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Defense Department Releases Roles, Missions Review

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 – Defense Department officials released a report to Congress today detailing its core competencies and missions and establishing a framework for similar reviews every four years.

The 2009 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report also reviews recent efforts across the force to improve joint operations in several evolving mission areas, officials said.

The report identifies the department’s core missions as homeland defense and civilian support; deterrence operations; major combat operations; irregular warfare; military support to stabilization, security, transition and reconstruction operations; and military contribution to cooperative security. These are "missions for which [the Defense Department] is uniquely responsible, provides the preponderance of capabilities, or is the U.S. government lead as established by national policy," the report says.

The department identified its core competencies as force application, command and control, battlespace awareness, net centric, building partnerships, protection, logistics, force support, and corporate management and support. These competencies are meant to link the core missions with the Defense Department’s capabilities-development process, according to the news release.

The QRM report also reviewed the evolving mission areas of irregular warfare, cyberspace operations, unmanned aircraft systems and intratheater airlift.

The report found that the Defense Department has achieved “some success” institutionalizing irregular warfare in recent years. The department’s vision for the future is to equip the joint force with the capabilities, doctrine, organization, training, leadership and operating concepts needed to make it as proficient in irregular warfare as it is in conventional warfare, according to the report. Toward that end, Defense Department officials are continuing to define the role of special operations forces, balancing reserve- and active-component roles in irregular warfare, and working with interagency partners.

Cyberspace is a decentralized domain that presents the Defense Department not only with enormous challenges, but also with opportunities, the report says. Noting significant progress in defining the department’s roles, missions and objectives in cyberspace, the report notes the department now has the capability to locate, tag and track terrorists in cyberspace; shape and defend cyberspace; and coordinate defensive and offensive missions in cyberspace.

In the future, the Defense Department seeks to achieve superiority in military-relevant portions of cyberspace, the report states. To do this, the department will develop “a professional cyberspace force able to influence and execute cyberspace operations with the same rigor and confidence as traditional department operations in other domains.” Officials also intend to include more classes and information on cyberspace in Joint Professional Military Education curricula and increase basic training capacity for computer network operations specialists.

The department also will develop its unmanned aircraft and intratheater airlift capabilities, according to the report. Dedicated airlift capacity must be available and extremely responsive to meet the needs of commanders in the field, the report explains, so the Defense Department is assigning all significant fixed-wing airlift capability to the Air Force and Army to allow more flexibility in airlift missions.

For unmanned aircraft systems, the department’s vision is to integrate these capabilities, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, into the intelligence enterprise. To achieve this, the officials will continue to provide direction and advocacy to coordinate development and acquisition of these technologies across the services, combat support agencies, combatant commands and interagency partners, the report says.

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Related Sites:
2009 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review Report


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