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Feature Archive

Featured in Issue 08:01

Preparing for QDR 2010

Strengthening the Next QDR (2010) Through Timely and Relevant Analysis, MORS Workshop, January 12-15, 2009
Terms of Reference, Military Operations Research Society (MORS), 09 October 2008.


Working Groups

The five Working Groups (and Chairs) are:

  1. Dealing with Islamic Extremism (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond) – Mike Baranick (NDU) - Purpose: Identify/compile viable strategies for dealing with Islamic extremist challenges as well as evidence from the MORS community as to what USG (and allied) resources and capabilities (mix, level) could help/suffice to implement the strategies.
  2. Countering WMD Proliferation – Pat McKenna (STRATCOM) - Purpose: Identify strategies for countering WMD proliferation, and capabilities/ resources to implement strategies.
  3. Providing for Homeland Security/Defense - Dr. Jerry Diaz (HSI) - Purpose: Examine the analytic seams between the Homeland Defense and Homeland Security mission spaces. Identify those key areas that are likely to be of concern in both the 20010 QDR and 2009 QHSR.
  4. Dealing with a Peer Competitor - Trip Barber (Navy) - [This working group will be held at the SECRET (NOFORN) level.] - Purpose: Identify strategy options for Dealing with a Peer Competitor, and assess how to implement them.
  5. Integration/Strategy (Balancing Strategy and Capabilities) - Dr. Jim Thomason (IDA) - Purpose: Identify viable strategy]capability balancing approach (es) for the upcoming QDR; identify promising candidates for post]QDR development/implementation

Featured in Issue 07:01

The Strategic Usefulness of Larger Ground Forces - the debate

A Strategic Rationale for Land Force Expansion
Frank G. Hoffman. Foreign Policy Research Institute, March 2007.

No Good Reason to Boost Army, Marine Corps End Strength
Carl Conetta. Project on Defense Alternatives, 31 January 2007.

Is Worry about Pakistani Nukes Serving to Keep the U.S. in Iraq? - a comment on Kagan & O'Hanlon's "The Case for Larger Ground Forces"
Charles Knight. Project on Defense Alternatives, July 2007.

The Problem with Expanding the U.S. Military
Gordon Adams. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 01 May 2007.

Featured in Issue 06:01

QDR 2006:  Do The Forces Match the Missions?  DOD Gives Little Reason to Believe
Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Memo #36, 10 February 2006. (printable .pdf file)

Quadrennial Defense Review 2006
Office of the Secretary of Defense, 06 February 2006 (printable .pdf file).

Fighting on all fronts
Jim Lobe. Asia Times, 09 February 2006.

The Long War
William S. Lind., 09 February 2006.

Pentagon Plans for 'Long War' on Extremism
Mark Mazzetti. Los Angeles Times, 04 February 2006.

Rumsfeld Surrenders:  The QDR Dashes his Dreams of Military Transformation
Fred Kaplan. Slate, 03 February 2006.

Address at the National Press Club ("The Long War")
Donald H. Rumsfeld. 02 February 2006.

Featured in Issue 05:01

Linking National Strategy to Operational Level

Strategy: Foundation for all major processes

-- select slides from National Military Strategy
by Jeff Hesterman. Presentation to the Precision Strike Association, January 2005. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute website (large PowerPoint file).

The slides above provide insight into how the author who is the chief of the Strategy Division of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon sees the relationship between the National Security Strategy and joint operations at the warfighting level. It also provides graphic illustration of the level of government and bureaucracy most influential in the articulation of strategy, operational concepts, and plans.

Two Viewpoints of the upcoming 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review

Pentagon Reaffirms Globocop Role
Jim Lobe. 22 March 2005. Posted on the website.

Principles for the Next Quadrennial Defense Review
Jack Spencer. Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum #954, 15 December 2004.

Featured in Issue 04:01

Restructuring the Force - US Army

Army Way Ahead
-- select slides from Building Army Capabilities, draft U.S. Army PowerPoint briefing, not classified, 28 January 2004 (.ppt file, 2MB). Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

This is a draft of the briefing by the U.S. Army for the National Command Authority referred to by Secretary Rumsfeld in his testimony to Congress on 4 February 2004. It deals with plans for the next five years to use a combination of wartime and Congressional authority to increase the size of the active component Army and decrease and reorganize the reserve component Army toward the goal of a "brigade based" modular Army better suited for the "GWOT".

