The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), released today, comes at a time of turbulence and uncertainty for the US national security community. The document is meant to chart a course for the Department of Defense as it contends with multiple challenges and opportunities around the globe. In a time of defense budget austerity, the Pentagon must learn to “do more with less,” which includes right-sizing the force. US and coalition forces will drawdown from Afghanistan at the end of the year, and the status of the commitment is still in limbo as President Obama and President Karzai tussle over the Bilateral Security Agreement. Further, as a tumultuous Middle East continues to roil, the United States aims to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region while keeping its commitments to allies, especially in Europe.

Some see the QDR as a “lowest-common denominator” document focusing on the few items upon which those in the Executive and Legislative branch can agree. Others say this is a forward-looking assessment that prepares the United States “for a post-Afghanistan world.” To parse the rhetoric from the facts, and to analyze what the QDR will mean for US defense in the future, Atlantic Council experts Barry Pavel, Mathew Burrows, and Steven Grundman will be joined by former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright and Defense News Editor Vago Muradian.


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