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The QDR Process - An Alternative View

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These are hard times for those entrusted with crafting our national security strategy. The international environment has undergone the kind of profound transformation which ordinarily takes decades if not generations to unfold. Strategists have had to adjust to a baffling number of challenges. In Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Straits of Taiwan events did not fit neatly into familiar categories of demands on military power. Since 1989 circumstances that we thought could be ignored instead demanded attention, thus compelling the Nation to reassess its foreign and defense policies. Those charged with formulating policy have had to adjust quickly from the Base Force and the Bottom-Up Review to the Quadrennial Defense Review QDR. They still have a long way to go and so has the United States as a whole. Until its final months, the Bush administration based security policy on the possibility that the disintegration of the Soviet Union might be reversed. To meet such a prospect, military leaders under the aegis of General Colin Powell developed the Base Force which was duly blessed by the Pentagons civilian leadership. The first Clinton administration, recognizing the Soviet collapse and watching Russias fragmenting periphery, abandoned the notion of reversibility and with the Bottom-Up Review shifted focus. Instead of war on the plains of Europe, they envisaged a recurrence of conflict either in a still unsettled Persian Gulf or on the Korean peninsula. These are the two implicit major regional conflicts MRCs at the core of the Bottom-Up Review. Persian Gulf volatility and North Korean militarism make both conflicts plausible. Plausible too was the first Clinton administrations assumption that either conflict might trigger the other, especially if American forces appeared thinly spread. The possibility of war in Korea and the Gulf occurring simultaneously dictated the size and shape of our forces and in part still does.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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