The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

The Long View: QDR 2006

February 5, 2006

The US Quadrennial Defense Review is finally out (only a year late, but who’s counting).

Some of the highlights include a shift in the “two-war doctrine”–which envisioned the US being able to battle in two seperate wars with the option of regime change in one–so that one of the major conflicts can be a protracted war against an insurgency. The document also argues that the composition of US forces must shift, incorporating larger numbers (increase of 15%) of Special Operations Forces that can take part in numerous on-going operations around the globe simultaneously. The emphasis is on SOF’s ability to “locate, tag and track dangerous individuals and other high-value targets globally,” especially in ‘denied areas’.

Beyond the focus on irregular threats and terrorist networks lies a discussion of “Shaping the Choices of Countries at Strategic Crossroads”. The broader focus is on states in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, but the specific focus is on Inida, Russia, and of course China.

India is of course courted and touted as a strategic partner. Mention is made of our concern with the “erosion of democracy in Russia, the curtailment of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and freedom of the press, the centralization of political power and limits on economic freedom.”

China is discussed as the greatest potential military competitor. The report notes that China continues to increase its military spending and is attemptig to acquire the technology necessary to project power from its own borders (what emerging great power wouldn’t, one must ask at this point). What I find most interesting here is the nod to the importance that the uncertainty of motivations plays (read Security Dilemma). The QDR notes, “Secrecy, moreover, envelops most aspects of Chinese security affairs. The outside world has little knowledge of Chinese motivations and decision-making or of key capabilities supporting its military modernization. Th e United States encourages China to take actions to make its intentions clear and clarify its military plans.” Easier said than done.

Finally, there is some discussion of preventing the proliferation of WMD, complete with a ready-made quote from Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the destruction of Israel and a world without the US (he really does make it too easy). From their the document goes on to talk about force specifics. I’ll let you read that for yourself, too much to summarize.

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Petti is Associate Director of Insights and Analytics at Alexion . Previously, he served as Lead Data Scientist in the Decision Sciences group at Maritz Motivation and a Global Data Strategist and Subject Matter Expert for Gallup.