The Pentagon’s new Quadrennial Defense Review is taking a hard look at the two major theater war planning construct, a senior OSD official told defense reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C. “It’s not dead,” said David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development. He continued, “There’s still a lot of deliberation going on in the Pentagon about the ultimate capacity of the force.” Ochmanek, who is head of the QDR’s analysis and integration cell, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates does want to retain the capacity to project power into multiple regions of the world simultaneously. The new security environment is messier and a hybrid of the low end and high end of threats, Ochmanek said. Dealing with it means “something like a two-war or multi-engagement capacity in the force,” an overall capability that is “comparable but not identical” to the force needed under the traditional two-war planning construct. However, Ochmanek noted, Gates is shying away from “bumper stickers and oversimplifications” in how this is articulated. When Ochmanek was asked if such a force could handle theoretical simultaneous conflicts on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran, he said it unequivocally would. He cautioned critics not to “misread” Gates as reorienting US forces toward the low end completely, suggesting that capping F-22 production at 187 airframes was a strategic choice that fits into the overall concept. Ochmanek said that it was his understanding that 186 Raptors (one production Raptor was lost in a 2004 crash) was deemed appropriate to confront the “most stressing threats,” such as high end anti-access conflicts, with planned modernization of the rest of the fighter force around the F-35 deemed “quite adequate” to deal with other kinds of regional threats.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.