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Quadrennial Defense
Review Report

February 6, 2006


The Department of Defense conducted the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) in the fourth year of a long war, a war that is irregular in its nature. The enemies in this war are not traditional conventional military forces but rather dispersed, global terrorist networks that exploit Islam to advance radical political aims. These enemies have the avowed aim of acquiring and using nuclear and biological weapons to murder hundreds of thousands of Americans and others around the world. They use terror, propaganda and indiscriminate violence in an attempt to subjugate the Muslim world under a radical theocratic tyranny while seeking to perpetuate conflict with the United States and its allies and partners. This war requires the U.S. military to adopt unconventional and indirect approaches. Currently, Iraq and Afghanistan are crucial battlegrounds, but the struggle extends far beyond their borders. With its allies and partners, the United States must be prepared to wage this war in many locations simultaneously and for some years to come. As the Department of Defense works to defeat these enemies, it must also remain vigilant in an era of surprise and uncertainty and prepare to prevent, deter or defeat a wider range of asymmetric threats.

This QDR defines two fundamental imperatives for the Department of Defense:

  • Continuing to reorient the Department's capabilities and forces to be more agile in this time of war, to prepare for wider asymmetric challenges and to hedge against uncertainty over the next 20 years.
  • Implementing enterprise-wide changes to ensure that organizational structures, processes and procedures eff ectively support its strategic direction.

Assessing how the Department is organized and operates has been a centerpiece of this QDR. Just as U.S. forces are becoming more agile and capable of rapid action and are exploiting information advantages to increase operational eff ectiveness, headquarters organizations and processes that support them need to develop similar attributes. Changes should focus on meeting the needs of the President of the United States and joint warfighting forces, represented by the Combatant Commanders. This QDR sought to provide a broader range of military options for the President and new capabilities needed by Combatant Commanders to confront asymmetric threats. The principles of transparency, constructive competition to encourage innovation, agility and adaptability, collaboration and partnership should guide the formulation of new strategic processes and organizational structures.

The Department must also adopt a model of continuous change and reassessment if it is to defeat highly adaptive adversaries. In this sense, the QDR is not an end state in itself, but rather an interim Report designed to capture the best contemporary thinking, planning and decisions during this period of profound change. The Department will continue this process of continuous reassessment and improvement with periodic updates in the coming years and by directing the development of follow-on "roadmaps" for areas of particular emphasis in the QDR, including:

  • Department institutional reform and governance.
  • Irregular warfare.
  • Building partnership capacity.
  • Strategic communication.
  • Intelligence.

These roadmaps should guide the implementation of key QDR proposals and continue the refinement of the Department’s approaches in these important areas.

The complexity of the challenges facing the Department and the changes needed to address them necessitate a considerably closer partnership between the Executive and Legislative branches of government and continuous dialogue. Without the support of the Congress, it will not be possible for the Department to undertake many of the changes outlined in this Report. The ideas and recommendations presented represent a starting point for such a dialogue. The Department welcomes other viewpoints and innovative proposals from the Congress, allies, and others that build upon these ideas or provide preferable alternatives.

This QDR builds upon the transformational defense agenda directed by the President and articulated in the 2001 QDR, changes in the U.S. global defense posture and Base Realignment and Closure study, and, most importantly, on the operational experiences of the past four years. In addition to its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has conducted a host of other missions, from providing humanitarian relief in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami and the South Asian earthquake to supporting civil authorities at home and responding to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Lessons from these missions, which informed the QDR's deliberations and conclusions, include the critical importance of:

  • Having the authorities and resources to build partnership capacity, achieve unity of eff ort, and adopt indirect approaches to act with and through others to defeat common enemies - shifting from conducting activities ourselves to enabling partners to do more for themselves.
  • Shifting from responsive actions toward early, preventive measures and increasing the speed of action to stop problems from becoming confl icts or crises.
  • Increasing the freedom of action of the United States and its allies and partners in meeting the security challenges of the 21st century.
  • Minimizing costs to the United States while imposing costs on adversaries, in particular by sustaining America's scientifi c and technological advantage over potential competitors.

