I recently finished NDU’s Convergence, which is a collection of monographs on illicit networks. Queued up right behind it New Directions in U.S. National Security Strategy, Defense Plans, and Diplomacy: A Review of Official Strategic Documents, which I finished a first review of last night.
The book collects seven important strategic studies and provides some commentary on each. These include, in chronological order of release:
Quadrennial Defense Review Report – DoD, February 2010. 128 pages.
Ballistic Missile Defense Report – DoD, February 2010. 61 pages.
Nuclear Posture Review – DoD, April 2010. 72 pages.
National Security Strategy – White House, May 2010. 60 pages.
NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement – NATO experts, May 2010. 58 pages.
Quadrennial Defense Review Perspective Report – United States Institute of Peace, at the behest of SecDef, July 2010. 159 pages.
Leading Through Civilians Power: The First Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review – State Department, December 2010. 242 pages.
A broader context is required here. Barack Obama was elected in November of 2008. There is an end of year lull, then these reports are started in January of 2009, after Hillary Clinton was approved as Secretary of State. Obama left Robert Gates in place as Secretary of Defense. The QDR comes in first, closely followed by two companion reports. The White House then releases their National Security Strategy, advised in part by the DoD studies.
The NATO document involves the U.S. but it’s May release was timed to provide six months of review before the NATO summit that November in Lisbon. The July QDR Perspective was done at the behest of the Secretary of Defense in response to criticisms leveled at the QDR itself. The State Department issued it’s first Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review in December.
Obama’s win in November of 2012, then the nomination and approval of Secretary of Defense Hagel in February 2013 and Secretary of State John Kerry in March of 2013 are what set the stage for the next round of updates, due in the spring of 2014.
New Directions is just 178 pages and I chose to not read the nuclear and missile report portions, counting that as excess detail at this time. The seven reports themselves total 780 pages. I also noticed and curated the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, which was released concurrent with the QDR in February of 2010. Since DHS is internal their report has no place in the assessment of our outward facing strategy.
I have roughly a nine month window to read and understand 958 pages of dense, high level material before the next update begins to arrive. I immediately see the usual set of issues that arise with any of our strategic planning.