to adapt to them. (A more detailed discussion of the evolution of defense planning is in Appendix B.)


Significant shifts in defense planning, strategy, and processes have taken place since the end of the Cold War and today’s Global War on Terror (GWOT). Beginning with the first Bush administration’s Base Force concept in 1989 through today’s Transformational Efforts and Capabilities-Based Planning, the Department of Defense (DoD) has steadily adjusted its strategic course and capabilities to address the changed threat and meet the challenges posed by the global security environment.

U.S. defense planning historically has been based on an enumeration of likely war-fighting scenarios. Thus, in the early days of the Cold War, defense planners calculated their risk analyses based on the need to be able to respond to two and one-half conflicts at one time (that is, possible wars with the Soviet Union in Europe and with the People’s Republic of China in Asia and a half-war with another regional state, in the event Vietnam). For the most part, successive administrations relied on this basic conflict-counting strategy (Kaplan, 2005). President Nixon’s strategy presumed the need to respond to one and one-half conflicts simultaneously, for example. The recent history of defense planning, and the history most pertinent to understanding the NDS and its relevance to defense needs, breaks down into two turning-point periods—1990-2001 and post-9/11.


With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the recognition that U.S. defense planning and force structuring would need fundamental realignment with concentration on addressing regional rather than global conflict while maintaining a minimal force and preserving a hedge capacity to rebuild defenses for global warfare in the event of a resurgent superpower rivalry (Larson et al., 2001). As such, the defense strategy for the 1990s, as outlined in the 1992 National Military Strategy (NMS), called for a new, four-pronged approach based on strategic (nuclear) deterrence and defense, forward presence (that is, a smaller force than conceived under the previous forward defense strategy); crisis response (given the uncertainty surrounding the geographic location of future conflicts); and reconstitution (Powell, 1992).

The last two prongs of the strategy explicitly allowed for a return to Cold-War-era force levels and capabilities if necessary. This was deemed a vital part of the defense strategy given domestic—that is, congressional—interest at the time in cutting defense spending in order to reap a “peace dividend,” a goal that Pentagon officials feared might cut too deep into military readiness (Jaffe, 1993). Interest-

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