Defense geeks are abuzz: A draft version of the Pentagon’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was obtained yesterday by Defense News. The Pentagon’s major planning document, spearheaded by Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, will shape U.S. defense posture around the globe for the next several years and likely influence the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget.
The document “Acknowledges and puts top priority on succeeding in today’s conflicts,” but also places a major emphasis on the balance between “near and longer-term risks.” It states that the FY 2011 budget will build on FY 2010, placing additional attention on “key lines of investment.” These include, “our troops and our people” and “how we buy and operate.”
Gone is the focus on fighting two peer militaries simultaneously, which has existed as a pervasive part of the QDR since the 1990s. The Pentagon will scrap that concept, “in order to prepare the services for a wider and more complex array of security challenges,” notes Jason Sherman.
Spencer Ackerman points out that this new focus is better because it is centered on existing capabilities: “Not on people. Not on states. Not on specific enemies. But on capabilities that hostile actors have demonstrated to use against the United States and its allies.”
In line with previous statements from Secretary Gates, “the Department will continue to look assiduously for savings in less pressing mission and program areas so that more resources can be devoted to filling these gaps.” This does not indicate, by any means, a cut or reduction in overall Pentagon spending, but does signal a larger focus on those programs that truly benefit the goals of the Department of Defense (DoD), as well as further cuts to those that don’t.
In addition, the document places a greater emphasis than ever before on climate change, noting that, “While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability.” In the future, climate change will affect the DoD in two ways. First, it will affect the “operating environment, roles and missions” that are undertaken. This may involve an increased demand for defense, such as in the case of extreme weather events. Second, “DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on our facilities and military capabilities,” which may include a change in installations and energy sources.
In further speculation, Ackerman points out that the draft QDR is written as if its authors already know what President Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy will say. He points to this quote:
As outlined in the President’s 2010 National Security Strategy, America’s enduring interests are:
- The security and resiliency of the United States, its citizens and their way of life, and of U.S. allies and partners;
- A strong and competitive U.S. economy with a leading role in a vibrant and open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity
- Respect for values such as civil liberties, democracy, equality, dignity, justice, and the rule of law at home and around the world; and
- An international order underpinned by U.S. leadership and engagement that promotes peace, security, responsibility, and stronger cooperation to meet global challenges, including transnational threats.
While this rhetoric is not new, it is certainly a welcome change from President Bush’s more hawkish language on preemptive action.