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Defense Department Background Briefing on Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review

Presenter: Senior Defense Official
May 08, 2008
                MODERATOR: Well, we didn't know that we would be so popular with this briefing actually. But I'm glad that you've all showed up for it today.   
                This is a very important endeavor that the department is undertaking. It's one that's required. It's congressionally mandated. And it is important to the department that we do this right and with as much transparency as we can.   
                So we're very much on the front end of this. It is about the process going forward though. There's no conclusions or recommendations to be briefed today, which is why we're kind of doing this on background, so that you can understand the process going forward that the department will use to do the Roles and Missions Report that's required.   
                We've got some slides that we'll be passing out to you. So as they're going through their discussion, you'll have a copy of these slides. And unfortunately we are limited on time to 12:45 today.   
                Because it is on background, I don't think there's anybody that isn't familiar with these two individuals, if you need their titles afterwards. But we will transcribe it and we'll provide a transcript. So please refer to either the senior defense official or the senior military official when asking your questions. Okay.   
                With that, I don't have anything else. Unless there's any other administrative notes, we'll get right into it.   
                (Cross talk.)   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay. So we're passing out paper copies. We just put this together so that we could have a structured way to go through it.   
                The first slide just lays out the legislation. It's a two-phased legislation, with the chairman doing an assessment of roles, missions, and assigned functions. These are all terms of art within the military bureaucracy.  And then he's supposed to provide recommendations to the secretary. Then the secretary, the way the legislation would read, has looking at core mission areas, competencies, capabilities, and then coming up and putting together a report to Congress.  
                And looking at that and dealing with the congressional committees, we felt that we could certainly meet the intent with that but we might be able to come up with a process that would have a higher probability of delivering something useful rather than doing them necessarily in separate camps. We feel that during the two terms of this administration, we've learned a little                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      bit about productive work between the uniformed military and the secretary's staff. And so we'll talk a little bit on how we'll work that. But this is the tasking that comes out of the National Defense Authorization act. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So on the core mission areas, kind of what we're looking at is what are the key military activities required to support the strategic objectives that are laid out in the national security strategy, the national defense strategy and the national military strategy, and how are we organized to be able to accomplish those key strategic objectives, what are the activities, and then what are the departments -- how do each one of the military departments play a role in that. But really trying to stay focused on the key aspects of the national security and the national military strategy. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay. Slide two is guiding principles. And there were some things we did specifically want to get out there. You can take these taskings from the Congress a number of different ways.   
                We felt that it was best to look to look at it as an opportunity to continue some of the things that we've learned in this administration, as far as organization and construct and things that could perhaps be of value to the next administration.   
                So that's the way that the secretary and the chairman look at it. And after a meeting we had a week or two ago with the senior leadership, the key leaders in the department are also taking it that way. 
                One of the things that we can do in avoiding parochial stovepipes getting into loggerheads over details and nuances was to have this leadership-driven. We think that we've modeled this somewhat successfully in the Quadrennial Defense Review in the development of capability portfolio managers and most recently in the development of two major documents inside the department that talk about future employment and development of the force. And so we wanted to replicate that as we went forward in this. So that's how the leadership-driven -- we've got a wiring diagram somewhat we'll show you. 
                We have so much time to do this. Many of the civilians that will be involved in this will be departing shortly after another 257 days, shortly after the report is done with. And so we wanted to make sure that we didn't bite off more than we can chew. So we're looking at what we think is achievable within the timeframe of the report.   
                If something isn't broken, then we're not interested in looking to try to fix it. We're just trying to look at areas where we think -- where we feel still need work. The roles, missions functions and how one thinks through that and how one aligns the supply side and the demand side of the activities the department does -- we thought would be good to put some effort into that, have a special team look at that, address these somewhat theoretical issues and develop a construct to leave for future administrations to use. And so we will have a specific framework team that is looking at those issues. 
                And then this is supposed to be something that is supposed to be cost neutral. 
                                                                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: And we think we'll also learn a lot during this process as we get ready to do the Quadrennial Defense Review, which will kick off, as you know, after the next year and be due the following year after that. So we would want to be able to build on this as we move towards the QDR. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So on page four, there's seven specific areas that we're going to look at. One is specifically in the legislation itself, unnecessary duplication of capabilities and efforts across the department's components, so we will have a team looking at that. Two issues that have appeared in some of your publications and areas that we want to finely and clearly differentiate on how we're going to handle those; those are unmanned aircraft systems, with the possibility of looking at some broader intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance type of mission areas, but for sure the unmanned aircraft systems and then intertheater lift and how we handle that.   
