Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) should be quite different from
past reports because of the unique conditions under which it is
being conducted. By applying lessons learned from recent
operations, new analytical tools, and strong, experienced
leadership, the 2005 QDR has the opportunity to yield a report that
will provide relevant guidance for years to come. At a recent
Heritage Foundation conference, the Honorable Ryan Henry,
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, outlined the Department of
Defense's strategic thinking and approach to prepare the 2005 QDR
and embrace a historic opportunity to determine the Department of
Defense's capacity to change.
Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have provided numerous
strategic and operational "lessons learned" that will contribute to
the effectiveness of the next QDR. Similar to past shifts in
defense thinking, such as in the 1930s, 1950s, 1980s, the U.S.
defense establishment currently finds itself in the midst of great
transition. Issues addressed in previous QDRs like force planning,
risk distribution and missile defense remain relevant, but now it
is essential that these elements closely align with strategy.
Indeed, one of the major questions driving the 2005 QDR is how to
align strategy with capability. Additionally, the demand of greater
interagency cooperation between the Department of Defense and the
Department of Homeland Security, especially in the "strategic
commons" generated by the Global War on Terrorism-including
ungoverned areas of space, sea, and cyberspace-requires that the
Pentagon consider what capabilities it will need to advance larger
national anti-terrorism strategies.
The new model of "capabilities-based" planning will allow planners
to look at problems in ways that were not possible in previous
QDRs. Capabilities-based planning is defined as "the ability to
achieve a desired effect under specified standards and conditions
through combinations of means and ways to perform a set of tasks."
This model does not focus extensively on "systems and platforms"
but also considers certain standards and conditions:
Magnitude (intensity and scope): What sort of campaign is required?
Temporal (timing and duration): How long will the campaign
be? How quickly must the desired effect be achieved?
Geospatial (distance and coverage): How big must the
operation be? How far away?
Operational Environment: What are the conditions
(urban, mountainous, amphibious, etc.) under which operations will
Strategic Environment: What is the overarching nature of
the threat or conflict-irregular, traditional, catastrophic, or
If allowed to, excess formal structure can take on a life of its
own and create stovepipes. Stability and team effort under the
leadership of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will help to
mitigate this effect. Establishment of the Terms of Reference and
focus on a smaller number of "big" issues than in the past both
increase the chance that innovative approaches will result from the
2005 QDR. Furthermore, the decision to move the programming process
from September to February will greatly enhance the QDR's alignment
with the defense Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution
In addition, the Department of Defense has developed a set of
functional principles to guide the 2005 QDR process:
structural competition of ideas during QDR
alignment among strategy, core problems, proposed approaches to
addressing the problems, and apportionment of
near-term operational demands with longer-term challenges and
lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi
resource-neutral recommendations for adjustments in programs and
force structure, assuming that the top-line budget will not
continue to rise;
executable guidance as issues mature during the QDR process and
then follow through with an execution roadmap;
direction from senior leadership; and
open and transparent process.
The QDR is
not designed to be relevant to only a single point in time, nor is
the process considered complete upon issuance of the final report.
The QDR process generates two main outputs. First is the QDR report
itself. And then there are a set of associated outputs, such as
independent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff risk assessments,
follow-on execution guidance, and the actions of the individual
services in response to QDR decisions. These outputs form a roadmap
that extends well beyond the date on any given QDR report, allowing
major transformational efforts to continue and develop in
conjunction with future requirements.
For more information on the 2005 Quadrennial Review, see Heritage
Foundation Executive Memorandum No. 954, Principles
for the Next Quadrennial Defense Review and Heritage
Foundation Lecture No. 864, The
Quadrennial Defense Review: Some Guiding
Jack Spencer is Senior Policy Analyst for Defense and National
Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for
International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Kathy Gudgel,
Research Assistant in Defense and National Security, contributed to
this piece. This paper is based on presentations given at "The 2005
Quadrennial Defense Review: The View from the Pentagon," held at
The Heritage Foundation on February 3, 2005.