Defense Reviews

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Asia Pivot and Air-Sea Battle: Precipitating Military Competition with China?

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, Reset Defense Bulletin, 03 March 2014. Will China come to pose a peer military threat to the United States?  The Obama administration’s 2012 Strategic Defense Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) turn on this eventuality. Both the so-called “Asia pivot” and the evolving Air-Sea Battle (ASB) operational concept are meant to preclude it. But they may serve to precipitate it, instead.
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Defense Sense – Fiscal Year 2014 Update: Options for National Security Savings

(printable PDF version) Project on Defense Alternatives, 26 June 2013. Outlines 16 recommendations that, taken together, achieve more than $22 billion in Pentagon savings in Fiscal Year 2014. Leading the list of savings options are reductions in military end strength, missile defense spending, and purchases of the F-35 Lightning II, Littoral Combat Ship, and Virginia-class submarine.
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Striking a New Deal for Defense

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, Government Executive, 13 February 2013. Whether or not the sequester goes into effect — or lasts only a couple of months — the Pentagon’s budget is surely coming down another notch or two. That’s simply the reality of the current economic and strategic circumstance. It’s time for defense leaders to plan accordingly. The surest way to make smaller Pentagon budgets work is to cut end strength and structure — fewer troops, brigades, ships and aircraft. In the near term this might be managed by reducing the number of soldiers and the size of units routinely stationed or rotated abroad.
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Reasonable Defense: A Sustainable Approach to Securing the Nation

(printable PDF version) (summary) (appendix of tables and charts) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Report #21, 14 November 2012.  Argues for a new balance among the various instruments of  national power reflecting today’s strategic conditions.  Taking a realistic view of security needs, the report advocates a military 20% smaller than today’s.   It advances a “discriminate defense” strategy that would focus the military on cost-effective missions and save $550 billion more than official plans over the next decade.   Main report includes 9 tables.  Appendix has 18 additional tables and charts addressing personnel, force structure, and budgets.
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The QDR’s Catastrophic Report

(HTML version) by Charles Knight and Larry Korb, Foreign Policy, 05 August 2010. “As the Sustainable Defense Task Force sought to demonstrate, failing to make reasonable reductions in military spending in this time of complex fiscal pressures will end up being far more of a threat to U.S. interests than any external enemy.”
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Assessing the 2010 QDR: essential questions

(PowerPoint version) PDA Briefing Memo 45, January 2010. Poses questions that must be asked in assessing the Quadrennial Defense Review.
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Re-Envisioning Defense: An Agenda for US Policy Debate & Transition

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) PDA Briefing Memo #44, 01 December 2008. Summarizes problem areas in recent US defense policy as well as several broad topics of debate that touch on them all. 

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Symposium: The Role of Force & the Armed Forces in US Foreign Policy — What have we learned?

Security Policy Working Group, 10 April 2008.

  • Andrew Bacevich, “The Origins and Demise of the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War”
  • Carl Conetta, “Out from the House of War: A Litmus for New Leadership in Security Policy” (printable .pdf)
  • David Gold, “How Much Defense Can We Afford? (printable .pdf), as republished in Challenge (Sept/Oct 2008)
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Dissuading China and Fighting the ‘Long War’

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, World Policy Journal, 01 July 2006. The 2006 US Defense Review advanced two new strategic vectors for the US armed forces – one targets a putative “global Islamic insurgency”; the other puts America on a collison course with China. 

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We Can See Clearly Now: The Limits of Foresight in the pre-World War II Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Research Monograph #12, 02 March 2006. “Military transformation” and the idea of a “Revolution in Military Affairs” are prominent themes in US defense planning. However, the example of revolutionary change during the Second World War suggests that forecasting such revolutions poses a daunting, if not insurmountable challenge.
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The Pentagon’s Disconnect Between Planned Forces and Missions

(HTML version) Carl Conetta. Global Beat Syndicate, 16 February 2006.
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The Pentagon’s Disconnect Between Planned Forces and Missions

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, Global Beat Syndicate, 16 February 2006.
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QDR 2006: Do The Forces Match the Missions? DOD Gives Little Reason to Believe

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Memo #36, February 2006. The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review sets out ambitious new goals and missions for the US armed forces, but fails to clarify the link between missions, assets, and budgets.
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Key excerpts from the 18 January 2006 draft of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) InsideDefense.com, 24 January 2006 .  Selection by Charles Knight. On 23 January 2006 InsideDefense.com published 42 pages of material excerpted from a 127 page “18 January 2006 draft working paper” version of the QDR. This is a selection (about 6% of the total QDR text) from those excerpts.
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Much Ado About QDR: Quadrennial Defense Review Triggers Great Anxiety, Little Change

(HTML version) William Matthews. Armed Forces Journal, January 2006.
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The Bush Doctrine: Origins, Evolution, Alternatives

(printable PDF version) by Mark Gerard Mantho, PDA Guest Publication, April 2004. The Bush administration’s national security doctrine represents the most sweeping change in U.S. foreign policy since World War II and was the conceptual underpinning of the President’s decision to invade Iraq. Yet few Americans realize where the policy came from, who crafted it, or even what it is.
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9/11 and the Meanings of Military Transformation

