Waiting Game

By Sebastian Sprenger / November 6, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon officials are still working on a study of the requirements for U.S. trainers of foreign security forces that was slated for completion in the spring. The study, overseen by Celeste Ward, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations capabilities, last year set out to examine exactly how many forces the worldwide combatant commanders need for what officials call “train/advise/assist” missions in their areas of responsibility.

In an interview last December, Ward projected the study would be completed in the spring -- in time to influence the long-term spending plan beginning in fiscal year 2010.

Since then, few details have emerged about where the study is heading or what its results are.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Robert Mehal told us recently the study is indeed still ongoing, adding he “wouldn't even want to speculate” when it might be completed.

If and when study members reach their conclusions, and if the Pentagon leaders of President-elect Barack Obama opt to consider them, the numbers could influence force structure decisions aimed at configuring the ground forces for irregular warfare and stabilization operations, according to experts.