The briefing includes specification by type, number, and timeline of increases in brigades and Army endstrength; a price tag of $20 billion for fifteen additional brigades; charts of mobilization times for different type and size of units; number and type of new units to be stood up in the active component; a chart of the ground force rotation plan for OIF and OEF through February 2005; and the mention of an "option to cancel Stop Loss" in FY06.

Featured in Issue 02:02

Four Reviews of President Bush's National Security Strategy:

The New National Security Strategy and Preemption
Michael E. O'Hanlon, Susan E. Rice, and James B. Steinberg. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #113, December 2002.

Bush's Grand Strategy
Andrew J. Bachevich. The American Conservative (04 November 2002) (.pdf file). Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

A Grand Strategy of Transformation
John Lewis Gaddis. Foreign Policy (November/December 2002).

Essential Elements Missing in the National Security Strategy of 2002
Charles Knight. Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute Project on Defense Alternatives Commentary, November 2002 (a .pdf version is available.)

Featured in Issue 02:01

1. The National Security Strategy of the United States
The White House, 18 September 2002 (.pdf file).
Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

2. Essential Elements Missing in the National Security Strategy of 2002
Charles Knight. Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute Project on Defense Alternatives Commentary, November 2002 (.pdf file).

3. Bush's Grand Strategy
Andrew J. Bachevich. The American Conservative, 04 November 2002 (.pdf file).
Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

4. The Pentagon's New Budget, New Strategy, and New War
Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute Project on Defense Alternatives, 25 June 2002.

           (Section 4)  The new Quadrennial Defense Review

On 30 September 2001 the Bush administration released the congressionally-mandated 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (henceforth, ODR-01). Mandated by congress, these four-year reviews are supposed to specify US military strategy and show how it relates to budgets and plans regarding force posture, modernization, readiness, personnel, and infrastructure. As noted above, the direction of Bush defense policy and budgeting had been a subject of intense debate during the months preceding release of the new QDR. But when the document finally saw light of day -- just a few weeks after the terror attacks and on the eve of war -- it gained relatively little attention. Commentators noted that the administration had deferred or avoided most of the hard choices that had animated discussion during the summer. In fact, the war had obviated these choices. But the document did signal a critical shift in US defense strategy and policy. And its implications would soon become obvious in Operation Enduring Freedom and the "war against terrorism."

The new QDR establishes four functional goals for America's armed forces (QDR-01, p. iii-iv):

  • Assuring allies and friends;
  • Dissuading future military competition;
  • Deterring threats and coercion against U.S. interests; and
  • Decisively defeating any adversary, should deterrence fail.

These imperatives fit neatly within those outlined in the previous QDR, although the language is more traditional. The 1997 QDR had set three fundamental tasks for America's military: to shape the strategic environment in ways that advanced US interests, to respond to the full spectrum of threats, and to prepare now for the dangers of tomorrow. In this formulation, the "respond" imperative encompassed warfighting tasks and crisis deterrence (among other things). The "shape" imperative encompassed dissuasion, reassurance, and routine deterrence as well as a variety of peacetime engagement activities.

The new QDR also establishes what it calls "strategic tenets". These define activities that are supposed to enable the services to fulfil their strategic functions. Several of these tenets -- such as "military transformation" and "developing a broad portfolio of military capabilities" -- correspond to the 1997 QDR's injunction to "prepare now" for future threats.

One critical difference is that the new QDR puts a distinctive emphasis on warfighting and warfighting capabilities -- much as was the case during the Reagan and first Bush administration. With regard to America's wars, it goes further, bringing maximum war objectives to the fore. Beyond seeking decisive victory, it aims for the decisive defeat of adversaries. This it defines quite ambitiously in terms of "changing the regime of an adversary state" and occupying "foreign territory until U.S. strategic objectives are met." (QDR-01, p. 13.)

Also significant is what the new QDR does not say in defining the purposes of US military power. In the 1997 QDR the "respond" imperative included being able to conduct a variety of smaller-scale contingency operations and "operations other than war". Although the new QDR recognizes that America's armed forces will conduct such operations, it does not specify their nature or purpose, devoting only two paragraphs to them. (QDR-01, p. 21.) Unlike the 1997 document, QDR-01 makes no reference at all to peacekeeping, peace enforcement, the enforcement of sanctions, preventative deployments, disaster relief, or humanitarian operations.

Continue with full text

Featured in Issue 01:03

1. The Quadrennial Defense Review 2001
Office of the Secretary of Defense, 30 September 2001, (.pdf file).
Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

2. Guidance and Terms for Reference for the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review
Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, 22 June 2001, "classified contents removed", (.pdf file).
Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website.

