Defense review to incorporate lessons since 9/11

The Defense Department soon will look into its crystal ball and envision what it will look like in two decades.

In February 2006, senior Defense leaders will present to Congress the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), an exhaustive study conducted every four years that lays out a 20-year projection of Defense transformation.

In the document, DOD officials also will discuss how the department has transformed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which marked the period of the last QDR. In the last review, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for increased spending on technology and a focus on the likely new battlegrounds of the 21st century'including space and cyberspace.

"Network-centric warfare underpins a lot of what the department is doing," said Terry Pudas, acting director of DOD's Office of Force Transformation. "It's about creating an information advantage and turning that into a competitive advantage."

Pudas and other senior Defense and service officials spoke yesterday at the Joint Force Transformation conference, sponsored by the International Institute for Defense in Washington.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, officials said the Defense Department has plowed significant ground in the area of transformation.

Chat rooms are now used as a major planning vehicle to plan strategy and improve warfare tactics. Blue Force Tracking systems helped troops locate enemy and friendly forces on the battlefield. Unmanned aerial vehicles such as Global Hawks and Predators are providing imagery and boosting situational awareness, said Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.

Some transformational plans were administrative in nature, Henry added. For example, the Northern Command was stood up to handle homeland defense issues; the Strategic Command became the lead for information operations and weapons of mass destruction integration efforts; and the Special Operations Command took on oversight efforts to synchronize global war on terrorism initiatives.

As the QDR is being planned out, officials are drawing from the lessons learned and progress made since 2001, according to Henry. "We're going into the QDR with a lot of operational know-how," Henry said.

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