On the QDR

February 1, 2010 By John Glenn

While the release of the President’s FY11 budget captured headlines, Monday also saw the release of the Department of Defense’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a report published once every four years intended to articulate DoD’s strategy and priorities.  The bulk of the report focuses on medium-term military strategy and funding priorities, but the 2010 QDR also highlights the importance of civilian and military cooperation in assuring US security. The QDR acknowledges that “Years of war have proven how important it is for America’s civilian agencies to possess the resources and authorities needed to operate alongside the U.S. Armed Forces during complex contingencies at home and abroad.“

The QDR goes on to recognize that, while the military should maintain expertise in areas that traditionally fall under the purview of the State Department, “…civilian leadership of humanitarian assistance, development, and governance is essential.” Indeed, the very process behind the drafting of the QDR demonstrates the integration of defense, development and diplomacy. Referring to the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Defense Review (QDDR), Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy commented to the American Forces Press Services: “One of the most interesting and valuable aspects of this whole review [process] is the degree that it is happening in a whole-of-government context and we’re integrated with the other reviews that are going on in parallel.”

The review of civilian-military resources and authorities will not be completed this year but will continue into the coming year under the guidance of the National Security Council.  As the Washington Post noted here, “an Interagency Policy Committee on Security Sector Assistance is at work in the White House… Its role is to vet security-assistance issues involving the State and Defense departments and to sort out the roles, missions, authorities and resources that encourage interagency cooperation.”