And This QDR Is Broken?

Dispatches from wackyland, courtesy of Colin Clark:

Two of the most influential Republican defense analysts have come out swinging after the Christmas lull, saying the QDR is “broken.” Why is it in such sad shape, aside from the usual partisan disagreements about every QDR?

The core of their argument can be found here: “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has indicated that he will reduce force structure to levels that are inconsistent with the nation’s security commitments, focus on a limited number of threats, and mortgage future military capabilities to pay for today’s battles under the flawed assumption that America will likely never again face a conventional enemy. Vegetius, with his charge to prepare for the unexpected, would never have condoned such excessive optimism, especially not in the face of the rise of sophisticated military powers that are hostile to U.S. allies and interests.

Apparently this is from a Heritage paper on the forthcoming Quadrennial Defense Review. Which is funny. Because in early 2005, I attended a forum at Heritage featuring Ryan Henry, then the Rumsfeld Pentagon’s top guy on the QDR, in which the guy pledged that the QDR would incorporate the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq. What did Henry think those lessons were? asked a savvy questioner. Why, Henry replied, the virtues of speed and maneuverability in 21st century warfare.

You and I might recognize those lessons as the ones drawn by the Bush administration that horrifically and tragically misunderstood both wars. But amazingly, I don’t remember any Heritage defense analysts writing back then, “Rumsfeld QDR about to enshrine category errors as basis of national defense posture.”

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman