Quadrennial Defense Review Charts Strategy Evolution
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2014 – The 2014 version of the Quadrennial Defense Review takes the defense strategic guidance formulated in 2012 and evolves it through the future, a senior Pentagon official said.
Christine E. Wormuth, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and force development, said the congressionally mandated QDR is an opportunity for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to lay out his vision and for the department, to refine defense strategy and to tell how the Defense Department will adapt the joint force to support it.
"This QDR is an evolution in the defense strategy process we've had," said Wormuth, who has been nominated to be undersecretary of defense for policy. "Having come out of Iraq and beginning the process of transitioning in Afghanistan, this QDR looks to the future and talks about how the strategy needs to evolve and how the department needs to rebalance in an era of fiscal restraint."
The review lays out a complex and rapidly evolving security environment that includes changes in technology, demographic trends and other factors. The review stresses the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States while acknowledging there are still many "friction points" in the Middle East, Wormuth said. "Terrorism remains a continuing, evolving, metastasizing threat," she added.
The three "three muscle movements" for the department are protecting the homeland, building security globally, and projecting power and winning decisively, Wormuth noted, and another piece of the strategy is an increased emphasis on innovation and adaptability, particularly in a fiscally constrained environment.
"The review will tick through things we are looking at in terms of new paradigms for forward presence: How can we get more bang for our buck from our forward-deployed forces, and how can we work more closely with allies and partners?" she said. "The innovation piece will also talk about the department protecting its seed corn in science and technology to maintain our technological edge."
The review says that at the funding level in President Barack Obama's budget request, DOD can execute this strategy. "There will be some increased risk in some areas," Wormuth said. In the near term, she added, there is concern about readiness, and in the long term, there is "a lot of uncertainty in a security environment as dynamic as the one we face with a smaller force."
The QDR will cover balancing the force holistically, and will discuss the rationale behind reducing the size of the Army and Marine Corps. It also will lay out things the department is doing to protect investments and will put forward initiatives in key capability areas that support the strategy, she said. These include cyber, space, precision strike and special operations forces.
Another important piece of the review is the discussion about reforming and rebalancing the department itself. The QDR discusses the 20-percent reduction in DOD staffs, why the department needs a new round of base realignment and closure, what acquisition reform can bring to DOD and why the department needs to slow the growth of manpower costs.
The review also looks at what the implications are for the department if there is no relief from sequestration, Wormuth said. "If we return to sequester-level cuts in fiscal 2016, we will see significantly higher levels of risk across the board," she added. The Army will be forced to pare another 20,000 to 40,000 soldiers. The Marine Corps would drop to 175,000. The Air Force would have to eliminate other platforms, and the Navy would eliminate an aircraft carrier.
Sequestration cuts would make the bedrock DOD strategy of fighting and winning two nearly simultaneous wars unworkable, Wormuth said.
"A smaller force cannot be as present around the world," she said. "We would have to be very selective in the engagement and partner-building activities we would take."
Readiness challenges would grow under sequestration, Wormuth added, virtually guaranteeing a hollow force.
The current strategy is the right one for the country, she said. "The additional resources the president has asked for above sequestration, we think, is sufficient to get the job done," she said.
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