On July 20, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent the Pentagon’s latest Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review (QRMR) to the Senate and House Armed Services committees for review.
A copy of the 14-page document, obtained by Defense News, closely follows the January 2012 strategic guidance released by the DoD: “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” and reiterates the 10 primary missions that document spelled out for the FY 2013-2017 time frame. It specifically focuses on four: “countering terrorism; deterring and defeating aggression; maintaining a safe, secure nuclear deterrent; and defending the homeland and providing support to civil authorities.”
The last QRMR was released in January 2009, and was 48 pages long. This time, Pentagon leadership broke the report into two parts, with the first part being January’s “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership” paper and the second this latest 14-page addendum.
While the document states that the Pentagon “will ensure its ability to execute” all of the missions it may be tasked with, “even in the presence of new constraints on resources,” it makes no mention of the possibility of sequestration and neglects to delve into any specifics on upcoming budget cuts. Instead, it focuses broadly on the missions the Obama administration and Pentagon leadership have long said will comprise its core competency.
Defense leadership has said that with less money to spend, developing and maintaining security partnerships with strategic allies will be key to maintaining stability overseas. The QRMR tempers this somewhat, adding that the United States will “seek to be the security partner of choice, further developing current partnerships and pursuing new partnerships with a growing number of nations … however, with reduced resources, thoughtful choices will need to be made regarding the location and frequency of engagement activities.”
Also in the non-kinetic realm, the department says that it plans to emphasize conducting information operations, and is planning to develop guidance for combatant commands “to help shape and define their information activities” by the end of FY 2012, according to the document.
As part of a larger postwar restructuring, the document also says that the DoD plans to reduce redundancy in intelligence-gathering operations by “downsizing new intelligence structures created by Combatant Commands in recent years, and consolidating a number of specialized intelligence offices” into two Defense Intelligence Agency task forces that will focus their energies on counterterrorism and terrorism finance.
The document is light on platform specifics, but does reiterate several “key investments” that will remain somewhat immune to budget maneuverings.
Special Operations Forces top the list, with growth expected in MH-47G helicopters and MC-130J aircraft, as well as expanding the pool of logistics and communications enablers. Airborne ISR capabilities such as MQ-1/9 Predator/Reaper unmanned systems also receive a nod, as does the F-35, new long-range bomber development, upgrading and modernizing the nation’s missile defense capabilities, as well as modernizing the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, and Block 5 Virginia-class attack submarines.