Iran is top ‘contingency’ in whittled U.S. war plans

Pentagon to rely on more allied help

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“The United States will emphasize non-military means and military-to-military cooperation to address instability and reduce the demand for significant U.S. force commitments to stability operations,” it states.

“U.S. forces will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required, operating alongside coalition forces wherever possible.”

‘Doing less with less’

“U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations,” it says. “Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives.”

Conservatives have called the Obama plan too risky in its assumptions that the U.S. will not face a protracted ground war and can rely on significant numbers of allied troops if it does.

“I think it’s just rubber-stamping the budget cuts,” said James Carafano, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “Basically, what they are doing is dumping any scenarios that require long-term commitment of forces on the ground.

“The problem is the enemy gets a vote. I don’t think this will mean much in the long term on doctrine, but it will speed hollowing out the force.”

An analysis by the Congressional Research Service, the public policy research arm of Congress, states: “On the surface, the guidance appears to call for doing less with less. … It includes willingness to assume some greater risk, without specifying the scope and scale of that risk, to accomplish simultaneous missions.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta says the strategic guidance will lead to a “smaller and leaner” force that “will be agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced. … The joint force will be prepared to confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.”

A spokesman for Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the general is holding a series of strategic seminars to discuss the Obama strategy and how the force will be postured over the next five years to carry it out.

Gen. Dempsey has held two such meetings with the Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders, and will hold another this month.

“We made some assumptions about changing capabilities, technologies and policies of both adversaries and allies in 2017, and to take a rough look at the supply and demand for our forces worldwide in 2017,” said Marine Col. David Lapan.

“We’re testing our assumptions and testing our ideas. As expected, we’ve come up with many questions to explore in future seminars. We’ll keep doing that.”

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