2006 Quadrennial Defense Review: Shifting Emphasis

March 6, 2006

The Department of Defense (DoD) has been in a continuous state of change since 11 September 2001; this is reflected in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report released 3 February 2006. Senior civilian and military leaders at DoD used the report as a medium to address the need to “find, fix and finish” combat operations in an era of the unpredictable. Throughout the report, the phrase “the long war” is used by Pentagon officials to describe the irregular nature of current operations that requires the U.S. military to adopt unconventional and indirect approaches to warfighting.

The QDR is conducted by DoD senior military and civilian officials to notify Congress of where DoD is and where it needs to be to best execute its responsibilities and missions. It is an opportunity to refine the balance between people and technology, and between the current and future forces. The 2006 QDR is the third since Congress commissioned a review of the long-term vision of DoD to be submitted every four years; the first report was released in 1997. The second, in 2001, required lastminute revisions after the 11 September terrorist attacks. The 2006 review is unique because it is the first to be written while the nation is at war, the first to be written by a Secretary of Defense who had four years of experience in office1 before drafting the QDR, and the first to be submitted to Congress along with the President’s Budget.

Senior DoD leaders used the 2006 report to focus on challenges that transcend the responsibilities and authorities of DoD, such as homeland defense, the war on terrorism, stability operations and postconflict reconstruction. The review also serves as a platform from which Defense officials can stress that success depends on the men and women in uniform.