DOD strategy embraces uncertainty

DOD Quadrennial Defense Review report

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The Defense Department will shift its focus to a "capabilities-based" approach, focusing more on how an adversary might fight and less on who the adversary might be and where a war might occur, a report on DOD's Quadrennial Defense Review says.

The QDR is a congressionally mandated, comprehensive review of military strategy and force structure and provides the military with a plan for the next 20 years.

The document makes clear that the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and on the Pentagon represent a new type of war—one that is less predictable. Yet the document, while largely written before the terrorist attacks, suggests those incidents reinforce the changes that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been proposing.

"Even before the attack of September 11, 2001, the senior leaders of the Defense Department set out to establish a new strategy for America's defense that would embrace uncertainty and contend with surprise, a strategy that is premised on the idea that to be effective abroad, America must be safe at home," the 71-page report says.

While it is not possible to know precisely who may attack, one can anticipate the capabilities that an adversary might have, the report says.

Technology and information assurance are a cornerstone of this new approach, the document says. And assuring information systems in the face of attack and conducting effective operations is one of the QDR's operational goals.

It will be important for the Defense Department to hone its capabilities —including information resources—to prevail over current challenges and dissuade future threats, the report says.

"It will also require exploiting U.S. advantages in superior technological innovation; its unmatched space and intelligence capabilities; its sophisticated military training; and its ability to integrate highly distributed military forces in synergistic combinations for highly complex joint military operations," the QDR report says.

The document reinforces the need for DOD transformation. "Continuing 'business as usual' within the department is not a viable option," the report says.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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