From Defense News we have two important articles related to budget. First, it’s suddenly QDR season.

The Pentagon has stood up a team that will rapidly update the document that serves as the foundation of the U.S. military’s strategy and priorities, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has tapped Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, the deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, to lead the so-called Strategic Choices Working Group, according to Col. David Lapan, Dempsey’s spokesman.

The panel will update the 2010 QDR, a document that sets long-term Pentagon goals and assesses national security threats. The intent of the QDR is to prepare the military for future conflicts. Traditionally, the QDR is updated every four years.

Schmidle played a key role in the Marine Corps contribution to the 2006 QDR and served as the Marine Corps lead to the 2010 QDR.

The group will update the QDR in 30 days, according to sources.

What should we make of the idea that the DoD will rapidly adjust the QDR on the fly, even though the QDR – which is normally produced every four years – often takes about a full year to develop and publish? Is this a sign of flexibility, or is this a red flag? My sense is that if the QDR process is broken, this probably didn’t fix it.


This week, Panetta directed Carter to work with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to “set in place am architecture to govern decision-making on defense strategy and budget options,” the memo states.

“This should incorporate the analyses of the comprehensive strategic review, military compensation reform discussions and the ongoing strategic discussions with the president,” the memo states.

Panetta endorsed the creation of the Strategic Choices Group and the “restructuring” of the Deputy’s Working Advisory Group (DAWG) into the Deputy’s Management Action Group, which will help accomplish these objectives.”

Dempsey has tapped Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, the deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, to lead the Strategic Choices Group, which is conducting a rapid upgrade of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the bedrock of U.S. military strategy and priorities.

The reviews are expected to inform the reductions in planned spending.

So not only will the DoD rewrite the QDR at a NASCAR pace, but the DoD is also creating a new office to develop architecture to govern decision-making on defense strategy and budget options. How big is the Department of Defense? Apparently not very big, because it only took two SECDEF memos to significantly impact the processes by which the United States spends half a trillion dollars every budget year.

These are very significant changes for the Department of Defense, and making these changes is a public admission by the Secretary of Defense that the current system that connects defense strategy and budget is broken. We all knew this of course, but no one ever thought we would ever actually see proof.

Finally, I for one am very hopeful seeing that Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert (Rooster!) Schmidle is being tapped to be the main guy managing budget cuts. By any measurement, Schmidle is a credible choice for this incredibly important task, and all of this news may represent a legitimate turning point towards credible strategic guidance informing decisions forced on the DoD by budget cuts.

Posted by galrahn in Cyber, Homeland Security, Policy

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  • Matt Yankee

    As long as we are re-prioritizing defense spending I think we should transfer the Border Patrol budget to the DoD and all assets and personnel should be under the DoD. We, the USA, must immediately create absolutely credible border defenses on our southern border.

    I just heard from a ranch hand very near Hebronville Texas that he was warned to never ask Mexicans anything when they are crossing HIS ranch or his life, and that of his family living on the ranch will be in danger. It is the duty of the Department of Defense to DEFEND us. ALL other defense prioties should be secondary to swiftly bringing the border under control. This is a massive, hitoric, ongoing failure to defend ourselves and our country. Do not believe the fools who say it is under control.

    This no joke. We bettter start dealing with the real problems before its too late. Look up Hebronville…its not even close to the border. WHY are thousands of drug cartel terrorists being allowed into our land? WHERE is the cavalry???

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    So if I got this right, it’s no longer quadrennial, there is no review in any detail before promulgating the edict (insufficient time), and the defense priorities are set by a superseding new internal committee based on the money that will be allotted regardless of the threat, situation, or strategy.

    Or did I miss something?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Grandpa, you nailed it.

    Most of the budget cuts will come from Defense. It is easier, it is always the sacrificial lamb of the left, and when there is little by way of cogent national strategy, justification for systems and programs become all but impossible.

    Vladimir Putin in a resurgent Russia is taking note. So is Communist China. Iran. Turkey. And also Israel, and the Visegrad nations.

  • Rib Mountain

    Most (over 2/3rds) of the budget reductions required by the first phase of the Budget Control Act are already laid in, the bulk of the rest will come from budget gimicks. The specific reductions came from from the time-honored 30% Army, 30% DoN, and 30% Air Force, 10% SOF methodology. We are just doing the strategy piece to distract from the reality that our leadership is afraid to make a real strategic decision.

  • Derrick

    It all depends on what the priorities agreed upon are. As long as the weapons that form the strategic nuclear triad are modernized, peer competitors should be kept at bay. The US still has the most nuclear weapons in the world and a smart US government will keep it that way; will probably need some cash to modernize the strategic bomber force, the ICBMs and the SLBMs and subs that launch them though.

    I thought the major reason for the high defense spending were the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Now that they are being drawn down, shouldn’t that be more than enough in terms of defense spending cuts?

    The other thing that thankfully won’t impact me, but will probably impact a lot of people in uniform, is that the biggest piece of the military budget, to my memory, is personnel cost. Benefits and salaries of US military personnel are pretty good. So I don’t want to give the committee too many ideas, but someone in Congress suggested a while back that a selective service draft may be a way to reduce personnel costs…And it may not be a bad idea to have every teenager do at least basic training…they’ll learn discipline and appreciate the risks that politicians put soldiers in.

    Just some random thoughts…feel free to reject. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Derrick

    Also, minor point, but even if the entire defense budget was scrapped, there’s still $400 billion USD a year deficit remaining, if I recall correctly. Reality is…the majority of the cuts will have to come from entitlements, so get ready to see your pension checks cut. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also, deep cuts in defense spending would require putting soldiers and sailors on unemployment insurance/welfare. So those cuts wouldn’t really be saving money since instead of paying those people for military service, the government would be paying them for nothing (via welfare checks). ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Given the choice, I prefer to pay them to do some work as opposed to none at all, but that’s just me. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Sweetbriar

    According to Schmidle’s official biography, “Additionally, he has been published on a range of topics from military history to social psychology and philosophy.”

    Google is not helping me find any of that very well. Does anyone remember reading any of it or where it was published? His son Nicholas Schmidle has muddied the Google waters with his work, but I’m guessing most of the General’s publications would have been scholarly work rather than popular reading anyway.