                An emerging area for the department and a lot of the government is the cyber-world and how do we posture ourselves there. So that will be the fourth effort. We will continue, as we did in the QDR, post-QDR, some of the roadmap teams for irregular warfare. That is an area we continue to refine on how we approach that. What we've come to refer to as IRG, internal -- role -- 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: IRG. Institutional reform and governance. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Institutional reform -- he and I are the co-chairs, and we never say the words. (Laughter.)   
                Q     (Off mike.) 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. Institutional reform and governance. But basically, are there better ways and processes by which to manage a large organization like this and to tee up key decisions in an effective way? So we'll continue to look at that. And then again, these are areas that we've gone over with the Congress, who gave us the legislation, to make sure that -- because that wasn't necessarily addressed, nor was the broader concept of what can we do in the interagency to look at roles and missions and capabilities there. 
                And we might come up with some ideas there. 
                So these are the areas that we've had discussions with the Congress, and I wanted to make sure, before we started out, that we were fulfilling the spirit of the law that was given to us.   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So we're really trying to look at it from a perspective of what do we need, capability-wise, to deliver to the warfighter in order to be able to execute the missions that are laid out, again, all the way back to the strategic documents that are in the National Military/National Defense Strategy, and trying to look at it holistically, not just from a material perspective, but in each one of these cases, look at it from the perspective of doctrine, organizational, training, logistics, really the whole DOTMLPF discussion. Are we properly organized to get those capabilities to the warfighter to be able to take advantage of them from a joint perspective? Because, as you look across the list, they'll all very much joint capabilities that we need. What are the responsibilities of each one of the services? Are there unnecessary duplication among the services in a certain area that if we appointed someone that says: Okay, for training responsibility in this area, you've got the entire -- you know, the entire spectrum for that particular capability to be able to bring forward to the battlefield. And so that's how we're trying to -- really, the question I think we're trying to answer is how to best organize and govern in order to be able to get these capabilities out there and to develop future capabilities in each one of these different areas. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Page 5 finally addresses the structure put together. In looking at this chart, I realize it's not entirely accurate. The -- but let me talk to the teams down there on the joint roles and missions teams. In each one of those, those will be led by a Senate-confirmed civilian who's co-chairing with a joint three- or four-star, either a combatant commander or a senior member of the Joint Staff. And they will put together their teams and work their specific issues. 
                On the framework and generically looking -- roles, missions, functions, core competency, core mission areas, the framework group up there that'll report in to the executive secretariat -- the executive secretariat's going to be run by the director and myself.  
                But we are not doing the substance work. We're just managing the process so that we get a product that comes together, a product that looks coherent and holistic.   
                And the groups will work -- any group is open to any element in the department that wants to participate in that, to be involved. All the meetings, within the department and for members of the department, are open. There's a total transparency in the process.    
                When -- there will be periodic reports that they will report to senior groups. The tank going to the chairman, for the line of independent military advice, which he'll put his inputs into the secretary. And then a parallel line into the term we use, of the dog, which is the deputy's group, with vice chiefs and undersecretaries. And when necessary up to the secretary's group of service chiefs and service secretaries and combatant commanders.   
                So at different periods, there will be reports. At other times, when there is not an agreement on a way to go forward, and a decision needs to be made, then the co-chairs will bring that forth, to one of the appropriate bodies, to get a decision made.   
                So in broad brushes, that's what we're doing. I think we're --  
                (Cross talk.)   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The only other thing to add is that obviously the seven little boxes there for the specific issues relate to the previous page.   
                The roles and missions framework again is to try to lay out a structure of, you know, what are, in our core and supporting mission areas, what are the capabilities we need, in order to be able to execute those core missions? How does that relate to competencies that are needed in each one of the departments? And what are the specific functions and roles of those departments, in order to be able to provide those capabilities, in order to be able to accomplish the roles and the missions that are laid out in the national defense and the National Military Strategy?   
                So that's what that roles and missions group will be working on. And again I think all of this, but that in particular, is also going to help us think through some issues, as we get ready for the Quadrennial Defense Review.   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I talked to a problem with the graph. I guess it's subject to misinterpretation because it doesn't clearly delineate that there is a path of pushing these products up the senior leadership, which is a combined military-civilian path. But there is also a path of independent military advice that goes up the tank, the chairman up to the secretary. And so we kind of have both of those merged together there. I just don't want to be subject to misinterpretation that there's only one way to get it to the secretary. 
                Q     On the seven issue areas that you list here, are these seven that were required by legislation? Are you -- is it possible you could expand those to other areas as you go along, or is it limited by -- and also, could you explain a little bit on the -- particularly the irregular warfare, what it is you're looking at to clarify to who -- what organization within the defense establishment should be in charge of that effort or is it something more specific? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, let me try two quick responses to that and then turn it over to -- (other official). The only one that's required by the legislation is the first of the seven. Beyond that, it's up to the department to make the determination on where they think we need to look. Again, this is something that's required every four years. So we're not trying to look at everything this time. Plus, it's coming at the end of an administration, so we tried to hit what we think were pressing issues along with what the legislation requires us to do. 
