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Barnett: US Overseas Military Structure: effect on US and Global Security [Congressional Testimony]
Thomas P.M. Barnett ^ | November 09, 2004 | Thomas P.M. Barnett

Posted on 12/23/2004 7:35:27 AM PST by Tolik

Testimony to the Congressional Overseas Basing Commission

Dateline: Office of Force Transformation, Rosslyn VA, 9 November 2004


First, let me thank the Commission on Overseas Basing for inviting me to testify here today.

Second, let me emphasize right from the start that I'm not an expert per se on the U.S. military's global basing structure. I am essentially a grand strategist who spends his time contemplating the long-term objectives of U.S. foreign policy with a particular focus on how the employment of military force around the world can bring about not just increased security for our country, but improve the global security environment as a whole. I have written extensively on this subject, and I know that it is primarily on the basis of my recent book, The Pentagon's New Map, that I was asked to testify today, so many of my comments here will involve describing how I think this new map informs future planning for U.S. overseas basing realignment.

The concept of the new map began with a simple geographic display of where America sent its military forces since the end of the Cold War. In my view, this distribution represents the natural demand pattern for U.S. security exports since the Soviet Union departed the scene. By the exporting of security, I refer to the time and attention spent by the U.S. military on any particular region's actual—or potential for—incidences of armed conflict or mass violence—either between states or within them. By my calculation, U.S. military crisis response activity over the past 15 years represents a roughly four-fold increase compared to the 15 years following the end of the Vietnam War. I come to that conclusion by adding up the combined total of the four major services' cumulative days of operations in these responses. It was not only that America conducted more operations over the last decade and a half, but also that these operations grew tremendously in length and complexity.

How did America deal with this tremendous growth in the world's demand for our exporting of security? Especially as the Pentagon itself was engaged in a long-term downward glide path in terms of personnel and resources? We essentially mounted five major responses:

1) We denied the existence of this rising demand, by adhering as strictly as possible to the tenets of the Powell Doctrine, which said in effect, "pull out of any situation as quickly as feasible"

2) We denigrated the importance and utility of the bulk of these responses, dubbing them Military Operations Other Than War, thereby justifying the Pentagon's well-demonstrated tendency to under-fund, under-prioritize, and under-man the skill sets associated with post-conflict stabilization operations

3) We tried to technologize the problem away, but unfortunately we spent the vast bulk of our money on the warfighting side of the house, effectively providing to America what it has today: a first-half team that plays in a league that insists on keeping score until the end of the game

4) We outsourced as many non-combat functions as possible, pushing them on to both allied militaries and private contractors, and

5) We ran significant portions of the Reserve Component ragged by turning them into de facto active duty.

In my opinion, the Defense Department has effectively run out the string on all of these responses: the Powell Doctrine has been overtaken by the events of this Global War on Terrorism; Military Operations Other Than War can no longer be counted upon to remain in the category of "lesser includeds," unless drive-by regime change is considered enough to constitute "mission accomplished"; the occupation of Iraq will invariably transform transformation, shifting its focus from the "first-half," or warfighting portion of the force, to the "second-half," or peacekeeping and nation-building portions of the force; this global war has clearly strained the ability of our traditional allies to mount sustained operations in support of U.S.-led interventions; and there is already credible discussion of the possibility of reinstituting a draft in order to meet the pressing needs of rotating our ground forces into and out of the current theaters of operations. In short, we have picked all the low-hanging fruit in our increasingly desperate responses to this burgeoning demand curve, to include our relatively understated drawdown of military installations across the United States in the 1990s.

If America is going to continue to pursue a Global War on Terrorism that many experts have logically argued will extend for not just years, but decades, then we must be willing to dramatically reshape both the structure of our forces (rebalancing them extensively in the direction of Military Operations Other Than War) and their positioning around the planet (the subject of this commission). I believe these two change processes are highly interrelated, and here I present what I think are the clarifying strategic concepts embedded within this "new map" for the Pentagon.

The Non-Integrating Gap (shaded) and Functioning Core (un-shaded) of globalization [from The Pentagon's New Map (Putnam, 2004)]

Included in my submitted testimony is a graphic of a global map (see above) whose shaded portions encompass what I have dubbed globalization's Non-Integrating Gap, or those regions that are both least connected to the global economy in a broadband fashion and have accounted for approximately 95 percent of crisis responses by the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War. Within this Non-Integrating Gap, I can locate basically all the wars, all the civil wars, all the ethnic cleansing, all the genocide, all the incidences of mass rape as a tool of terror, all the situations where children are lured or forced into combat units, all the active UN peacekeeping missions, and the centers of gravity for all the transnational terrorist networks we're targeting in this Global War on Terrorism. This Non-Integrating Gap marks both the effective limits of the spread of globalization in terms of deep social, political, economic connectivity and associated content flows, as well as the spread of stable governance that defines the lack of mass violence and armed conflict throughout what I call the Functioning Core of globalization, or those countries and regions not shaded on this map that have enjoyed both collective peace and the rapid integration of their national economies since the end of the Cold War.

It should come as no surprise to this Commission that the U.S. military has closed over 150 major bases across the Core since the end of the Cold War, while adding more than two dozen—and counting—inside the Gap. The U.S. military is the world's largest security consulting force, and like any consultancy, it needs to be as close as possible to where the client lives. Since the end of the Cold War, our clients are found almost exclusively inside the Gap, and hence our Defense Department has slowly but surely adjusted to that defining strategic reality of our age.

Now, the current-and-future administration proposes a further and far more dramatic overhauling of that global basing structure, and if you check the contours of my Non-Integrating Gap, you will see that this plan greatly conforms to the strategic security environment depicted here: in effect, all this administration is proposing is to move as many fixed bases as possible closer-in toward the Gap, while experimenting with a host of smaller, temporary-style installations (the so-called lily pads) sprinkled throughout the deeper, interior reaches of this Gap—most specifically in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a whole, I heartily approve of all of these moves to relocate the U.S. military's fixed presence and operational centers of gravity away from the past successes of the Cold War and nearer to the future challenges of this Global War on Terrorism, because I see this geographic rebalancing of the force to be a prime prerequisite for my declared strategy of "shrinking the Gap" by exporting security to the worst pockets of instability and rogue regime activity found therein. Without such a long-term commitment on our part, I would find it impossible to contemplate how many of these disconnected countries and regions would someday enjoy sufficient stability to count themselves members of a deeply integrating and secure global economy. And in my mind, that is what America's grand strategy for this century should be all about: making globalization truly global and ending the disconnectedness that defines the world's chronic sources of mass violence and armed conflicts, which--in turn-- breed transnational terrorists. If there is to be a finish line in this Global War on Terrorism, our progress toward it will be marked by a succession of basing realignments in the decades ahead.

That last statement constitutes the first of my caveats regarding this administration's current plans for realigning base structure globally: because I do not believe this historic round of proposed realignments will be our last, I caution national security planners to think as flexibly as possible about the nature of the new, seemingly long-term relationships we're currently building as we move bases from western Europe to eastern Europe, and from east Asia to west Asia.

Let me explain why I think such flexibility in planning is in order, and—by doing so—describe what I believe is truly flawed about the U.S. military's current Unified Command Plan. Specifically, let me describe what I think are the three key boundary conditions that limit Central Command's ability to conduct its share of the operations in this Global War on Terrorism.

First, CENTCOM’s "tactical seam" lies to its south, meaning that as the U.S. and its coalition partners are successful in driving transnational terrorism out of the Middle East, that fight—fueled as it is by a fundamentalist Islamic response to the "Westoxification" imposed upon traditional societies by globalization's creeping embrace—will head out of the Persian Gulf and into sub-Saharan Africa, where we already see the beginnings of such violent conflicts being repeated. So whatever realignments we pursue in coming years must take into account the possibility of that success in order to take advantage of its unfolding. In my mind that means that when we construct bases both around and inside the region of the Persian Gulf, we should view those facilities less as permanent features of the strategic landscape and more as the first step in what will be a long-term progression of military fronts deeper inside the Gap. What complicates this likely scenario pathway is—of course—the reality that CENTCOM's area of responsibility does not encompass sub-Saharan Africa (at least at this time).

Second, CENTCOM's "operational seam" lies to its north, meaning that a key indicator of our success in going on the offensive in this Global War on Terrorism is seen in the return today of the same pattern of operational reach for Middle East terror networks that we once witnessed in the 1970s and early 1980s—namely, they can strike at will across the Middle East and extend themselves with significant effort into the southern reaches of the European continent (expanding now to include the “near abroad” of the former Soviet Union—to Russia's significant distress). As in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, it can be said that CENTCOM simply does not talk nearly enough with these affected countries lying outside its area of responsibility. But, of course, many of these same countries are ones the U.S. is counting upon to supply it the "close-in" bases of the future. Over time, CENTCOM's area of responsibility will become the "near abroad" of virtually all of what I call the Functioning Core of globalization, so this war will be far less distant than we might imagine, even as we continue to be successful in our attempts to keep it far from our own shores. Thus, in our efforts to move bases closer in to the action of the Middle East, we'll need to be careful to avoid the impression that we're luring unsuspecting new partners into the fray, in effect causing them to draw fire.

Finally, CENTCOM's "strategic seam" clearly lies to its east. Already, Asia as a whole takes the lion's share of the energy coming out of the Persian Gulf, dwarfing what this country imports from the region. Our energy requirements will rise by less than a third over the next two decades, whereas Asia's will roughly double over the same time span. In short, we can expect India, China, a united Korea, and Japan to all come militarily to the Middle East in a much bigger way than their miniscule efforts to date. They will come either to join the growing security alliances our current efforts in the region will hopefully someday beget, or they will come to salvage what security relationships they can out of the strategic disaster we have generated by our mistakes. Either way, these Asian powers will be coming, because their economic interests will eventually compel it. My point is this: nothing we should do in this realignment process should be construed by any of these states as constituting a zero-sum strategy on our part to deny them military—much less economic—access to the region. If anything, our base realignment process should not only encourage stronger military ties with all of these states, but do so in such a way as to facilitate their eventual entry into the region under the conditions most conducive to our long-range objectives of transforming states there into stable members of a larger security community that will be—by definition of both geography and economic transactions—more Asian in character than Western.

Let me end with two final caveats: one general and one specific.

In my book I argue for a “back to the future” outcome in U.S. force structure planning, one that admits we already have a transformed warfighting force without peer, or what I call the Leviathan force, but also sees the need to invest in and transform what I call the “everything else” force, or a major portion of the U.S. military that is optimized progressively to conduct peacekeeping, low-level crisis response, humanitarian and disaster relief, nation-building and other postconflict stabilization operations. I dub this latter force the System Administrator force. Short-handing these two forces in terms of service components, I would describe the Leviathan force as coming primarily from the Air Force and Navy (our fundamental hedges against the resurrected possibility of great power war) and the SysAdmin force coming primarily from the Army and the Marines. My caveat regarding this natural bifurcation of the U.S. military is this: the bases we position around the Gap, but still inside the Core, should be optimized for the projection of warfighting power. In effect, they should serve the needs of the Leviathan force. Conversely, the bases we generate within the Gap should be optimized for the long-term presence of largely ground troops whose main activity will be centered around peacekeeping and nation-building.

This is an important point in my mind, because it’s counterintuitive to most analysts, who would prefer to see our bases circling the Gap serve as permanent forward deployments of massed combat force, whereas any bases we’d generate inside the Gap would remain largely empty store fronts, or Spartan-style facilities designed merely to enable the throughput of overwhelming force that would be employed only sporadically and always leave the scene as quickly as possible. In effect, I am arguing for the complete opposite: I think our forward bases surrounding the Gap should be the empty shells designed for the rapid throughput of warfighting assets, whereas the bases we build inside the Gap should give off the impression that we’re in it for the long haul. In my vernacular, the Leviathan force comes and goes as required, but the SysAdmin force represents those “boys” who never “come home.” If we are serious in committing ourselves to the long-term defeat of transnational terrorism, these are the strategic signals we should send in our global basing realignment process.

Finally, a more specific caveat: any efforts to move our forces closer-in toward the Gap will necessarily remain geographically uneven so long as two great insecurities grip East Asia—namely, the continued existence of the Kim Jong Il regime in North Korea and the potential for conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan's potential moves toward "independence" from the mainland. There is a huge Cold War victory to be advantaged in Europe, basically represented by the existence of NATO. No similar peace dividend exists in Asia, meaning that the Achilles' heel of this realignment plan is—in my opinion—that it leaves far too much strategic decision-making power in the hands of actors in both Pyongyang and Taipei, neither of which should be trusted to act rationally regarding their own interests—much less ours.

I'll end my comments on that frightening note, leaving any others for our subsequent question-and-answer period.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: barnett; military; nonintegratinggap; thomasbarnett; thomaspmbarnett
Thomas P.M. Barnett's website:

His book: The Pentagon's New Map    Buy hardcopy | Buy paperback

I read his articles before, and was glad to catch on C-SPAN his presentation and live call-in. C-SPAN is going to re-air it on Sunday, Dec. 26th @ 4pm ET

FreeRepublic discussions of Thomas P.M. Barnett's ideas:


1 posted on 12/23/2004 7:35:27 AM PST by Tolik
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To: Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; yonif; SJackson; dennisw; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...

War Strategy, very interesting!

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of good stuff that is worthy attention. I keep separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson, Lee Harris, David Warren, Orson Scott Card. You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about).

2 posted on 12/23/2004 7:37:19 AM PST by Tolik
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To: Tolik

I listened to his C-Span interview and PP presentation- it was superb. Anyone who is interested in the history and future of our military should make it a point to watch the re-run.

3 posted on 12/23/2004 7:38:37 AM PST by SE Mom (God Bless our troops.)
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To: Tolik

mark for future read

4 posted on 12/23/2004 8:02:32 AM PST by bayourod (Our troops are already securing our borders against terrorists. They're killing them in Iraq.)
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To: Tolik
The primary mission of the DoD MUST remain to fight and win wars.

I see no harm in examining ways to ADD force structure to perform the Nation Building / PeaceKeeping / Peace Enforcement mission, but any attempt to expand the EXISTING military force to accomplish these missions separate from combat operations, is doomed to failure.

Create a new, all inclusive and properly equipped branch of the DoD to perform the nation building mission - an Expeditionary Legion.

5 posted on 12/23/2004 8:09:45 AM PST by xsrdx (Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

not sure if you are already pinged?

6 posted on 12/23/2004 8:28:41 AM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Make all taxes truly voluntary)
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To: Tolik

I've watched this globalist clintonoid on several occasions. He is a highly-educated idiot with a poor understanding of history.

7 posted on 12/23/2004 9:35:12 AM PST by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are truly evil.)
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To: xsrdx

Create a new, all inclusive and properly equipped branch of the DoD to perform the nation building mission - an Expeditionary Legion

That's pretty much his point (as I understand it). IE. civil affairs, MP, type of units.

8 posted on 12/23/2004 9:53:17 AM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: Tolik

Thanks for the ping. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

9 posted on 12/23/2004 9:56:23 AM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; King Prout; ..

From time to time, I’ll post or ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

Merry Christmas!

10 posted on 12/23/2004 10:01:19 AM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem; Grampa Dave

Should be interesting. Bumping for later.

11 posted on 12/23/2004 10:05:54 AM PST by risk
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To: Valin
That's pretty much his point (as I understand it).

The way I read it, he's proposing realigning the entirety of the present DoD to better suit what he sees as the majority of our future responsibility, vs. maintaining a distinct, robust warfighting-only DoD.

Semantics perhaps, but any effort to further dilute the combat focus of the present DoD is misguided.

12 posted on 12/23/2004 12:27:04 PM PST by xsrdx (Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas)
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To: SE Mom; Tolik

I saw the presentation, it was certainly high tech with strange sounds.....etc.

What he says makes sense though!

13 posted on 12/23/2004 12:40:04 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: Libertarianize the GOP

Thanks for the ping, I wasn't on these lists...

14 posted on 12/23/2004 12:41:44 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: neverdem

Merry Christmas, ND. Thanks for the ping, I am finally getting to it ;)

No rest for the wicked.


Criminal Number 18F

15 posted on 12/25/2004 7:58:24 AM PST by Criminal Number 18F
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