Roles and Missions

The Department of Defense has established the parameters for its forthcoming quadrennial roles and missions review, two senior Pentagon officials told reporters May 8. In addition to the stipulation by Congress that the review address unnecessary duplication of capabilities and effort across the department’s components, DOD has added six more areas of focus (at least three of which immediately touch upon the Air Force): unmanned aircraft systems/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; intratheater lift (including the joint cargo aircraft); and the cyber domain. The remaining three are irregular warfare, internal DOD governance roles and responsibilities, and supporting interagency roles and missions capabilities. The officials said the review will be a leadership-driven process, including participation by the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to avoid “parochial stovepipes.” The combatant commanders and their staffs will also be heavily involved, they said. There will be a team for each of the seven focus areas that will be led both by a Senate-confirmed senior civilian official and a three- or four-star general officer. Impasses over positions will be taken up the leadership chain for resolution, they said. The officials said DOD views the review as “an opportunity” to expand jointness, achieve greater effectiveness, and reduce unnecessary duplication. But one of the officials acknowledged, when asked, that DOD likely will come out of the review with a much better idea of what unnecessary duplication actually means than it has going in. Congress created the roles and missions review in the 2008 defense authorization act, calling for it to take place every four years as a precursor to the broader quadrennial defense review. The R&M review is due to Congress no later than the Pentagon’s submission of its Fiscal 2010 budget request in the first week of February 2009. The officials said DOD anticipates wrapping up the study in late November. But how it is packaged and delivered to Congress likely will be the work of the next Administration, but that is yet to be determined.