11 Mar 14. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review isn’t like previous reviews, a senior Defense Department official said here yesterday.
Christine E. Wormuth, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and force development spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The QDR is a congressionally mandated review of DOD strategy and priorities. It is intended to set the course for the department to address current and future conflicts and threats. The review this year was completed in about half the usual time, Wormuth said, and in an environment marked by tremendous uncertainty.
The past 18 months of fiscal uncertainty have pushed the department into a near-continuous cycle of evaluation and planning, she said. A break usually follows the department’s annual program review cycle, the deputy undersecretary said, but last year, the department went straight into planning for sequestration.
“We then undertook the Strategic Choices in Management Review, and then … segued straight into the QDR 2014 process, as well as the next program review cycle,” Wormuth said. “So, it’s been a very challenging time.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thought it was important to take this QDR — the first since he took office — as an opportunity to look at the security environment and re-examine the strategy to lay out his vision for the department, she said.
“He gave us a lot of upfront guidance — the day-to-day process was co-chaired by then-Deputy Secretary Ash Carter, and our vice chairman, Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, [and] they were very, very involved,” Wormuth said.
Carter and Winnefeld also were co-chairs of the budget review, she noted, which allowed for ideas to cross over between the two processes. And although it was a shorter, more compressed QDR than usual, she said, the department made every effort to continue the tradition of having the QDR be inclusive, transparent and collegial.
“We had representation from all of the services, all of the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] organization, all of the combatant commands, etc.,” Wormuth said. “So, we really tried to sort of involve everyone. That, of course, doesn’t mean that every organization was happy with where we wound up, but I think it’s fair to say that all parts of the building had a voice in the process, and that’s very important to having a coherent … result at the end that has integrity.”
The final QDR report outlines three broad themes: an updated defense strategy, the rebalance of the joint force and the department’s commitment to protecting the all-volunteer force, she said.
The updated strategy is one that the department believes “is appropriate for the United States as a global leader,” Wormuth said. “It’s a strategy that we believe helps us protect our interests and advance those interests in the world and helps us sustain our global leadership role.”
The second objective addresses managing the joint force given the current strategic and fiscal environments, Wormuth said.
And the third piece of the QDR report outlines how the department will continue to recruit and retain service members while becoming more efficient and effective, she said. In particular, the deputy undersecretary said, this section looks at reining in the growth of compensation packages to maintain a balanced force going into the future.
The underlying theme in the report is the kinds of risks that the department believes the return of sequestration in fiscal year 2016 poses to the defense strategy going forward, she said.
The 2014 QDR is an evolution of strategy as opposed to a revolution in strategy, Wormuth said.
“The administration had our strategic priorities pretty much right in the 2012 defense strategic guidance,” she said. “So we really went from the 2010 QDR, which was very focused on the two current wars at the time [in] Iraq and Afghanistan to the 2012 defense strategic guidance, where we tried to lay out some of the important