Applying these lessons will increase the adaptability of the force when confronting surprise or uncertainty. Maintaining a joint process to identify lessons learned is important to support a process of continuous change and improvement.

The foundation of this QDR is the National Defense Strategy, published in March 2005. This strategy calls for continuing to reorient the Department's capabilities to address a wider range of challenges. Although U.S. military forces maintain their predominance in traditional warfare, they must also be improved to address the non-traditional, asymmetric challenges of this new century. These challenges include irregular warfare (conflicts in which enemy combatants are not regular military forces of nation-states); catastrophic terrorism employing weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and disruptive threats to the United States' ability to maintain its qualitative edge and to project power.

To operationalize the strategy, the Department's senior civilian and military leaders identified four priorities as the focus of the QDR:

  • Defeating terrorist networks.
  • Defending the homeland in depth.
  • Shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads.
  • Preventing hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring or using WMD.

Although these priorities clearly do not represent the full range of operations the U.S. military must be prepared to conduct, they do indicate areas of particular concern. By focusing on them, the Department will continue to increase its capabilities and forces to deal with irregular, catastrophic and disruptive challenges. Improving capabilities and forces to meet these challenges will also increase the forces overall adaptability and versatility in responding to other threats and contingencies.

Based on their evaluation of the four QDR focus areas, the Department's senior leaders decided to refi ne the capstone force planning construct that translates the Department's strategy into guidance to shape and size military forces. This wartime construct, described in detail later in this Report, makes adjustments to better capture the realities of a long war by:

  • Better defining the Department's responsibilities for homeland defense within a broader national framework.
  • Giving greater emphasis to the war on terror and irregular warfare activities, including long-duration unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and military support for stabilization and reconstruction eff orts.
  • Accounting for, and drawing a distinction between, steady-state force demands and surge activities over multi-year periods.

At the same time, this wartime construct requires the capability to conduct multiple, overlapping wars. In addition, it calls for the forces and capabilities needed for deterrence, refl ecting a shift from "one size fits all" deterrence toward more tailorable capabilities to deter advanced military powers, regional WMD states, or non-state terrorists.

The 2006 QDR provides new direction for accelerating the transformation of the Department to focus more on the needs of Combatant Commanders and to develop portfolios of joint capabilities rather than individual stove-piped programs. In 2001, the Department initiated a shift from threat-based planning toward capabilities-based planning, changing the way war-fighting needs are defined and prioritized. The essence of capabilities-based planning is to identify capabilities that adversaries could employ and capabilities that could be available to the United States, then evaluate their interaction, rather than over-optimize the joint force for a limited set of threat scenarios. This QDR continues this shift by emphasizing the needs of the Combatant Commanders as the basis for programs and budgetary priorities. The goal is to manage the Department increasingly through the use of joint capability portfolios. Doing so should improve the Department's ability to meet the needs of the President and the Combatant Commanders. Moving toward a more "demand-driven" approach should reduce unnecessary program redundancy, improve joint interoperability, and streamline acquisition and budgeting processes. The Department is continuing to shift from stovepiped vertical structures to more transparent and horizontally-integrated structures. Just as the U.S. forces operate jointly, so too must horizontal integration become an organizing principle for the Department's investment and enterprise-wide functions. These reforms will not occur overnight, and care must be taken not to weaken what works eff ectively during the transition to a more cross-cutting approach. However, the complex strategic environment of the 21st century demands greater integration of forces, organizations and processes, and closer synchronization of actions.

This environment also places new demands on the Department's Total Force concept. Although the all-volunteer force has been a key to successful U.S. military operations over the past several decades, continued success in future missions is not preordained. The Total Force of active and reserve military, civilian, and contractor personnel must continue to develop the best mix of people equipped with the right skills needed by the Combatant Commanders. To this end, the QDR updates the Department's workforce management policies to guide investments in the force and improve the workforce's ability

to adapt to new challenges. For example, to meet the demands of irregular warfare and operate eff ectively alongside other U.S. agencies, allies or partners, the Department will increase investments focused on developing and maintaining appropriate language, cultural, and information technology skills. The Department is also adopting new personnel systems to reward performance rather than longevity. New joint training initiatives should help ensure that the Total Force is capable of adapting to emerging challenges as the Military Departments continue to rebalance forces between their Active and Reserve Components. Acquiring the right knowledge and skills relevant to the challenges of the 21st century will receive new emphasis in recruitment, retention, training, assignments, career development and advancement. Aligning authorities, policies and practices will produce the best qualifi ed Total Force to satisfy the new demands.