4. A New US Military Strategy: Issues and Options
Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute Project on Defense Alternatives, 21 May 2001.

The purpose of defense reviews is to specify US military strategy and its implications for force structure, military modernization, readiness, sustainment, and infrastructure. The reviews are supposed to provide the links between strategy, policy, and budgets.

JCS Chairman Gen. Henry H. Shelton, among others, has urged that the new review put strategy rather than budgets in the driver's seat. But this is a false dichotomy. If strategy is anything, it is the process of relating competing ends and scarce means. Strategy is about mapping a route to a goal through a field of constraints, including budgetary ones. When strategy fails to do this, it fails as strategy -- and should be changed.

Because strategy affects almost all aspects of policy, the institutional resistance to change can be stubborn. The 1997 National Defense Panel speculated that the two-war strategy, for instance, had become "a force-protection mechanism -- a means of justifying the current force structure."

Another indicator of institutional inertia is how little the distribution of people and money among the services has changed since the Cold War ended. Re-arranging just four percent of today's personnel and two percent of today's budgets would reproduce exactly the resource distribution of the 1980s.

Go to full text

Featured in Issue 01:02

The Rumsfeld / Marshall Review and the Quadrennial Defense Review 2001

As 2001 began, QDR preparation teams, panels, and task forces in the Pentagon were two-thirds of the way through a twenty month development process for the QDR 2001. As a matter of course the Joint Staff would expect a new administration to provide new defense strategy and posture guidance; However, they were no doubt somewhat alarmed in early February when SecDef Rumsfeld announced a "top-to-bottom" review of strategy and force posture to be directed by senior Pentagon analyst Andrew Marshall. Rumsfeld's move sent a strong signal that the civilians would be taking back the initiative on defense policy and that parochial service interests would be less dominant in this review cycle.

This does not mean that the Rumsfeld/Marshall review will substitute for the QDR. Most knowledgable observers still expect the QDR to go forward, with publication in late September. Rather the Rumsfeld/Marshall review will serve as "strong guidance" to those drafting the QDR. As one observer remarked, "A lot of what the QDR task forces do is to develop the metrics for the budgeting process. The new Administration's policy guidance will depend on those metrics in order to detail a coherent plan and budget for FY2003."

On the other hand, Pentagon briefer Rear Admiral Craig Quigley gave an indication on March 27th that the Rumsfeld/Marshall review may be ongoing for months to come. He said, " will be kind of a rolling result [with] some of the efforts...done earlier that the others, particularly if you need impacted by the fiscal year '02 budget. If it is something that does not need money in fiscal year '02, you could perhaps wait." This suggests that the Rumsfeld/Marshall review will proceed along side of the QDR and may continue after the QDR is completed.

How closely the final QDR document follows Rumsfeld's Spring 2001 guidance will depend on factors that will play out in the months to come. The services can be expected to resist any aspect of the review guidance that reduces their service's share of the budget, that trims away significant force structure, or that cuts prized weapon platforms. Tradition and culture might also produce resistance to certain initiatives, such as a guidance to the Air Force for accelerated transition to unmanned combat platforms. Congress will join in the fray, vigorously bargaining to keep alive systems Rumsfeld proposes to cut.

How much the Administration gives back to these potentially aggrieved constituencies will in turn depend on what fiscal realities emerge later in the year:

  • Has President Bush achieved most of his tax cut objectives (clearly his highest budgetary priority)? Or has he had the tax cut significantly trimmed by Congress?
  • Is the economy in a "temporary slowdown" or headed into a prolonged recession, mild or severe?

The answers to these presently open questions could mean changes in the projections of Federal budget surpluses totalling many hundreds of billions. If by September of 2001 there is the perception of fiscal "plenty", as was the case in 2000, then conflicting views and interests can be smoothed over with money. If, on the other hand, the surplus appears to be fast evaporating, then the Administration may feel compelled to push for implementation of the fuller, more radical, cost-saving aspects of the reforms included in the Rumsfeld/Marshall guidance. With the Rumsfeld/Marshall review the Administration has gained not only policy initiative, but also "decision space" in which to make adjustments according to how events develop in the coming months.

Sources and Background on the Rumsfeld / Marshall Review:

"Rumsfeld in Full Retreat"
William M. Arkin., 04 June 2001.


"Military blueprint to set big changes"
Rowan Scarborough. Washington Times, 2 April 2001.

Rumsfeld Stumbles
William M. Arkin., 26 March 2001.

