- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2002

Over the past few days North Korea has announced its intention to restart its nuclear program, disabled the cameras that monitor its nuclear sites, and broken the seals that have kept 8,000 spent fuel rods from being used to support its nuclear arsenal. Additionally, North Korean Defense Minister Kim Il Chol warned that tensions between Pyongyang and Washington were pushing the Korean Peninsula to "the brink of a nuclear war." To make a bad situation even worse, North Korea takes these steps just as our nation is gearing up for a potential war against Iraq. Taken at face value, North Korea's actions threaten U.S. security.
Now what if, while everyone was looking towards Iraq, we turned on a dime and crushed North Korea's nuclear and military capability? It would be the last thing expected, and therefore produce a strategic and operational surprise that would likely produce victory.
One little problem: we do not have the military capacity to conduct such an attack.
Now, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is correct in asserting that the U.S. military's 1.4 million active-duty force is structured to defeat and occupy a foreign power (like Iraq for instance) while nearly simultaneously winning a war against a second foe (like North Korea). These requirements are supported in documentation provided by the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
The problem is timing. We can fulfill the requirements of the QDR, but only as in the case of Iraq after a lengthy build up of forces in the region. The same holds true for North Korea. If one is looking or a strategic blitzkrieg, it just ain't gonna happen.
In order to truly live up to the demands of the QDR and implement President Bush's new National Security Strategy (and its partner, the preemptive strike policy), we are going to have to double the Department of Defense's budget and create a new operational concept of war.
In terms of defense dollars, our current Department of Defense (DoD) budget is 3.5% of the more than $10 trillion gross domestic product (GDP). Next year, the DoD budget will grow to $380 billion, while the GDP will rise by a projected 3.5%. Contrast these figures with World War II, when the defense budget was 35-40% of GDP; or Vietnam, when DoD's budget was 10% of the GDP.
Therefore, one might ask, "why in our Global War on Terror and with potential conflicts against Iraq and North Korea are we not doubling the military's budget to 7% of GDP?" The answer is that we should.
Next, we need to develop a new operational concept of war that supports President Bush's National Security Strategy and preemptive strike policy. The current debate on the use of force to counter both the Iraqi and North Korean threats has highlighted an operational gap in American military capability. The inability to project massive decisive combat power at a time and place of our choosing has handcuffed American strategic alternatives with regards to these potential enemies. Basing rights, logistical constraints and allied support dominate a debate that should be based instead on unconstrained military capability in support of U.S. national interests. To unfetter the four elements of national power in dealing with state and non-state threats to national security, the Department of Defense will have to radically change beyond the current transformation strategies of the four services. In short, the U.S. needs a military that can project massive combat power in terms of hundreds of thousands of personnel and supporting equipment in 72 hours, not 72 days.
To bridge the gap between current and desired military capability, the Department of Defense must embrace a joint operational concept for the future: Decisive Forced Entry. Decisive Forced Entry would focus on the massive, rapid projection of military force by strategic airlift from the continental United States to a point of enemy weakness. This overarching philosophy will drive a force structure that supports President Bush's announced pre-emptive strike policy, creating a full spectrum capability that relies less on forward presence and more on force projection from the protection of the U.S. homeland.
By radically transforming operational concepts and marrying these concepts to force structure, a force can be created (means) that will meet both existing and future goals (ends) under constrained resources all while managing the risks that face us.
At the end of the day, if we have to debate whether we have enough military power to wage two preemptive wars, then we probably do not have enough military power. And if our objective is to negotiate from a position of strength or demolish our potential enemies, then we had better fund a military capable of backing up our talk.

Roger D. Carstens is a member of the Council of Emerging National Security Affairs. E-mail: [email protected]

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