A somewhat tense discussion ensued at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week when lawmakers questioned two key architects of the Quadrennial Defense Review. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Ranking Member Howard McKeon (R-CA) pressed Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, the Joint Staff's director for force structure, resources and assessment, for details about the new scenario approach underlying the Defense Department's force-sizing model.
The conversation turned to the possibility of a large-scale war breaking out on the Korean peninsula.
MS. FLOURNOY: We did look at that kind of scenario. And while I don't want to get into classified details in this setting, what I can say to you is that in many of those cases we found that a lot of the U.S. contribution would be heavy air and naval-intensive. And there was certainly adequate flex in our forces to provide that assistance to allies on the ground who were engaged. . . .
REP. SKELTON: It sounds like you're not going to put boots on the ground, but rely on the Navy and the Air Force in such a situation. Is that the case?
ADM. STANLEY: Again, we did three cases. Each case had different combinations of scenarios in them. So it's not three scenarios. It's three separate scenario cases that include multiple scenarios. Was Korea part of it? Yes. Okay, do we put boots on the ground in Korea? Yes. The forces --
REP. MCKEON: More than we have there right now?
ADM. STANLEY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Where would U.S. forces come from if said war was to break out tomorrow, given that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are tying up a lot of resources? Stanley gave this response:
Another operation in the near term the size of a Korea would require the nation to mobilize. Okay, it would take away our ability to rotate the forces even as little as we are now, one to one. Would we still prevail? Yes. Would there be increased losses? Yes.
The two witnesses agreed to give lawmakers classified briefings with details about DOD's scenario approach.