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WASHINGTON — The military won’t completely abandon its long-held two-war strategy for force planning, but officials are shifting to a broader strategy with many smaller fighting forces around the globe, a top Pentagon policy planner said Tuesday.

David Ochmanek, deputy assistant defense secretary for force development, said that the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review will include a greater focus on “a flexible force that can engage across the full spectrum of challenges, across multiple places at once.”

Since World War II, all military preparations have been centered on the concept of the force being able to fight two separate major conflicts while still retaining the ability to protect the U.S.

Earlier this month, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine Gen. James Cartwright told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the QDR would move away from that strategy in favor of “one that is acknowledging of the fact that we are not in that type of conflict” and preparing for future fights similar to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ochmanek softened that stance, saying officials involved in the four-year defense review are confident that, even with the changes, the military will be able to fight two major wars.

“There’s very much a desire to keep something like a two-war or multiengagement capacity in the force,” he said. “It’s comparable, but not identical.

“We believe the future security environment, whether we like it or not, is going to be more challenging, more messy, more hybrid, more characterized by a mix of adversaries than the old familiar two-war construct.”

He called the two-war strategy a “bumper sticker” answer that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has criticized as an oversimplification of security threats. Still, he added, if the U.S. were forced into a fight in North Korea and Iran simultaneously tomorrow, the services would be prepared and trained for that worst-case scenario. Changes in the wording and theory behind the review won’t change that.

Ochmanek said the 2010 QDR, due to Congress early next year, will feature a greater focus on expeditionary demands on the future military and will focus on threats like cybersecurity and nuclear security.


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