Independent Panel Reviews the QDR

August 18, 2010 By Hannah Kaye

<p><img decoding= width=When the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review was released in February, we blogged about its emphasis on building U.S. civilian capacity. Now a bipartisan Independent Panel asked by Congress to review the QDR has elaborated on this conclusion, making numerous recommendations and conclusions that urge the U.S. government to strengthen U.S. civilian personnel, resources, and authorities—soon.

The panel, led by National Security Advisor to President Bush Stephen Hadley and Secretary of Defense to President Clinton William Perry, reviewed the report with the aim of assessing America’s long-term threats and making recommendations to better prepare the U.S. military to meet those challenges. Looking forward twenty years, they found that most of the primary threats facing the United States will require much more coordinated, multi-actor responses which they call the “Comprehensive Approach.”  They argue that America must lead international institutions and draw on the strengths of all U.S. government agencies, private and non-profit partners, and other governments to achieve national security in the future.

The report makes numerous recommendations to help the U.S. government achieve the Comprehensive Approach. Among them they suggest:

  • Properly resourcing  and empowering civilian agencies so that they can achieve their missions and  contribute even more to national security;
  • Enhancing coordination of all tools of national security (defense, development, diplomacy, intelligence, and others) while clarifying their individual roles;
  • Reorganizing committees in Congress so that military and civilian programs and resources can be coordinated and mutually reinforcing;
  • Creating incentives to encourage “whole of government” cooperation, collaboration, and communication;
  • Establishing interagency response teams and identifying lead agencies for different types of situations;
  • Expanding the capacity of civilian agencies to respond to emerging or ongoing conflicts;
  • Developing a “grand strategy” for national security that will encompass the entire U.S. security arsenal (civilian and military) and guide strategic thinking across agencies.

The many recommendations point to the great need for strong, capable civilian agencies that have the authorities and the personnel to act quickly and effectively. As threats shift and security becomes more complex, the United States must be able to rely on all of its strengths- military and civilian- and ensure that government and non-governmental partners are prepared to clarify their own missions and work together in more coordinated, integrated ways than ever before.