"Rumsfeld Outlines Defense Overhaul"
Thomas E. Ricks. Washington Post, 23 March 2001.

Tax Cut Proposal May Make Substantial Defense Budget Increase Difficult
Steven M. Kosiak. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 28 February 2001.

The Dubious Genius of Andrew Marshall
Jason Vest. The American Prospect Online, 15 February 2001.

Rumsfeld Details DoD Goals, Objectives in Testimony
Jim Garamone. American Forces Press Service, 12 January 2001.

The Paradoxes of post-Cold War US Defense Policy: An Agenda for the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review
Project on Defense Alternatives. Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute, 5 February 2001.

It is remarkable that a decade that began as the 1990s did -- with the conclusion of the Cold War -- should end as the 1990s has ended: with defense spending again on the rise and Cold War security concepts, institutions, and practices enjoying a renaissance of sorts. As the Pentagon begins in earnest to prepare the second Quadrennial Defense Review, defense managers have focused their attention on military readiness issues and the challenge of modernizing or "re-capitalizing" the US military. Within the Washington defense policy community there is a near consensus on one proposition, if no others: the solution to the problems of readiness and modernization involve increased defense spending. But if the QDR process is to be true to its purpose, decision-makers should pause before dipping the budget ladle, step back, and reconsider today's problems in light of the profound geostrategic changes of the past decade. Never has our nation and its allies enjoyed so much relative strength and influence. At no point in the past hundred years has the potential for general conflagration been so low. So what is the source of our difficulties? How can peace be so expensive?

Given some perspective, the recent difficulties in US defense policy seem more like paradoxes than garden-variety "problems." From a distance, the stated military readiness and modernization needs of our nation are not so much "challenging" as they are "bewildering". This suggests that today's problems have been improperly framed or defined; we are treating them at the wrong level of policy. A common conceit is that our military suffers a severe "strategy-budget" mismatch and that what we need to do is to put strategy in the driver's seat. We might more profitably re-examine the security goals that motivate our strategy, the strategy itself, and the nature and mix of the instruments that the strategy has at its disposal. This back-to-the-drawing-board agenda best suits the purpose of QDRs.

The QDR debate should begin not by addressing narrowly-defined "problems", but by confronting the persistent paradoxes of post-Cold War US defense policy.

Go to full text.

Featured in Issue 01:01

-- selected slides from Emmitt Gibson, Quadrennial Defense Review: Joint Staff Road Ahead, a presentation to the JS QDR Preparation Group Planning Meeting, 2 March 2000. Posted on Marine Forces Pacific (USMC) Website.

Editor's Comment: Since early in 2000 Joint Staff panels have been preparing for the next QDR. The above Preparation Group briefing slides give insight into the structure of the panels and into the key issues the Joint Staff had identified early in the QDR formulation process.

It is noteworthy that one lead panel, the Force Generation, Capability, and Structure Panel, is itself supported by four panels while the Transformation, Innovation, and Joint Experimentation Panel is fed by only one supporting panel. In turn, the Force Generation, Capability, and Structure Panel feeds into the integration process at two points: the Requirements Integration Group and the Force Structure Integration Group. The Transformation, Innovation, and Joint Experimentation Panel feeds only the Warfighting Concepts Integration Group.

What is the implication of this structure for the review process which separates the Transformation/Innovation track from the Force Capabilities/Structure track? One possibility is that the review process will systematically undervalue the potential for resolving strategic mobility, modernization affordability, and readiness problems through reorganization of the forces along "information age" lines -- in other words, deep reform of force structure. Newly available communication/information technologies offer the opportunity to increase flexibility, responsiveness, and speed of decision making while allowing elimination of layers of headquarters and flattening of hierarchies. The greatest added value of emerging technologies for the military may well be the increasing empowerment of subordinate levels of structure, making possible much greater operational agility with fewer troops under simplified lines of communication and decentralized control.

Of course, process alone does not determine outcomes and time will tell whether the 2001 QDR will call for substantial force structure reform. Nevertheless, the glimpse provided above of the initial organization of the Joint Staff QDR panels and integration process suggests that there has been little change in the Joint Staff approach to policy reviews since 1997 when the first QDR avoided any substantial reform of force structure.

For an innovative and well-articulated proposal for Army transformation see:
Concepts for Transformation from Breaking the Phalanx
Douglas A. Macgregor. Briefing for the Raytheon Corporation, Dallas, TX, 19 February 2001
PowerPoint Presentation - 3.8 MB (free PowerPoint Viewer)

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