This QDR benefi ted from the change in the legislation mandating the review. By shifting the completion date of the review to coincide with the submission of the President's Fiscal Year 2007 budget request, the Congress permitted the Department to "front load" a limited number of initiatives into the budget submission for Fiscal Year 2007, rather than having to wait until the next full budget cycle. This QDR therefore recommends a number of adjustments to align Defense plans, policies and programs with the broader strategic direction as "leading edge" measures in the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2007. These proposals represent only the vanguard of changes that the Department will initiate in coming years. The Department will develop additional proposals, based on the strategic direction set in this Report, including recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2008 budget submission.

Among the key programmatic decisions the QDR proposes to launch in Fiscal Year 2007 are the following:

  • To strengthen forces to defeat terrorist networks, the Department will increase Special Operations Forces by 15% and increase the number of Special Forces Battalions by one-third. U.S. Special Operations Command (U.S. SOCOM) will establish the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The Air Force will establish an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron under U.S. SOCOM. The Navy will support a U.S. SOCOM increase in SEAL Team manning and will develop a riverine warfare capability. The Department will also expand Psychological Operations and Civil Aff airs units by 3,700 personnel, a 33% increase. Multipurpose Army and Marine Corps ground forces will increase their capabilities and capacity to conduct irregular warfare missions.
  • To strengthen homeland defense and homeland security, the Department will fund a $1.5 billion initiative over the next fi ve years to develop broad-spectrum medical countermeasures against the threat of genetically engineered bio-terror agents. Additional initiatives will include developing advanced detection and deterrent technologies and facilitating full-scale civil-military exercises to improve interagency planning for complex homeland security contingencies.
  • To help shape the choices of countries at strategic crossroads, strengthen deterrence, and hedge against future strategic uncertainty, the Department will develop a wider range of conventional and non-kinetic deterrent options while maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent. It will convert a small number of Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles for use in conventional prompt global strike. The Department will also increase procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles to increase persistent surveillance, nearly doubling today's capacity. It also will begin development of the next generation long-range strike systems, accelerating projected initial operational capability by almost two decades.
  • To improve the nation's ability to deal with the dangers posed by states that possess weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of terrorists gaining control of them, the Department will greatly expand its capabilities and forces for addressing such contingencies. It has assigned U.S. Strategic Command as the lead Combatant Command for integrating and synchronizing combating WMD, which provides a focal point for the Department's efforts. The Department will also establish a deployable Joint Task Force headquarters for WMD elimination to be able to provide immediate command and control of forces for executing those missions.

Achieving the vision set out in this Report will only be possible by maintaining and adapting the United States' enduring alliances. Alliances are clearly one of the nation's greatest sources of strength. Over the past four years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and U.S. bilateral alliances with Australia, Japan, Korea and other nations have adapted to retain their vitality and relevance in the face of new threats to international security. These alliances make manifest the strategic solidarity of free democratic states, promote shared values and facilitate the sharing of military and security burdens around the world. The United States places great value on its unique relationships with the United Kingdom and Australia, whose forces stand with the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other operations. These close military relations are models for the breadth and depth of cooperation that the United States seeks to foster with other allies and partners around the world. Implementation of the QDR's agenda will serve to reinforce these enduring links.

The 2006 QDR was designed to serve as a catalyst to spur the Department's continuing adaptation and reorientation to produce a truly integrated joint force that is more agile, more rapidly deployable, and more capable against the wider range of threats. Through a process of continuous improvement, constant reassessment and application of lessons learned, changes based on this review will continue over time. Collectively, and with the cooperation of the Congress, these changes will ensure that the Department adapts to meet the increasingly dangerous security challenges of the 21st century.

Full 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report [PDF 2MB]

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