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Fact Sheet: 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review July 7, 2010

Posted by Alexander Brozdowski in Fact Sheet.

This is the second in a new series of Fact Sheets to be released by Budget Insight, condensing key information on a range of Budget, Foreign Affairs and Defense topics.

All Fact Sheets are also available as one-page PDF documents.

2010 Quadrennial Defense Review

This information is drawn from a variety of different BFAD research products.

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) lacks the prioritization of missions and assessment of risk fundamentally required by the U.S. government.  Wrapping an ever-broader mission set into the Pentagon’s remit and maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for risk aggravates budgetary indiscipline.  The country cannot afford such unconstrained spending or the lack of meaningful strategy that facilitates it.

These shortcomings are apparent throughout the 2010 QDR:

  • All missions are presented as equally important, all are top priority, and DOD is largely responsible for the successful performance of all of them.
  • DOD wrongly extrapolates future missions from experience in Iraq and Afghanistan without discarding or reprioritizing any other missions.
  • No links are made between the importance of a given mission, the level of capability required to accomplish that mission, and the resourcing of that mission.
  • Defense mission and resource expansions encroach upon civilian agencies’ responsibilities and limit investment in other areas of the national security toolkit.
  • An un-prioritized mission set exposes vital DOD programs to arbitrary cuts as the nation considers fiscal tightening and federal debt reduction.

DOD should have disciplined the QDR to a methodology that accounts for the country’s fiscal circumstances and the Pentagon’s appropriate role in the national security toolkit.  The Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense project has undertaken such an effort.  It identifies national interests and values; determines the associated challenges and opportunities; prioritizes the entailed defense missions; and then matches those missions to resources.  Budgetary savings are available in mission areas that are lesser priority, beyond the Pentagon’s appropriate role, or disconnected from contemporary challenges and opportunities.



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