The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review: A+, F, or Dead on Arrival?

Anthony H. Cordesman & Erin K. Fitzgerald. CSIS, 27 August 2009 (Working Draft)


… the legacy of interrelated problems raises serious questions as to whether the next QDR will be more meaningful than its predecessors in creating a strategy that actually shapes US forces, procurements, and readiness. The 2010 QDR has the potential to be the next step in the reform process and to institutionalize the reforms Gates initiated with his budget cuts.

It is unclear the extent to which it will realize its potential, given the scale needed to make meaningful decisions, create an affordable force posture, fund credible levels of manpower, fully restructure DOD’s failed procurement plans, and deal with the real world cost and impact of the two ongoing wars.

The search for answers is being structured around the concept of “hybrid warfare,” which requires the broadest possible range of force capabilities and flexibilities across the spectrum of operations. Hybrid warfare may be an intellectual improvement over the emphasis on conventional warfighting in past reviews, but so far the concept is so loosely defined, that it does not provide clear criteria for decision-making. Service efforts to define it have so far been little more that shopping lists for every possible contingency mixed with buzzwords that appear to have meaning only as long as they are no examined in any detail. In practice, any concept that effectively justifies anything ends in justifying absolutely nothing.

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