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, 06 February 2003. This article examines a ten-year failure to adapt US security policy to post-Cold War realities and assesses how well three different concepts of military transformation correspond to these new realities. Originally published in Security After 9/11: Strategy Choices and Budget Tradeoffs by the Security Policy Working Group, January 2003 (.pdf file). A compilation of eight articles that gauge the cost and effectiveness of post-9/11 US security policy offering assessments of counter-terrorism, homeland security, and military transformation policies in light of alternative options and budget tradeoffs. Executive summaries and author contact information included.
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The Pentagon’s New Budget, New Strategy, and New War

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Report #12, 25 June 2002. Examines the new US military strategy as codified in the September 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review and practiced in the Afghan war. The report contrasts the new QDR with its 1997 predecessor, paying special attention to the Bush administration’s “new concept of deterrence.” Published in Hegemonie oder Stabilität: Alternativen zur Militarisierung der Politik, edited by Volker Kröning (MdB), Lutz Unterseher, and Günter Verheugen (Hrsg.) Bremen: Edition Temmen, August 2002.
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The Paradoxes of post-Cold War US Defense Policy: An Agenda for the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review

(HTML version) PDA Briefing Memo #18, 05 February 2001. Recent defense planning discussions have tended to focus on military readiness and modernization issues, but a broader purview is needed and must address three persistent paradoxes of post-Cold War US defense policy.
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Military Strategy Under Review

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, Foreign Policy In Focus, Volume 4, Number 3, January 1999. Offers an overview of the recent directions in US strategic policy with a discussion of problems with that direction and recommendations for reform.
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Defense Sufficiency and Cooperation: A US Military Posture for the post-Cold War Era

(HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, Project on Defense Alternatives, 01 March 1998. Presents a comprehensive and coherent US military posture option for a fifteen-year period beginning in 1998. While maintaining continuity of key aspects of US security strategy, it finds ample opportunity for further reductions in forces size and consequently in budget. Includes specification of force structure, equipment holdings, deployment, modernization plans, and defense budgets.
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Dueling with Uncertainty: the New Logic of American Military Planning

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, February 1998. Examines how the new planning concepts and methods adopted by the Pentagon since 1992 have led to military requirements disproportionate to real threats and have supported overweening ambitions for the application of military power. A version appeared in the March/April 1998 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as “Inventing Threats.”
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Future Tense — An Assessment of the Report of the National Defense Panel

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, 05 December 1997. Examines the National Defense Panel’s general recommendation for reducing emphasis on armed forces quantity in exchange for quality enhancements. While this recommendation makes certain sense, the NDP’s failure to specify cuts and its tendency to endorse new investments prematurely are problematic.
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From the QDR to the NDP — A Summary of QDR Policy Issues Since May 1997 and the Likely Content of the NDP Report

(HTML version) Project on Defense Alternatives, from Reviewing Defense, Global Beat Working Paper #32, the Center for War, Peace,  14 November 1997.
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Backwards Into the Future: How the Quadrennial Defense Review Prepares America for the Wrong Century

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, June 1997. A commentary on and analysis of the 1997 QDR.
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US Defense Posture in Global Context: a framework for evaluating the Quadrennial Defense Review

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, The Project on Defense Alternatives, May 1997.
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Framework for Constructing a “New Era” Alternative to the Bottom-Up Review

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, February 1997. Based on the strategic objective of a core area coalition defense (i.e. Persian Gulf, Korea, and Europe) this memo takes the reader step by step through the logic of force sizing and structuring and modernization requirements to arrive at a robust and consistent alternative to the Bottom-Up Review force posture.
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Mismatch: The “Bottom Up Review” and America’s Security Requirements in the New Era

(HTML version) written testimony by Carl Conetta for the House Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, 10 March 1994. A critical appraisal of the type of U.S. post-Cold War military planning found in the B.U.R. which attempts to hedge against the uncertainty of the future and the prospect of a future peer competitor with a force structure so large as to preclude investment in security tools more suitable to the new era. As an alternative this testimony offers a sustainable force option for a core area coalition defense.
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Free Reign for the Sole Superpower?

(HTML version) , Project on Defense Alternatives, Boston Review, Vol. 8 No. 6, Dec/Jan 1993-1994. Reports on the first Clinton Administration’s Bottom Up Review (BUR) of defense policy and planning. This article remains a useful review of the limits of new thinking in post-Cold War U.S. national security planning and a starting point for evaluating subsequent defense reviews.
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Rand’s ‘New Calculus’ and the Impasse of US Defense Restructuring

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight , PDA Briefing Report #4, August 1993. Reviews a key planning study contributing to US post-Cold War strategic thinking and force planning, revealing critical shortcomings in the planning scenarios and simulations that continue to shape US defense policy. Individual sections address the “two war” standard of sufficiency, the persistence of “Central Front” logic, and assessments of strategic airlift and combat aircraft modernization requirements.
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