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Experts Provide Insights on Strategic Reports

By Judith Snyderman
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2010 – Defense officials who helped to write the Quadrennial Defense Review and the related Ballistic Missile Defense Review offered insights into their analyses in a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable yesterday.

Kathleen Hicks, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces, said the QDR, which is conducted every four years by congressional mandate, lays out a strategy to rebalance the Defense Department’s capabilities and structure.

The dual purpose of all recommendations, Hicks said, is "delivering first-class capabilities to our men and women in uniform and, second, being responsible stewards of American taxpayer dollars."

Hicks said the analysis does not make any suggestions that would hamper the ability to prevail in today's conflicts. But, she added, it does provide a 15-to-20-year outlook with far-ranging objectives.

"The first is prevention and deterrence; the second is moving beyond planning for conventional contingencies and preparing for a wider range of challenges; and the third is elevating the need to preserve and enhance the all-volunteer force," she said.

The QDR emphasizes tapping into civilian expertise and broadening partnerships at home and abroad, Hicks said, noting that the U.S. military already works side by side with allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"It behooves us to invest in those relationships," she said.

Michael Nacht, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, whose office provided overall supervision of day-to-day operations of the ballistic missile defense review, said one core element of homeland defense is protecting against limited attacks. But, he added, his report provides a detailed outline to address another core element of defense against regional threats, which he said are growing.

For example, the development and testing of missile defense capabilities for deployment in Europe has already begun, he said.

"We're engaged in extensive discussions and negotiations with our closest allies and other partners,” Nacht said, “so that we're all on the same wavelength as these systems reach full-scale development and then begin to be deployed.”

In response to questions from bloggers, Hicks said the QDR recognizes two challenging issues. One is the need to prevent the transfer of data and technology to rogue states or non-state actors. Hicks said the report contains plans to beef up the Defense Department’s ability to analyze intelligence that will help to solve the problem.

"It's largely put in the context in the QDR of the wars we're in today,” she said. “But [it is] very important to point out that the future is now, in many cases.”

Another challenge relates to the size of the all-volunteer force. Hicks said the QDR report recognizes that current conflicts in multiple theaters have strained servicemembers. Therefore, she said, it makes planning assumptions that are adjusted to assume a "more reasonable tempo over the long term."

She said the report also identifies capabilities in short supply, including civil affairs; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and helicopters.

Hicks said both the QDR and the BMDR combine near-term and long-range planning and aim to describe a realistic pathway to meet strategic goals.

(Judith Snyderman works in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.)

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Biographies:
Kathleen Hicks
Michael Nacht

Related Sites:
Quadrennial Defense Review
Ballistic Missile Defense Review
"DoDLive" Bloggers Roundtable



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