A central objective of the review was to shift the basis of defense planning from a "threat-based" model that has dominated
thinking in the past to a "capabilities-based" model for the future. This capabilities-based model focuses more on how an
adversary might fight rather than specifically whom the adversary might be or where a war might occur. It recognizes that
it is not enough to plan for large conventional wars in distant theaters. Instead, the United States must identify the capabilities
required to deter and defeat adversaries who will rely on surprise, deception, and asymmetric warfare to achieve their objectives.
Adopting this capabilities-based approach to planning requires that the nation maintain its military advantages in key
areas while it develops new areas of military advantage and denies asymmetric advantages to adversaries. It entails adapting
existing military capabilities to new circumstances, while experimenting with the development of new military capabilities.
In short, it requires the transformation of U.S. forces, capabilities, and institutions to extend America's asymmetric advantages
well into the future.
Transforming America's defense for the 21st century will require a longstanding commitment from our country and its leaders.
Transformation is not a goal for tomorrow, but an endeavor that must be embraced in earnest today. The challenges the Nation
faces do not loom in the distant future, but are here now. They involve protecting our critical bases of operation - including
the most critical base of operation, the U.S. homeland - and projecting and sustaining U.S. forces in distant antiaccess environments.
They entail assuring U.S. information systems and providing persistent surveillance, tracking, and rapid engagement of adversary
forces and capabilities. They require enhancing the capability and survivability of U.S. space systems and leveraging information
technology and new concepts to provide for more effective joint operations.
Of necessity, our efforts will begin relatively small, but will grow significantly in pace and intensity. And over time,
the full promise of transformation will be realized as we divest ourselves of legacy forces and they move off the stage and
resources move into new concepts, capabilities, and organizations that maximize our warfighting effectiveness and the combat
potential of America's men and women in uniform. This will not be a simple task. It requires steadfastness of purpose and
the freedom to manage effectively and efficiently. It will require new tools to manage the Defense Department and an overhaul
of existing approaches.
To support the transformation of the U.S. Armed Forces and to better manage the full range of activities of the Defense
Department, the Quadrennial Defense Review identified a new approach to assessing and managing risk. This new approach will
help to ensure that the Department of Defense is better able to meet near-term threats even as it invests in capabilities
needed to safeguard the nation's future security.
This Quadrennial Defense Review was the product of the senior civilian and military leadership of the Department of Defense.
It benefited from extensive consultation with the President of the United States. It was truly "top down" in that the decisions
taken on strategy, forces, capabilities, and risks resulted from months of deliberations and consultation among the most senior
Defense Department leadership. This report outlines the key changes needed to preserve America's safety and security in the
years to come.
The Quadrennial Defense Review and the accompanying report were largely completed before the September 11, 2001 terror
attacks on the United States. In important ways, these attacks confirm the strategic direction and planning principles that
resulted from this review, particularly its emphasis on homeland defense, on surprise, on preparing for asymmetric threats,
on the need to develop new concepts of deterrence, on the need for a capabilities-based strategy, and on the need to balance
deliberately the different dimensions of risk. However, the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 will require
us to move forward more rapidly in these directions, even while we are engaged in the war against terrorism.
The vast array of complex policy, operational, and even constitutional issues concerning how we organize and prepare
to defend the American people are now receiving unprecedented attention throughout the United States government. Importantly,
since the scope of homeland security responsibilities span an array of federal, state, and local organizations, it also
will require enhanced inter-agency processes and capabilities to effectively defend the United States against attacks. The
recent establishment of the Office of Homeland Security will galvanize this vital effort.
Thus, this report represents not so much an end but a beginning. Even as this report is concluded, the Department of
Defense is engaged in the process of reviewing and implementing the directions set forth here through the Defense Department's
military planning and resource allocation processes. These efforts, in turn, will allow the Defense Department leadership
the opportunity to build upon and refine the decisions taken as the result of this review.
Finally, the loss of life and damage to our economy from the attack of September 11, 2001 should give us a new perspective
on the question of what this country can afford for its defense. It would be reckless to press our luck with false economies
or gamble with our children's future. This nation can afford to spend what is needed to deter the adversaries of tomorrow
and to underpin our prosperity. Those costs do not begin to compare with the cost in human lives and resources if we fail
to do so.
As we contend with the difficult challenges of the war on terrorism, we must also proceed on the path of transforming
America's defense. Our commitment to the nation will be unwavering and our purpose clear: to provide for the safety and well
being of all Americans and to honor America's commitments worldwide. As in generations before, the skill of our armed forces,
their devotion to duty, and their willingness to sacrifice are at the core of our nation's strength. We must provide them
with the resources and support that they need to safeguard peace and security not only for our generation but for generations
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
Read the report in full: