Each of the three defense reviews of the last decade fell short of fully apprehending the demands of the emerging threat environment, and the budgets that would be needed and afforded, resulting in a growing imbalance between strategy, forces, and resources over the decade.
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This is the final report for a Project AIR FORCE study entitled "WhereIs the United States Air Force Post-Base Force, Post-BUR, and Post-QDR?"The research was sponsored by the Air Force Deputy Chief ofStaff, Air and Space Operations, and was performed within theAerospace Force Development Program of Project AIR FORCE.The report summarizes a comparative historical review of the threemajor force structure reviews of the 1990s: the 1989-1990 BaseForce, the 1993 Bottom-Up Review (BUR), and the 1997 QuadrennialDefense Review (QDR). It describes key assumptions, decisions, andoutcomes of these reviews, focusing on elements related to strategy,forces, and resources, and summarizes key lessons learned.The research engendered a comparative case study of the three de-fensereviews, where inputs (assumptions about threats, strategy,budgets) could be compared both with outputs (decisions and otheroutcomes of each review) and with actual implementation experi-ence.Wherever possible, the historical inquiry was grounded inempirical data on budgets, force structure, manpower, and other is-sues.Despite their inherent limitations, the primary source materi-alsfor the research were official documents, including the reports,briefings, press conferences, and other outputs of the reviews them-selves,as well as planning and budget documents, testimony, mem-orandaand other records of the reviews, and their implementation.These were supplemented by other materials as necessary. In con-ductingthis research, the authors considered and rejected an inter-view-based approach to the analysis, because many defense issues(e.g., readiness) remained contentious, and the principals involved inkey decisions remained active partisans in these debates. The re-search was conducted during fiscal year 2000, with only modest ef-fortsmade to update the material thereafter.The report should be of interest to policymakers, planners, and oth-ersinvolved in the defense reviews of 2001 and to defense analystsand scholars.Project AIR FORCEProject AIR FORCE, a division of RAND, is the Air Force federallyfunded research and development center (FFRDC) for studies andanalysis. It provides the Air Force with independent analyses of pol-icyalternatives affecting the development, employment, combatreadiness, and support of current and future aerospace forces. Re-searchis performed in four programs: Aerospace Force Develop-ment;Manpower, Personnel, and Training; Resource Management;and Strategy and Doctrine.About the Author:
Eric Larson (Ph.D., Policy Analysis, Rand Graduate School) is a policy analyst at Rand with nearly two decades of experience, primarily in national security and foreign affairs. David T. Orletsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SM, Aeronautics and Astronautics) is an Associate Engineer, at Rand, Washington, DC. His research interests include Chinese defense modernization; command and control sensor, weapon, and communication technology; and USAF operational analysis. Kristin Leuschner (Ph.D., English, UCLA, 1992) is a communications analyst at Rand.
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