                And in the area of irregular warfare, the way you characterize it -- and I guess this is the way a lot of people are looking at this -- is there's going to be winners and losers coming out of this. That could be the case. That's not the approach and the thinking that we're going into. We're trying to make the department more effective.  
                We've taken jointness from interoperability to interdependency, where we realize that one service can put another service on their critical path. They don't have to be able to every single thing within their mission space. They can be relying on partners to do it and they can focus in on where their particular strengths are. And we think that that could be one of the things that come out of this, is how do we do interdependency better rather than who's given this authority or this set of programs and who's given another set of programs. My gut feel is it will be more of the former, is how do we work better together, rather than let's pick winners and losers. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So for irregular warfare, among the many things that they'll look at really is kind of what capabilities do we need, looking at it from a special ops perspective versus a conventional perspective. You know, what task can be accomplished and where do you need to have the majority of that priority go, and also from an active Reserve perspective, because, you know, we have got a lot of, you know, civil affairs, different types of capabilities right now in the Reserve and looking at it from that perspective also. 
                Q     Thank you, sir. Could you tell us how this nestles under or fits with or complements the QDR? Because there's a lot of overlap and I know it's mandated by Congress to be done as part of the FY '10 budget, but clearly with a change of administration, a lot of these strategic documents and reviews are subject to the views of the new political masters. So, how do you account for that? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So it goes up with the budget, which is -- I mean, it has to go up not later than when the budget goes up. It can go up earlier. So there is the option to do it next -- send it up next administration, this administration. Current timelines show us wrapping this up and packaging the report sometime in the November -- late November timeframe, which presents the secretary and this administration during December to determine how they want to work with transition teams and exactly how the document and when the document might go forth. So the study work and everything will be done, obviously, completed this administration, packaged, and then exactly how it's delivered, what manner is used and what parts are delivered, what parts stay internal, will be something that will be determined after the election. 
                Q     And the QDR itself? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The QDR -- this is legislated every four years, the year prior to the QDR. It's meant to be figure out your roles and missions, then go into your QDR. But you bring out before -- that it kind of gets done either straddling terms of an administration or administrations. Clearly, when you're doing the work there's going to be an election going on. And, you know, whether that's the best way to do it long term or not I think is something to be understood in coming years. 
                Q     You know, when you talk about roles and missions, you were talking about resources. And we talked about the degree to which the current allocation of resources across the department will be used kind of as a template from which you may walk back to do this or you throw the deck of cards up in the air and start all over. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. I think the construct you have is different than the one we have.  
                I mean, resources are derivative at some point in time of this, but the thing is -- to get right is how do you deliver military capability to the warfighter, and how can we best do that. So we've taken some steps already in that it's not just about what services get, but we have these horizontal portfolio managers, nine of them, to look at how do we harmonize across portfolios that are working in separate mission spaces. And so we think that -- again, we're not going to dictate how this gets done, but a lot of the people involved in this have been involved in the process of understanding that vertical, picking winners and losers, and horizontal, looking across the whole force and what you're delivering to the warfighter, that you want to be able to look at things in both ways. 
                And so -- anyway, I do not think it will be looking at current accounts and then how do they template over. It's more looking at joint capability areas that we have and how do we best deliver those to the warfighter. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Who's got responsibilities for that -- 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: -- making sure that, again, from a DOTMLPF -- doctrine, organization, training -- perspective, that they are being delivered. 
                Q     Thank you. This sort of issues -- is it accurate to say that these are issues where the Defense Department feels it needs improvement? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think it's accurate to say that these seven -- I mean, obviously you've been able to read in the press on number two and three that there's -- different parts of the department have seen this different ways -- so I mean, those were clearly ones that come together -- and to make sure that we have a unified approach how we're going to go forward. 
                Cyber is clearly an emerging area. Technology, if nothing else, is pushing it forward. We -- I mean, other countries have announced how they have been subject to cyberattacks. It wouldn't be unreasonable to think that we've experienced a similar type of challenges.   
                Irregular warfare is an area that, you know, the military -- since 9/11, the military has been moving into. It is a new -- well, we've had counterinsurgency for a long time, but to be able to have irregular warfare, something that the entire department is concerned about, is something that we're still in the learning process of.   
                So I think that those three areas are -- four areas are areas that the department thinks that this study can help us a lot.   
                The last two are ones of continuing the momentum internal to DOD.   
                And what we've learned is that the structures we had, interagency, to fight the Cold War, are not necessarily the exact same structures or processes we need, both in the executive and legislative branch, that we need to optimize for the long war that's ahead of us.   
                Q     And if I could follow up, how exactly were these issues chosen?   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Interactive process between getting nominated ideas from senior leaders, normally at the four-star level, and then presenting them to what we refer to as the big four -- the deputy, the secretary, the chairman and the vice -- and then going in and having discussions, group discussions at the four-star level. So I guess the answer would be a collaborative process at the senior leader level.   
                Q     The unnecessary duplication of capabilities -- there's lots of opinions of what constitutes duplication. So do you have an objective standard, what's really duplication?   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think we're kind of clear on -- (inaudible) -- unnecessary where the -- where people --  
                Q     Yeah, but how is that going to be determined. It seems like everybody you talk to has a different opinion that. Every service is going to have a different opinion. So is somebody going to have --  
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We tried to look at it from a warfighter's perspective. And you know, I think that's one of the things that we're going to get out of this whole effort, is to be more definitive as to what becomes unnecessary, what becomes redundant, versus what you do need to have in order to be able to have flexibility to be able to accomplish the mission across all the services.   
                To answer your question specifically, that's one of the goals out of here, is to be able to define specifically what unnecessary means. And how do we measure that within the department?   
                Q     (Off mike) -- warfighter perspective, is that the commanders, combatant commanders? (Off mike) -- represents the warfighter in this case?   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The combatant commanders represent, well, in some cases, the combatant commanders are actually leading some of the teams that are out there.    
                In other cases, the combatant commanders, through the Joint Staff and the chairman, who are represented on each one of the different panels, that are out there, are representing what the combatant commanders need now and in the future. Plus the combatant commanders will be part of this as we go through the different review processes that you saw on that chart.   
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: But some combatant commanders for some of the teams will actually be putting people here in the D.C. area so they can participate. Other combatant commanders -- they all of have permanent reps here to be able to attend the meetings. And there's different issues different combatant commanders will be involved in. But this is much more than just a Pentagon effort. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Right, yeah. For example, STRATCOM obviously is going to be greatly involved in the cyber one; SOCOM is going to be greatly involved in the irregular warfare one. 
                Q     Sir, how does the interagency play in this whole thing? I thought you said there was a broader concept of the interagency that isn't going to play, but what did you say is going to play? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: This will not be an interagency product. We will look at what we have learned about how we can improve the interagency. And that's what one of the panels will look like. 
                When they start to come up with their recommendations, then obviously they would go to the different affected elements in the interagency and sit down to discuss with them and coordinate, you know, exactly what the findings are they're coming up with before the secretary would sign it out to go back up to the Hill.   
                But again, we just -- we think that we've learned a lot of things in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader global war on terrorism of how we -- it's a whole of government approach which is needed. The idea of a military approach very, very rarely -- a very small percentage of the time is the way to go. You need to think about what the whole of government can do, of which we're a part. And so we have to have better ways to work in the interagency. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. Look at it from that perspective and also from the perspective of the core mission areas versus some supporting mission areas, where we're kind of looking at core mission areas as the ones that Department of Defense is the predominant -- (inaudible) -- that our primary responsibility to be able to do that with other agencies helping us, and with the supporting being just the opposite. So taking a look at what capacity we need on both sides, you know, us and other agencies and are there things that we in the Department of Defense can do to help other agencies get the capability and capacity they need for the ones they lead in and vice versa back here. 
                And again, as (other defense official) said, we think we've learned a lot over the last eight years. And to be able to kind of write that and give recommendations back to Congress -- where this report ultimately goes to -- is the goal of that group and really throughout the whole thing. 
                MODERATOR: We got time for only one more. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yes, sir. 
                Q     Initially, there was some talk of having an information operation in with the cyber topic and that was taken out. 
                What was the thought process? 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. Well, information operations get into the areas like OPSEC (operation security) and psychological operations, you know, if you're familiar with the five pillars. And we just didn't -- we didn't feel like we needed to look across the five pillars. It was more the cyber domain where we think the most churn's going on right now, and it would do the best to do a deep dive and think about how the department postures itself with that.   
                So electronic warfare, which is part of IO, is not a compelling issue for this. So that's why we went to that. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I mean, it is -- you know, it's the newest capability that we really want to take a hard look at -- how do we deliver it to the warfighter, who's got what responsibilities. 
                Q     If I could just ask one quick follow-up, the director of the Joint Staff is listed as one of the members of the secretariat. If that billet goes unfilled for some time because of a nomination dispute with Congress, could that have -- are you concerned that could have an effect on the study, or -- 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, it will be an acting -- 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That will be an acting director  
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, somebody will be performing that function, Roger. Yeah. 
                Q     Okay. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We're not going to leave that office vacant. 
                Q     Thank you. 
                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Thank you.
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