Quadrennial Defense Review Faces Scrutiny

March 5, 2014
By Helen Mosher

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is requiring the U.S. Defense Department to rewrite and resubmit the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for 2014, saying that it "has more to do with politics than policy and is of little value to decision makers." Among his criticisms: The QDR is written to reflect the current funding level in the president’s budget without identifying unfunded resources the Defense Department still needs, and it only provides five years of guidance instead of the required 20 years and assumes a higher risk than can be accepted under current requirements.

Rep. McKeon plans to introduce legislation that calls on the department to include more information in the revised document. "The QDR has legal standards to meet for a reason," Rep. McKeon says. "They were designed to guide Congress and the commander-in-chief as we make tough choices about resources and security. The information produced by the review process could be immensely valuable but is often withheld from those who need to understand it most."

The QDR is a legally required strategy that the Defense Department must compile. Christine E. Wormuth, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and force development, Defense Department, disagrees with Rep. McKeon’s description of the 2014 QDR the department has submitted. “This QDR is an evolution in the defense strategy process we’ve had,” she says. “Having come out of Iraq and beginning the process of transitioning in Afghanistan, this QDR looks to the future and talks about how the strategy needs to evolve and how the department needs to rebalance in an era of fiscal restraint.”

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