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These are guidelines for the Department's strategic planning and decision making:


The United States will seize the strategic initiative in all areas of defense activity-assuring, dissuading, deterring, and defeating. Our first priority is the defeat of direct threats to the United States. Terrorists have demonstrated that they can conduct . devastating surprise attacks. Allowing opponents to strike first-particularly in an era of proliferation is unacceptable. Therefore, the United States must defeat the most dangerous challenges early and at a safe distance, before they are allowed to mature.

Prevention is thus a critical component of an active, layered defense. We will aim to prevent destabilizing conflict. If conflict becomes unavoidable, we will strive to bring about lasting change to check the emergence of similar challenges in the future.

Preventive actions include security cooperation, forward deterrence, humanitarian assistance, peace operations, and non proliferation initiatives including international cooperation to interdict illicit WMD transiting the commons. Preventive actions also might entail other military operations for example, to prevent the outbreak of hostilities or to help defend or restore a friendly government. Under the most dangerous and compelling circumstances, prevention might require the use of force to disable or destroy WMD in the possession of terrorists or others or to strike targets (e.g., terrorists) that directly threaten the United States or U.S. friends or other interests.

The United States cannot achieve its defense objectives alone. Our concept of active, layered defense includes international partners. Thus, among the key goals of the National Security Strategy is to work with other nations to resolve regional crises and conflicts. In some cases, U.S. forces will play a supporting role, lending assistance to others when our unique capabilities are needed. In other cases, U.S. forces will be supported by international partners.

Another layer in an active, layered approach is the immediate physical defense of the United States. At the direction of the President, the Department will undertake military missions at home to defend the United States, its population, and its critical infrastructure from external attack. Our missile defense program aims to dissuade adversaries by imposing operational and economic costs on those who would employ missiles to threaten the United States, its forces, its interests, or its partners.

In emergencies, we will act quickly to provide unique capabilities to other Federal agencies when the need surpasses the capacities of civilian responders and we are directed to do so by the President or the Secretary. Under some circumstances, the

Department will provide support to outside agencies for one time events of limited scope and duration.

We will focus our military planning, posture,
operations, and capabilities on the active,
forward, and layered defense of our nation,
our interests, and our partners.


Continuous defense transformation is part of a wider governmental effort to transform America's national security institutions to meet 21sst century challenges and opportunities. Just as our challenges change continuously, so too must our military capabilities.

The purpose of transformation is to extend key advantages and reduce vulnerabilities. We are now in a long term struggle against persistent, adaptive adversaries, and must transform to prevail.

Transformation is not only about technology. It is also about:

  • Changing the way we think about challenges and opportunities;
  • Adapting the defense establishment to that new perspective; and,
  • Refocusing capabilities to meet future challenges, not those we are already most prepared to meet.

Transformation requires difficult programmatic and organizational choices. We will need to divest in some areas and invest in others.

Transformational change is not limited to operational forces. We also want to change long standing business processes within the Department to take advantage of information technology. And, we are working to transform our international partnerships, including the capabilities that we and our partners can use collectively.

We seek to foster a culture of innovation. The war on terrorism imparts an urgency to defense transformation; we must transform to win the war.

We will continually adapt how we approach
and confront challenges, conduct business,
and work with others .


Capabilities based planning focuses more on how adversaries may challenge us than on whom those adversaries might be or where we might face them. It focuses the Department on the growing range of capabilities and methods we must possess to contend with an uncertain future. It recognizes the limits of intelligence and the impossibility of predicting complex events with precision. Our planning aims to link capabilities to joint operating concepts across a broad range of scenarios.

The Department is adopting a new approach for planning to implement our strategy. The defense strategy will drive this top down, competitive process. Operating within fiscal constraints, our new approach enables the Secretary of Defense and Joint Force Commanders to balance risk across traditional, irregular, disruptive, and catastrophic challenges.

We will operationalize this strategy to address
the spectrum of strategic challenges by setting
priorities among competing capabilities.


Effectively managing defense risks is central to executing the National Defense Strategy.

The 2001 QDR is the Department's vehicle for risk assessment. It identifies the key dimensions of risk and enables the Secretary to evaluate the size, shape, posture, commitment, and management of our armed forces relative to the objectives of the

National Defense Strategy.. It allows the Secretary of Defense to assess the tradeoffs among objectives and resource constraints. The risk framework comprises: operational risk, future challenges risk, force management risk, and institutional risk:

  • Operationa l risks are those associated with the current force executing the strategy successfully within acceptable human, material, financial, and strategic costs.

  • Future challenges risks are those associated with the Department's capacity to execute future missions successfully against an array of prospective future challengers.

  • Force management risks are those associated with managing military forces fulfilling the missions described in this National Defense Strategy. The primary concern here is recruiting, retaining, training, and equipping a ready force and sustaining that readiness.

  • Institutional risks are those associated with the capacity of new command, management, and business practices.

We assess the likelihood of a variety of problems-most notably, failure or prohibitive costs in pursuit of strategic, operational, or management objectives. This approach recognizes that some objectives, though desirable, may not be attainable, while others, though attainable, may not be worth the costs.

Choices in one area affect choices in others. The Department will make deliberate choices within and across each broad category and will maintain a balance among them-driven by this National Defense Strategy.

We will consider the full range of risks
associated with resources and operations and
manage explicit tradeoffs across the

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