The DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review is out, and its prognosis for America’s military future is quite interesting indeed. Overall funding levels have remained virtually identical; all Gates requested was a 2% increase, about $159.3 billion. Specific increases are called for in the areas of rotary-wing assets, manned and unmanned aircraft, and special forces assets.
For the most part, the strategy remains the same: using a mix of diplomatic, intelligence, and military solutions, keep America safe. Be ready to operate abroad. And be flexible: the military needs the capability to adapt to conventional war, COIN, stabilization, and any other kind of mission that might come up. Below are some key points from the topsheet.
The beginnings of evolution away from a unipolar world system:
The rise of China, the world’s most populous country, and India, the world’s largest democracy, will continue to shape an international system that is no longer easily defined—one in which the United States will remain the most powerful actor but must increasingly work with key allies and partners if it is to sustain stability and peace.
A growing role for non-state actors:
Globalization has transformed the process of technological innovation while lowering entry barriers for a wider range of actors to acquire advanced technologies. As technological innovation and global information flows accelerate, non-state actors will continue to gain influence and capabilities that, during the past century, remained largely the purview of states.
Perhaps the most surprising element of continuity is the insistence that the United States maintain the two-war capability, plus other contingencies occuring simultaneously:
In the mid- to long term, U.S. military forces must plan and prepare to prevail in a broad range of operations that may occur in multiple theaters in overlapping time frames. This includes maintaining the ability to prevail against two capable nation-state aggressors, but we must take seriously the need to plan for the broadest possible range of operations—from homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities, to deterrence and preparedness missions—occurring in multiple and unpredictable combinations.
The QDR admits that “the past eight years have stressed the ground forces disproportionately,” but says that in the future both the navy and air force could see similar stresses – the buildup of the army cannot come at the expense of any other branches.
There’s much, much more to read. The QDR can be found (direct link) here. Hope you have a spare couple hours.