Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, center, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on April 11. U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale, the department comptroller, joined Hagel for the testimony. (Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo / Defense Department)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) has emphasized the need to protect science, technology, research and development, specifically cyber capabilities, a key priority of senior defense officials.
The US Defense Department plans to invest in “new and expanded cyber capabilities and forces to enhance our ability to conduct cyberspace operations and support military operations,” the review, which is conducted ever four years, states.
DoD plans to stand up “Cyber Mission Force” to operate and defend the Pentagon’s networks and support military operations. The force will be manned by 2016 and DoD is “investing in state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure to conduct its missions.”
The QDR update also builds on comments made last week by DoD officials about the desire to invest more in science, technology, research and development “both within the defense sector and beyond.”
“Although all of our budget requests are for needed capabilities, some were motivated by industrial base considerations,” a senior defense official said.
DoD’s 2015 budget proposal, which was sent to Congress Tuesday with the QDR, plans for a $1 billion investment in high-performance engine technology between 2016 and 2019.
“We’re not trying to pick companies,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said at a briefing Tuesday. “We’re trying to pick capabilities.”
Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, said DoD also plans make investments to protect engineering and technological know-how for next-generation ground combat vehicle design and the missile industrial base.
The missile investments will focus on “production processes — including improvements in material and technology upgrades — that will enhance future missile performance and keep the industrial base healthy and strong,” the senior defense official said.
Three Focus Areas
The QDR has three focus areas: protecting the homeland, building security globally, and project power and win decisively.
“I would characterize this updated defense strategy and this overall QDR as an evolution of our strategy,” Christine Wormuth, deputy undersecretary for strategy, plans and force development, said Tuesday during a briefing at the Pentagon. Wormuth has been nominated to become the undersecretary for policy.
“It’s continuing the transitions from the wars of the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, to looking at future threats and looking at what our joint force needs to be able to do in the next 10 to 20 years,” she said. “It builds on and incorporates many of the priorities that were outlined in the Defense Strategic Guidance in 2012.”
That Defense Strategic Guidance officially launched DoD’s pivot, or re-balance, to the Asia-Pacific region. The QDR continues the emphasis on the Pacific, but also stresses “maintaining a strong commitment to security and stability in Europe and the Middle East.”
“[I]n the next 10 years, I expect the risk of inter-state conflict in East Asia to rise, the vulnerability of our platforms and basing to increase, our technology edge to erode, instability to persist in the Middle East, and threats posed by violent extremist organizations to endure,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in the document. “Nearly any future conflict will occur on a much faster pace and on a more technically challenging battlefield.”
The QDR, which took planned defense spending cuts into account, will allow DoD to execute its strategy, officials said, albeit “with increased levels of risk for some missions.
“We will continue to experience gaps in training and maintenance over the near term and will have a reduced margin of error in dealing with risks of uncertainty in a dynamic and shifting security environment over the long term,” the QDR document states.