On Thursday, July 29, the co-chairs of a select, bipartisan panel testified that their study of the Defense Department’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) found that without needed reform the All-Volunteer Force may be unsustainable and that the nation needs a new national security strategic planning process that better incorporates civilian departments and agencies.
(Washington) – On Thursday, July 29, the co-chairs of a select, bipartisan panel testified that their study of the Defense Department’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) found that without needed reform the All-Volunteer Force may be unsustainable and that the nation needs a new national security strategic planning process that better incorporates civilian departments and agencies. Former National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry met with the House Armed Services Committee about their now-public report, “The QDR in Perspective: Meeting America’s National Security Needs in the 21st Century.”
In their testimony, they summed up the panel’s warning that:
- “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.”
- “In addition, 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.”
Co-Chair William J. Perry said, “Without immediate attention, the military faces a major impending crisis. The cost of our All-Volunteer Force has grown dramatically to the point that if left alone we will likely face a reduction in force structure, a reduction in benefits, or a compromised All-Volunteer Force. Our All-Volunteer Force is unsurpassed in today’s world and if Americans want it to continue to secure the United States, hard choices must be made.”
The panel found that the United States must adopt two new complementary approaches in meeting future national security strategies. Recent experience has shown that U.S. government civilian departments and agencies lack the requisite capabilities and capacities to deploy alongside military forces in uncertain settings and deal with many of the issues necessary to establish stable peace. The panel urges both Congress and the White House to adopt a “whole of government” approach that would strengthen civilian capabilities by developing a deployable civilian force to help prevent or respond to overseas crises. These capabilities would become a key enabler for further developing our Comprehensive Approach capabilities which would improve our abilities to work with selected allies/partners, select international organizations, and, when possible, Nongovernmental and Private Voluntary Organizations (NGOs/PVOs) in crisis settings.
Co-Chair Stephen J. Hadley said, “We found that the growing number of civilian government agencies working in stability and reconstruction operations has had far less experience and training in operating in insecure environments than they need and deserve. We call for a National Commission on Building the Civil Force of the Future because until civilian institutions develop the capacity to move promptly overseas to operate with military forces in unstable environments, the full weight of stability operations will fall on the military’s shoulders.”
The review panel makes several explicit recommendations related to the QDR, including calls to:
- Reactivate the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, to study whether our Congress and the current committee structure put in place decades ago is properly organized to legislate and oversee implementation of national security efforts given the diverse and different security challenges of the 21st century.
- Establish a National Commission on Building the Civil Force of the Future to help identify what needs to be done to ensure our civilians can operate effectively in partnership with our military forces.
- Issue an Executive Order signed by the president that clarifies interagency roles and responsibilities for whole of government missions.
- Establish a National Commission on Military Personnel, modeled after the 1970 Gates Commission, to provide momentum and a roadmap to modernize the military personnel system.
- Set up a standing Independent Strategic Review Panel to review the U.S. national security strategic environment and provide recommendations to the Congress, White House and its various departments and agencies on how to address the range of threats confronting our nation. This will aid in forming a truly comprehensive national security strategic planning process.
The QDR, a report required by law and provided by the Defense Department to Congress, is intended to review the national security environment over the next 20 years and identify the defense strategy, forces, and resources required to meet future challenges. After the Department of Defense issued this year’s QDR on February 1, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Congress constituted an independent panel to review the report. The United States Institute of Peace facilitated the independent panel’s work and provided logistical and analytical support. Of the panel’s 20 members, 12 were appointed by the secretary of defense and eight were appointed by Congress.
The report presents the panel’s unanimous views. The panel members are listed below.
Appointed by Secretary Gates:
- The Honorable William J. Perry, Co-Chair
- The Honorable Stephen J. Hadley, Co-Chair
- The Honorable Richard L. Armitage
- The Honorable Jack Dyer Crouch II
- The Honorable Rudy F. deLeon
- The Honorable Joan A. Dempsey
- The Honorable Sherri W. Goodman
- Admiral David E. Jeremiah, USN (Ret)
- General George A. Joulwan, USA (Ret)
- The Honorable Alice C. Maroni
- Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, USMC (Ret)
- General Larry D. Welch, USAF (Ret)
Appointed by Congress:
- The Honorable Charles Curtis
- The Honorable Eric S. Edelman
- General John (Jack) Keane, USA (Ret)
- Dr. Richard H. Kohn
- The Honorable John F. Lehman, Jr.
- Dr. John Nagl
- Major General Robert H. Scales, Jr. USA (Ret)
- The Honorable James M. Talent
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) provides the analysis, training and tools that help to prevent, manage and end violent international conflicts, promote stability and professionalize the field of peacebuilding. For more information, please visit www.usip.org.