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6 Things to Look for in the 2014 QDR

The impending 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review comes at a time of strategic uncertainty for the Department of Defense. As the defense community prepares to pore over this massive strategic document, we’ve taken a look back at the congressionally mandated review of the 2010 QDR and pulled out a few of the independent panel’s key findings that can be used to benchmark DOD’s progress over the past four years.

  • The QDR process misses its intended mark. “Instead of unconstrained, long-term analysis by planners who were encouraged to challenge preexisting thinking,” the review claims, “the QDRs became explanations and justifications, often with marginal changes, of established decisions and plans.”
  • DoD must not strategize in a vacuum. The country’s entire national security apparatus needs to be more integrated. In particular, civilian agencies need to be more involved in planning and supporting DoD stability and reconstruction operations abroad.
  • DoD lacks a clear force-planning construct for security concerns beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel specifically called for increasing force structures for the Asia-Pacific, cyber, domestic catastrophe response, and post-conflict stabilization.
  • The “recent and dramatic growth in the cost of the All-Volunteer Force” must be addressed. DoD leaders should look to change military compensation, allow service members to move fluidly between active and reserve duty, and implement 360-degree officer evaluations.
  • Professional military education (PME) must be elevated and enhanced to better prepare officers for new challenges. Structural changes are needed to expand, strengthen, and diversify professional educational and assignment requirements, including lengthening military careers to accommodate such requirements and mandating service on a teaching faculty for promotion to flag rank.
  • Constant acquisition reform efforts have produced more structure and process without improvement. Accountability and authority for procurement programs have become diffused and confused, and there is no process to address urgent needs of ongoing combat operations.
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