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Deputy Defense Secretary Lynn on Evolving Threat Landscape, Uncertain Budget

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn, Photo: Defense.gov

The threat landscape faced by the Defense Department is rapidly shifting, even as the Pentagon navigates uncertain budget waters, Deputy Defense William J. Lynn III said this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Security Forum.

First, Lynn made clear DoD would have a role to play in federal deficit-reduction efforts.

“Since 9/11, we have had the ability to address new defense challenges with increased resources,” he said, according to an American Forces Press Service Report. “We will not have that luxury for the foreseeable future.”

However, it’s clear the threat landscape is evolving.

Lynn pointed to three broad areas that will mold the future national security environment: The increased access to “lethality across the threat spectrum,” longer-duration warfare and the pervasiveness of asymmetric threats.

“They are each, in different ways, the result of our entry into a new era of war, one driven primarily by the overlay of the information age atop the industrial and atomic revolutions,” he said. “They can and they must inform our defense planning. What we need to do at this juncture — in this fiscal environment — is to take the long view about what strategic trends are important.”

And even as he described the latest philosophical outlook underpinning the department’s strategy, Lynn said one hallmark of the current era is a need for constant redefinition and evolution.

“We need to invest in the right capabilities and force structure that address the trends in warfare, …  and we need to relentlessly adapt our technology and our doctrine as threats evolve and mature,” he said. “If we do these things, we will ensure our forces are ready for the future of war.”

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