Jan 31, 2018
This report presents a comparative historical analysis of the four Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDRs) conducted after 1997 (in 2001, 2006, 2010, and 2014) and identifies trends, implications, and recommendations for the Army and U.S. Department of Defense in order to shape the conduct of and improve future reviews.
A Comparative Analysis of the 2001–2014 Quadrennial Defense Reviews, and Implications for the Army
Published Jan 31, 2018
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This report presents a comparative historical analysis of the four Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDRs) conducted after 1997 (in 2001, 2006, 2010, and 2014) and identifies trends, implications, and recommendations for the Army and U.S. Department of Defense, in order to shape the conduct of and improve future reviews.
The study systematically compares these four QDRs — developed during a period of nearly a decade and a half of conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere — by examining them in the following areas: organization and process, strategy development, force planning, modernization and transformation, resources, defense reform and infrastructure, risk assessment, and reception. The analysis is based on reviews of QDR documentation and defense budget, force structure, and manpower data, as well as structured conversations with individuals involved in each QDR.
The authors find that the situation for U.S. defense strategy in the period under review ended much as it began, with an increasingly apparent gap among U.S. military strategy, forces, and resources, reflected in the changing defense strategies of each QDR. Most QDRs did not adequately address either the growing portfolio of demands on the force or risks associated with different end strengths and mixes of active- and reserve-component forces. To avoid a similar outcome, future defense reviews should focus on assessing the adequacy of U.S. forces to support the chosen strategy at an acceptable level of risk and on characterizing the budgets needed to support those forces in the near, mid-, and long terms. It will be left to leaders in the Department of Defense to estimate the funding levels needed to execute the stated defense strategy, and it will be left to the White House and Congress both to agree on the level of defense funding that keeps risk at an acceptable level and to determine how best to pay that bill.