American Strategy: Issues and Alternatives for the Quadrennial Defense Review

  • September 01, 2000
  • Dr Steven Metz

The combination of a congressionally-mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a change of presidents, and shifts in the global security environment will force or allow American strategists to rethink some of the basic elements of U.S. strategy and decide if any changes need to be made. It is vital that the defense transformation process be strategy driven rather than dictated by budgets or technology alone. In other words, the first step in assessing the status and the future of American strategy is to examine the concepts and broad alternatives on which it is built. In this monograph, the author begins with a survey of the evolution of American defense strategy since the end of the Cold War. He then describes some the key issues which will shape the upcoming QDR and assesses a range of strategic alternatives ranging from the existing strategy to some new and innovative ones. For each alternative, he describes the key assumptions and the risks involved. He ends with a slate of recommendations including a controlled shift away from the focus on large-scale regional war with rogue states.