A clear and present danger: QDR must recognize need for two-war construct

Mackenzie Eaglen and Jim Talent. Armed Forces Journal, October 2009.

Editor’s Comment: Before launching into their polemic calling for even more investments in the military sector (on top of 40+% real growth in the last decade for the Pentagon base budget) Eaglen and Talent usefully point out that the forthcoming QDR is, in a formal sense, based on the last Bush administration National Security Strategy, now three years old.

Logically, if the QDR is to serve as an expression of how military planning, program and posture align with national security and defense strategy, then our current schedule for the production of these documents is seriously out of sync with political cycles. It is reasonable to expect that an incoming administration, such as Obama’s, might require eighteen months to review and craft a revision of the National Security Strategy.

Starting with a revised National Security Strategy (The White House) appearing in June 2011 a schedule for the derivative documents might then be:

National Defense Strategy (SecDef’s office) – January 2012
National Military Strategy (Joint Chiefs) – June 2012
Quadrennial Defense Review (SecDef’s office) – June 2012

Note the logic of this sequencing: The White House sets any considered changes in the broad strategy (the National Security Strategy) eighteen months after coming into office. The Secretary of Defense then leads the process of determining and announcing six months later refinements to the National Defense Strategy. The Joint Chiefs have six additional months to refine their National Military Strategy document which is published the same month as the DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review (which puts the strategy, defense planning/posture and budget all together.)

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