Accession Number:



In the Wake of the QDR. The Quadrennial Defense Review and Its Consequences

Descriptive Note:

Special rept.

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Every four years, by mandate of Congress, the Pentagon conducts the Quadrennial Defense Review, a complete re-evaluation of the nations military strategy and forces. The 2005 QDR, the third such review, was published in February 2006. A QDR takes more than a year to finish. It generates intense interest, not only within the government but also among the popular news media and advocates and opponents of programs and causes that might be affected. No special authority is reserved for the QDR. Anything the QDR can do can also be done in between reviews by the regular process of government. For example, the Bush Administrations preemption strategy in June 2002 a landmark change in defense policy was implemented between QDRs. Nevertheless, the QDR is surrounded by an aura of great importance. This is partly because of the depth and breadth of the review and partly because of the attention that is focused on it. The QDR process, in existence for less than 10 years, is perceived as the venue in which key defense issues will be decided. The expectations often exceed what the QDR actually delivers. The QDR grew out of a recognition by Congress in the summer of 1996 that the defense program was seriously out of balance. The armed forces were not sized or funded to carry out the declared national strategy. The force was considerably smaller that it had been during the Cold War, but the operational tempo was higher. With the effects of inflation factored out, the defense budget had declined for 12 years in a row. The defense authorization act for Fiscal Year 1997 directed the Secretary of Defense to conduct and submit to Congress a Quadrennial Defense Review to include a comprehensive examination of the defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the U.S. and establishing a revised defense program.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Civil Defense
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement: