21st Century Security Environment: An Era Of Uncertainty And Unpredictability

The Security Environment - Chart

Enlarge Image :: Figure 3

In the five years since 9-11, the international security environment has become increasingly dangerous.  Military commitments – requiring ground and Special Operations Forces – have increased on a global scale.  Sustained levels of force deployment have stressed our Soldiers, their equipment, and the institutions that generate them.  The likelihood of sustained strategic demand for Army forces underscores the need to improve our readiness for both current and future challenges.

We need sustained support and timely, predictable funding to keep requirements and resources in balance – in the face of growing threats to the Nation. We will continue to conduct operations to prevail in the war on terror and to execute a range of initiatives designed to improve our strategic posture to deal with the challenges we will face. 

We are increasing our capabilities to deal with the challenges we face today.  In light of the clearly foreseeable challenges now emerging, we must accelerate our preparation for those we will face tomorrow.  We remain steadfast in our determination to:

Recent decisions to expand the size of U.S. ground forces reflect clear recognition on the part of the President, the Congress, and the Secretary of Defense of the dangers America faces, the importance of our mission, the central role that ground forces will perform to defend the Nation, and the stress that our All-Volunteer force is weathering.  

This decision puts us on a path to greatly enhance the depth and breadth of Army capabilities, yet will require several years, considerable resources, and a sustained national commitment to bring to fruition.  Over time, this decision will alleviate strategic risk.  To implement the changes required to prepare for the future, while continuing our current pace of operations, we require timely, sufficient resources, and rapid implementation of policies designed to assure recurrent, predictable access to all of our components.

Complexity and Uncertainty

The National Defense Strategy identifies an array of traditional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive challenges that pose distinct threats to our Nation (Figure 3).  These threats are growing increasingly more complex due to: 

We will be confronted with increasing threats posed by a growing number of transnational organizations and movements, who will wage irregular warfare.  We will continue to face threats, posed by nation-states that will involve large scale conventional military forces in more regular forms of warfare. 

Fueled by ideologies that oppose our Nation’s bedrock values, extremist groups like al-Qaeda and other enemies, supported by the states and groups who sponsor them, are committed to reducing America’s global presence – and to destroying American society. They will seek to oppose the United States asymmetrically – by employing terror, information warfare, and the most deadly, casualty-producing weapons available.  Al-Qaeda’s goal is clear:  to gain control in the Islamic world by establishing a unified caliphate, stretching from North Africa to Indonesia, and to expand its influence well beyond these regions. 

Enemies like al-Qaeda are ruthless, unconstrained, and expert in distorting and exploiting the power of religion to further their ends.  Ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere reflect the tough challenges involved in confronting savage, extremist adversaries in highly complex environments.Increasing Army Capabilities to Dominate in Complex Environments
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 We are fighting smart, adaptive opponents who are leveraging the opportunities presented by globalization to conduct brutal, indiscriminate, and unprecedented attacks. 

These adversaries will be neither deterred by nuclear or conventional forces nor defeated in battles with decisive outcomes.  Previous concepts for intelligence and warning do not adequately address the threats we now face.  To prevail in this struggle, the Nation must remain vigilant, improve interagency cooperation, and employ all instruments of national power – diplomatic, informational, military, and economic – in a rapid, concerted, and fully integrated manner. 

Military conflict will be waged increasingly in the human dimension – which underscores the need to be able to directly confront, to defeat, or to otherwise influence adversaries on the ground.  This need can only be met with “boots on the ground,” as U.S. ground forces have demonstrated so vividly since 9-11.  Ground forces, able to conduct sustained operations, will be required to counter the spread of radical ideologies, to influence people, and to bring order and stability to troubled areas.

The security environment in which our Soldiers will operate is becoming increasingly uncertain and unpredictable.  Their environment will be influenced by:


Competing Fiscal Priorities

The Army will remain engaged around the globe, while operating in a constrained fiscal environment.  This will continue to limit the resources available for both current and future challenges.

DoD Outlays as a Percentage of U.S. GDP

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National Budget Trends

The Office of the Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, projects 2007 Defense spending will be 3.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), continuing a downward trend (Figure 4).  Defense resources have not kept pace with growth in GDP.  GDP increased over 300 percent between 1968 and 2005, from $3.7 to $11 trillion.  Defense spending, however, increased only 62 percent, from $358 to $523 billion.







Defense Budget by Allocation by Service

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Defense Budget Trends

The allocation of Defense resources has changed little over time (Figure 5), despite changes in the focus and emphasis of the National Defense Strategy.  Today, while providing the largest number of forces for the war on terror, the Army receives the smallest share of programmed Defense resources.  The Army is the most manpower intensive Service.  Unlike the other Departments, who are able to reduce manpower to offset rising personnel costs, the Army must add Soldiers to meet its commitments.  Rising fuel, health care, and other costs – on top of steadily increasing costs to man the force – will continue to erode the Army’s purchasing power.






Comparison of Service Budgets - Chart

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Army Budget Trends

The bulk of the Army’s funds are committed to sustaining people, maintaining vital infrastructure, and preparing equipment for combat deployment.  People accounts – including salaries for Soldiers and Army Civilians as well as the labor costs incurred in contracts and in procurement – amount to more than 80 percent of the Army’s budget. . As a result, our ability to fund investment accounts today is extremely limited (Figure 6) – and has diminished steadily over time. In 1984, for example, procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation amounted to 31 percent of the Army’s budget, which by 2005 had diminished to only 17.5 percent.  Caused in large part by rising manpower costs – to attract, to retain, and to provide for a competitive quality of life for an increasingly married force – this trend is indicative of the Army’s continuing tension between current and future demands.  





Defense Investment (FY90-06) - Chart

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Army Investment Trends

Since 1990, the Army’s share of investment dollars has been considerably smaller than that of the other Departments (Figure 7).  The Army has received less than one-fifth, while the other Departments have each received approximately one-third.  Consequently, the Army has been unable to invest in the capabilities needed to sustain a rising operational tempo and to prepare for emerging threats.  Supplemental funds have enabled the Army to replace essential weapons and equipment lost or worn out during battle.  They have sustained our capability to meet the operational demands of the war on terror. Supplemental funds have not, however, enabled the research and procurement required to be prepared for the future.


Implications for the Army

The implications of the 21st Century security environment for the Army are clear:


To remain relevant to the threats now clearly emerging, we must continue to “shift our weight” from our traditional focus to become moreversatile across the full range of irregular, disruptive, and catastrophic challenges we will face.  We must accelerate the ongoing adaptation of our leader developmentReview of Education, Training and Assignment for Leaders
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, training, and modernization programsThe Army Modernization Plan
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, which is already well under way. Likewise, we must also continue our efforts to improve our strategic responsiveness and agility – as well as the overall effectiveness of our Operating and Generating Forces.  In addition, we must continue our initiatives to create improvements in critical areas which include: 

Building the capabilities required to execute the full spectrum of likely operations amidst increasing threats to the Nation will require prudent investment today.  This level of investment  must be sustained at predictable levels over time to reduce risk for our Soldiers, the Army, the Joint Team, and the Nation. 

Investing in defense in this manner would reflect a significant departure from historic patterns of spending – that have resulted in corresponding cycles of unpreparedness – which have increased America’s vulnerability at the outset of the major conflicts of the 20th Century and those occurring in the early stages of the 21st Century.

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