DOD sets military, procurement targets

While calling the third Quadrennial Defense Review a correction rather than a wholesale change in direction, Defense Department officials nevertheless described a number of actions that could lead to an even greater reliance on information technology and the need for major changes in the way technology is acquired.

The 2005 QDR was released to the public today and will be presented to Congress Feb. 6 along with DOD's budget request. It is the principal document that will guide military force development for the rest of this decade. Congress mandated such reviews beginning in 1997.

To further the goal of changing the military from a static, Cold War posture involving large forces to a more mobile one capable of fighting on many fronts at the same time, the QDR states that DOD will:

  • Make additional investments in information assurance capabilities to protect both communication networks and the data they carry.

  • Use lessons learned from network attacks to adopt a defense-in-depth approach to IT protection.

  • Improve coordination across DOD to improve capabilities for both defensive and offensive cyber missions.

  • Improve DOD’s ability to share information with other agencies and international allies and partners by developing information protection policies and taking advantage of the latest commercial technologies.
  • “This is not a 90-degree bend in the road [but a continuation of] a trend of being able to face asymmetric threats around the globe,” said Gordon England, deputy secretary of Defense and co-chairman of the 2005 QDR.

    Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum earlier in the week, he said preparing for such threats requires strong partnerships among agencies and with foreign allies as well as a continuing shift away from a Cold War military toward one that is faster and more lethal.

    “That [shift] also applies to the department's organization and structure,” he said. “The institutional culture of the DOD also needs to change."

    Such a shift will change the way DOD buys technology. The individual, cost-based procurements that have been the traditional way of acquiring technology and other items will move toward fulfilling what England called joint capability portfolios. The new approach will allow DOD's leaders to allocate resources better.

    To that end, England said, the department will eventually recast its budget to reflect the needs of the joint capability areas and will work with Congress to establish capital accounts to fund operations more flexibly than the current process allows.

    In their introduction to the 2005 QDR, the report’s authors warn that the review shouldn't be taken as an end statement but rather as an interim report. DOD will continually reassess and improve on it, England said, and will publish periodic updates and develop road maps for implementing various parts of the QDR.

    “The QDR is and will be a key element to direct the department,” he said, “but you won't see its full effect until 2008 and 2009.”

    About the Author

    Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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