“If there is one major aspect of the QDR that I have insisted that we try and get away from, it is this construct that we’ve had, for such a long time, that we size our forces to be able to fight two major combat operations,” so stated Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week at a Pentagon press briefing. Gates went on to say that he wants to focus on a so-called hybrid-warfare construct that accounts for “conflict in the future [that] will slide up and down a scale, both in scope or scale and lethality.” Lawmakers are skeptical of the Pentagon’s ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, including Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) who says claims that the rationale for 2010 procurement decisions will become clear in the QDR are merely “a stall.” House defense authorizers in their version of the 2010 defense bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to “assess the degree to which DOD is following the law during its QDR process.” And, they would create an independent national defense panel to review the QDR’s effectiveness, specifically to recommend how the panel would “improve the decision-making process for determining national security objectives.” (This QDR, per senior defense officials, will be “leader driven” and carry forward Gates budget-driven reshaping.) There’s more. The House defense authorizers also want the Pentagon to submit the force structure requirements “used to guide the QDR process,” whether classified or not. (Gates June 18 press brief transcript)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.