Background

The Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel was tasked by Congress to provide an assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), including the recommendations put forth in the QDR, the stated and implied assumptions of the review, and the vulnerabilities of the proposed strategy and its underlying force structure. The Independent Panel was also asked to analyze possible future trends in potential adversaries’ capabilities and intentions and provide an alternate force structure based on these future challenges.

Congress created the QDR Independent Panel as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010. The Secretary of Defense nominated twelve members to the Panel, while the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee each nominated an additional four members.

Select Findings and Recommendations:

  • The aging of the inventories and equipment used by the services, the decline in the size of the Navy, escalating personnel entitlements, increased overhead and procurement costs, and the growing stress on the force means that a train wreck is coming in the areas of personnel, acquisition, and force structure.
  • The Panel found that the United States must adopt two new complementary approaches in building future national security strategies: a “whole of government” approach that would rebalance civilian and military capabilities within the U.S. government and a “Comprehensive Approach” that would seek to develop and utilize our abilities to work with selected allies/partners, select international organizations, and, when possible, Nongovernmental and Private Voluntary Organizations (NGOs/PVOs).
  • The president should issue an Executive Order that clarifies interagency roles and responsibilities for whole of government missions.
  • Our nation needs to build greater civil operational capacity to deploy civilians alongside our military and to partner with international bodies, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations in dealing with failed and failing states.
  • The Panel recommendeds the creation of a National Commission on Building the Civil Force to help ensure that our civilians can operate effectively in partnership with our military forces.
  • The Panels recommends the reactivation of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress to study whether Congress and the current committee structure put in place decades ago is properly organized to legislate and oversee implementation of national security efforts.
  • The Panel recommends the creation of a National Commission on Military Personnel modeled after the 1970 Gates Commission to provide momentum and a roadmap to modernize the military personnel system.
  • The Panel recommends the creation of a standing Independent Strategic Review Panel to review the U.S. national security strategic environment and provide recommendations to the White House and its various departments and agencies on how to address the range of threats confronting the nation. This will aid in forming a truly comprehensive national security strategic planning process.