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.