that dialogue with the Hill about NATO, I think it’s the inherent tension in the system, it’s our classic checks and balances to have our congressmen and senators worried about the home front and worried about the checkbook and that’s what they’re supposed to do.  And so we have to be responsive to that.  I mean, would I welcome a world where everybody just has the same national vision about where we should be abroad?  Sure.  But I don’t think that’s realistic.  And so we’re going to have to have dialogue.  We’re going to have to have – not everybody is ever going to agree about the purpose of forward stationed forces.  Not everybody sees the world as a dangerous place. 

So you’re just not going to – you’re not going to completely get there but I think that we have to continue to have dialogue, to talk and to elevate the discussion on the Hill to that strategic level and think of it more as a balance as opposed to just a straight up tradeoff so that’s how we have to do it.  And this form is really helpful in that regard.

MR. KRAMER (?):  Let me ask maybe a final question.  We talk about this a lot in terms of U.S. strategic analysis and U.S. domestic requirements, Congress and the like.  At least my own experience which is spread over maybe one or two years in this is that we don’t actually talk so much about what would Europe’s plans, strategic approaches be for us?  Would it be better or more useful to have a European concept that lays out how they see U.S. force posture fitting in? 

Now, of course, we have some very distinguished European colleagues here and maybe they can jump in on this and I don’t know if you want to, General?

Q:  You took the – (off mike).  You said there’s a final question.  I wanted to ask you a question – (off mike) – really most interesting and excellent speech. 

If I see it properly – sorry.  I forgot to introduce myself.  I’m Gen. Naumann, the former chair of the Military Committee, another European voice.  If I see properly, all the building blocks which you agreed upon in the United States administration, the QDR to be followed by the NPR and then missile defense concept.  They will presumably end up in an American input to the new Strategic Concept which if I see the outcome of the (four seminars ?) at the end, you probably will – at the end of the day mean that NATO will and should agree on what I would call expeditionary defense.  That means to meet the threats there where they emerge. 

And at the other long and time consuming process which will require a lot of patience on the side of the Americans, which is not typically for Americans, NATO will probably arrive at some capabilities for such an expeditionary defense.

But the question remains, are we then prepared for the likely contingencies we have to face?  We are confronted with intelligent opponents, opponents who look at our weak spots.  They will not attack us where we are strong.  They will try to identify our Achilles’ heel.  And everything is on the market in this world.  So it seems to me we have to focus first on really exploiting information superiority.  That’s one of our high marks.  And there the requirement for the United States will be to really use NATO as the option of choice for consultation and crisis management in a very early stage.  At this point in time I think we’re a little bit away from that objective.

Secondly, if we agree on an intervention, then we have to be prepared to see it through.  And we could not afford to leave our precious and relatively limited combat elements for years to come in an intervention area but I do not see anything at this point in time what I could – (inaudible) – forces which you will need to see the intervention.  So I needed them when I was chairman of the Military Committee in Bosnia and we didn’t have them in Kosovo and you didn’t have them in Iraq and I think we still don’t have them in Afghanistan.

Then number three, we see incredible developments in the field of sciences.  Most threatening from my perspective, biological warfare where within 10, 15 years we may see situations which could really expose us to dangers for which we are simply not prepared.  So what shall we do on all these areas in order to be better prepared and at the same time to take into account that your European allies will suffer from two limitations from which you probably will not suffer in the same degree? 

The one is financial.  That, of course, you can counter by saying you can overcome it.  It’s an issue of political will.  You’re right but the will isn’t there because all these guys want to be reelected like your president wants to be reelected.

And then, number two is demographics.  We are running short of people and it’s a dramatic development in Europe.  It’s worse in Russia.  That’s good for us.  But for us Europeans it’s really a problem.

So I think we need to really develop a force planning concept which I cannot see at this point in time somewhere emerging in NATO which takes all this into account and tries to achieve the optimum capability for a future which will expose as always in war to the unexpected.

MS. DAVIDSON:  Excellent – (inaudible).

MR. KRAMER:  We’re going to do another conference on this issue.  (Laughter.)

MS. DAVIDSON:  Right.  All right.  Well, that’s probably the perfect question to end this panel on since I think it will feed right into the topic of the next panel which will delve more deeply into some of these.

Let me just say from my perspective, I’m the deputy assistant secretary for plans but I also do posture.  And it’s nested in a bigger deputy under secretariat that combines strategy, plans and force development.  Now this is just how the U.S. Pentagon does this.  You know, we think about our strategy in the long term.  We think about our plans in the short term and we try to glue that together into some sort of a force construct and that’s what we do in the QDR.

There’s not anything like that in NATO because it’s one tightly managed entity but it is an interesting goal.

From the posture perspective, all that input goes into what we think would be require from a posture perspective.  In our following work from the QDR, as I said before, we have this policy of going slow and consulting.

What we would like to see is those sorts of discussions happening at the multilateral NATO level so that it would better inform what we think is the best complementary capabilities to have on the continent with our European allies so that it isn’t just like, here’s what the U.S. thinks about interests.  Here are the things that we think might happen and here’s what we’re going to have abroad.  We don’t want it to be that way.  We want it to be in consultation with NATO which is one of the reasons why we’re trying to sync up this next phase of analysis with a Strategic Concept and the dialogue.

MR. KRAMER:  Well, Janine, let me thank you very much.  I know the audience thanks you both for the thoughts and the time.  It’s a great kickoff to the set of questions.  and I think we’re going to go through this all day but again I think we, from my own perspective need to think about not only issues of the U.S. strategic interest but also Europe’s strategic interests and how they come together and how we can really put those out in away that’s convincing to all of our public. 

So again, thanks very much.  (Applause.)

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