Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff
to review, clarify service roles and missions
By JASON SHERMAN, Special Correspondent
Division of Labor
The 2008 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review will assess “core
competencies and capabilities” of the Defense Department as well
as areas where lawmakers believe “the responsibilities of the various components of the department have become confused.”
■ The Pentagon will conduct these assessments every four
years, between Quadrennial Defense Reviews.
■ Areas of interest for the sea services may include the Navy
maintaining its fleet battle networks and how the Marine Corps
can be optimized for irregular warfare.
■ Critics maintain regular roles and missions reviews will invite
internecine bureaucratic battles.
The Navy and Marine Corps have established
new permanent offices in the Pentagon to get
a leg up on next year’s Quadrennial Defense
Review (QDR), a high-stakes assessment of strategy,
force structure and resources that is set to be launched
soon after a new administration takes office.
While the next White House likely will focus intensely on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are
ground-centric, right out of the gate, part of the assignment for the new Navy and Marine Corps shops is to
work to ensure their new political masters clearly understand the contributions of today’s naval forces as well as
the capabilities the sea services plan for tomorrow.
But before a Barack Obama or John McCain transition team sets up shop this fall, these new offices have
a major assignment with significant resource and
strategic implications: represent their services in a
review of military roles and missions.
This congressionally mandated assessment could
trigger major bureaucratic turf wars this summer
among the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps,
according to Pentagon officials.
Launched in May, the 2008 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review is
a two-part project: an assessment of
“core competencies and capabilities”
of the Defense Department as well as
a review of seven specific areas
where lawmakers believe the division of labor among the military
services has become unclear.
“The primary purpose of the
[roles and missions review] is to
develop recommendations for
aligning the functions and core
competencies of the armed forces
and other appropriate DoD components to improve the effectiveness
of joint operations, increase joint
synergy and create opportunities for
efficient investment of the department’s resources,”
according to the guidance document for the assessment
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved May 8.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and
the Joint Staff, with the participation of all the services
and defense agencies, are leading the review.
One of Gates’ final acts as Pentagon chief will be to
sign a report in December recommending to Congress
actions that can be taken to realign the division of
labor among the services, giving the Bush administration’s OSD officials a parting opportunity to influence
the shape of the defense bureaucracy.
First of Many
For the military services, this summer’s review is a
warm-up exercise of sorts. The Fiscal Year 2008
Defense Authorization Act directs the Pentagon to conduct such assessments every four years, with the next
one in 2011, placing these roles and missions reviews
The roles and missions reviews are the brainchild of
Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed