QDR to focus on Defense networks, transformation

The state of future warfare was debated quite a bit in the run up to the Quadrennial Defense Review, a senior official said, but in the end networks and information security scored big as key areas of focus.

The review, which will be presented to Congress Feb. 6, concurrently with the 2007 Defense budget request, will challenge the status quo by examining whether Defense capabilities, organizations and missions are adequate to counter 21st-century threats, according to John Grimes, Defense CIO.

'This is a QDR of ideas, not just programs,' said Grimes, who said he has spent the past six weeks working on the review. 'Keep in mind that the QDR reflects a continuum of change that has gathered significant momentum since 2001. This change is reflected in the shift away from size, predictability and mass toward agility, speed and precision that continues to characterize the overall operations of the Department of
Defense and our programs will keep pace.'

The QDR is a report DOD produces every four years that lays out their 20-year projection for transformation. In the 2001 QDR, Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for increased spending on technology and a bigger focus on space and cyberspace programs.

Former Defense officials have said the new QDR would most likely draw on lessons learned from the war against terrorism, seeking to identify new technologies that will be instrumental in aiding warfighters. They added that the review would stress the need to prepare for conventional, irregular, disruptive and catastrophic threats.

Linton Wells II, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for network and information integration, said the review went beyond the program and budget level to address new strategic needs for the nation's military. In the future, DOD will depend more on speed and agility than on brute force to address emerging threats, Wells said during his opening keynote address at the Black Hat Federal Briefings in Arlington, Va., last month.

'That is why the network, which allows you to use your forces in nonconventional ways, is one of the keys to change in the quadrennial review,' Wells said.

But he warned that today's DOD networks are vulnerable and under attack. Some of the attackers are believed to be nations.

'We know our adversaries have the networks in their sights,' Wells said. 'We have to assume we are facing a patient, skilled and well-financed adversary.'

To boost security, the DOD budgeted $77 million for six years beginning in 2007 to fund new training and certification requirements for systems administrators, said Rick Aldrich, who works in network defense in the Defense Department. An additional $500 million has been requested for IT security initiatives resulting from the department's most recent quadrennial review.

This money is in addition to the $2 billion now being spent annually on information assurance from the DOD's $30 billion IT budget.

Recently, Rumsfeld explained that the idea of the 2006 QDR is to build on the changes and momentum since the last report.

'The Quadrennial Defense Review, in particular, should be seen as the next step in a long line of significant changes, many of which have been accomplished in the last five years, others of which are in process,' Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon briefing. 'It should not be seen as some sort of a new menu for program adjustments. The overriding goal is to keep our country safe and to support the missions of the dedicated men and women in uniform.'

About the Authors

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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