In a major shift in strategy, the Pentagon now says in the 71-page Quadrennial Defense Review, released Monday, the highest priority of the U.S. military is homeland defense - not fighting overseas.
Although the review was largely written before September 11, the devastating terrorist suicide attacks on New York and Washington that day have served to underscore the study's emphasis on homeland defense.
It says that as the U.S. armed forces in the past increased their ability to project power at long range, adversaries detected what the document terms "the relative vulnerability" of the United States itself.
Now, it says, domestic defenses against both known and emerging threats must be developed and enhanced together with new approaches to achieving early warning of potential dangers.
While the document restores emphasis to defending the United States and its land, sea, air and space approaches, it also underlines the importance of denying enemies sanctuary even in remote parts of the world.
It calls for a boost in investments in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance initiatives, while at the same time underscoring the need for special operations forces able to conduct what are termed "covert deep insertions over great distances."
Despite this, in a foreword to the report, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says authorities cannot always know precisely where and when America's interests will be threatened. He said, "we should try mightily to avoid surprise, but we must also learn to expect it."
The report was released the same day that General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the U.S. armed forces, stepped down.
At a retirement ceremony outside Washington, General Shelton noted President Bush's recent call to troops to be prepared for action in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said he was proud to report the military is ready.