On Wednesday night I attended a policy event with Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Edmund Giambastiani that previewed the soon-to be-released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The event was hosted by my former employer, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and attracted a packed crowd of defense analysts, contractors, government officials, foreign diplomats, and journalists. This Reuters story summarizes some of the remarks at the event.
The comments dealt only briefly with homeland defense. The single substantive mention on the subject was Adm. Giambastiani’s comment that refinements in the 2005 QDR to the Force Planning Construct were driven primarily by two new imperatives: homeland defense and irregular operations.
But two other key points in their comments are worth noting here, even if they’re slightly off-topic, because I think both will be important in future efforts to wage the war on terror.
First, one of the key themes of England’s remarks was the extent to which the QDR focuses on the need to “reshape the defense enterprise,” and enhance the speed, agility, and precision of the military’s structure, organization, and processes. He talked about the need to shift to horizontal business processes, and have jointness at the front-end of the defense system. And he talked about the need to shift from a program-based perspective to a capabilities-based perspective in the management of the acquisition process.
This is an ambitious management agenda for DOD, but it’s one that’s worth taking on, because if implemented successfully, it could have a dramatic and positive impact on DOD’s effectiveness and efficiency. And it’s also the type of management agenda that DHS should consider adopting: all of the perspectives outlined by England (as summarized above) could readily be applied to DHS.
The second interesting concept in their remarks (and those of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Ryan Henry, who joined them for the Q&A) was the idea of tailored deterrence, an idea that Henry has begun to introduce into the political discourse during recent months; for example, in this speech for IFPA and the accompanying Powerpoint slide deck.
Henry talks in the IFPA speech about the need to develop different models of deterrence for states that are potential competitors, rogue states, and at the greatest degree of difficulty, terrorist networks. He then talks about the process by which you develop deterrence:
- Identify those things which [your adversaries] hold dear, that for the purpose of risk and position, that you can effectively hold at risk.
- Determine exactly where your capabilities can intersect [with what they hold dear], to be able to make a difference, either to impose costs or to deny benefits.
- Communicate [these capabilities] to the target so they clearly understand that we have that tool kit and that we’re willing to use it.
Henry noted in this IFPA talk and at the CSIS event that he’s still trying to figure out what tailored deterrence means as it is applied to terrorists and terror networks. He commented that he wants to work with academics and think tanks in the coming year to continue to develop the concept. Tailored deterrence could potentially become an important idea in the national security canon, and it’s worth keeping an eye on.
For more on tailored deterrence, see Arms Control Wonk’s initial assessment of the idea.