The Quadrennial Opportunity

The convergence of drastic spending restraints, the end of America’s longest war, and a new Quadrennial Defense Review represents a real opportunity for the Pentagon to adapt to real-world needs, but it’s going to take uniformed leadership, said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on Monday. Addressing AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va., Gunzinger said a “new Key West” meeting like the 1947 event that structured the post-World War II US military may be needed to take a hard look at fiscal realities and world military power and shift priorities. He posited limiting this meeting to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their vice chiefs, along with the Defense Secretary and his deputy, as only such a small and powerful group could enact genuine change. The principals “have to use the power of the ‘tank,'” or JCS meeting room, to coerce their constituencies in new directions that would break with tradition, he said. “Absent that, I’m afraid the [QDR] would become another . . . business as usual” exercise, he predicted. Failure at transformation will be indicated if each service continues to get a third of defense spending, observed Gunzinger. “If everything’s a priority, nothing is,” he said.