Posts Tagged ‘ForceStructure’

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.)

USMC Battling for the Future: In QDR, Corps Presses Case for Missions, Systems

Vago Muradian and Kris Osborn. Defense News, 28 September 2009.

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.

OSD Considers Chopping Flattop

Greg Grant. DoD Buzz, 26 August 2009.

Editor’s comment

The Project on Defense Alternatives recommended in 2007 reducing the carrier fleet by two saying “reform along these lines would allow a 9-carrier, 8-wing fleet to surge ‘five plus one’ for crisis response. In 2010, these six carriers, fully utilized and equipped with weapons now being fielded or procured, should be able to strike well over twice as many targets per day as the five that deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

QDR Watch: Army Force Structure

Colin Clark. DoDBuzz, 04 August 2009.

Shaping the Future: Gates Emphasizes Balance, Preparing for Most Likely Conflict Scenarios

John T. Bennett. Defense News, 3 August 2009.


Barry Posen, director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said “recasting all your forces for these ‘new operations’ isn’t so smart … especially considering no one wants to do another Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Posen sees a new force-planning construct that centers on “one MCO, one endless counterinsurgency operation, and then all the other things [the administration] will want the military to do.” Under such a scenario, Posen said, “you would probably work it so you could ramp up for another MCO, if something popped up.”

QDR to Recommend Dedicated COIN Air Wings

John Noonan. Weekly Standard blog, 26 July 2009.

Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress

Ronald O’Rourke. Congressional Research Service, 09 July 2009. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute server (printable .pdf file).