|The US Department of Defense recently released the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a comprehensive report to Congress detailing the projected requirements of the US military for the next several decades. Among security analysts and defense industry experts, the release of the QDR is a highly anticipated event, as it usually presents a mix of threat analysis, strategy, force structure and acquisition decisions. It reveals how key US decision makers in the Pentagon envision the military’s future and how the Defense Department is preparing for it.
After the much maligned strategic decisions of the Bush administration, many defense observers expected the Obama administration to adjust the US defense posture despite the decision to retain Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The QDR, as the first strategic document released by the Obama administration, was surprising mainly due to its lack of surprises. For policymakers in the Pentagon, future threats, conflict scenarios and force structures will resemble current ones. The Obama administration looks to continue the expansive strategic priorities of the Bush administration, seeking only to perform them in a slightly more sustainable manner. In this essay, Michael Mayer provides a concise summary of the report's main elements and offers some political and strategic context.