Strategic Responsiveness: New Paradigm for a Transformed Army

October 6, 2000

Two interdependent characteristics distinguish strate-gically responsive military forces:

• a combination of mission capabilities able to counter any significant threat to U.S. vital interests and

• the ability to deploy the right mission capabilities to the right places at the right times to achieve decisive results.

While much remains uncertain about the security environment of the 21st century, this much is already clear: In the future, a number of states will be able to threaten our nation’s interests in new ways by using asymmetric capabilities. The National Command Author-ities (NCA) and the warfighting commanders in chief (CINCs) will need greater flexibility than is offered by today’s forces.

In this future environment, the Army must be ready to respond to missions ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, to peacekeeping and peacemaking, to major theater wars—including conflicts involving use of weapons of mass destruction. A strategically responsive Army must be deployable and able to operate as part of a joint, combined or multinational force. When called on to fight, the Army must be able to initiate combat on its own terms, retain the initiative, build momentum quickly, and win decisively.

The Army has been working to develop and field forces with these capabilities. However, the last decade has been marked by dramatic force reductions, an unprecedented number of force deployments, and Department of Defense-wide "holidays" in research, development and procurement. So progress has been painfully slow. To finish the job, the Army must continue enhancing selected existing capabilities, add new ones, and increase the speed with which its capabilities can be brought to bear.

In other words, the Army must transform itself.

Meaningful Army transformation cannot happen overnight—but it can happen over time, as a result of continuing innovation, if it receives long-term support from fully committed leaders at all levels. The need for support extends beyond the Army to the other services, the Defense Agencies, the CINCs of the unified commands, the administration and Congress.