Vince Crawley's Africa Blog

Africa and the U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on March 5, 2014

NOTE: By my count, Africa or African is mentioned 21 times in the newly released Quadrennial Defense Review, including two mentions of the African Union and one mention, in a photo caption, of the Central African Republic.

The text below highlights sections of the QDR that mention U.S. defense policy toward Africa. In most contexts throughout the 88-page document, Africa is mentioned alongside the Middle East as a region of instability. This is intended as a quick summary, not a comprehensive analysis. Other aspects of the Quadrennial Defense Review may also impact U.S. defense strategy in Africa. The full document, 3.5 Megabytes in PDF format, is available at the following link:

A bit of background: The QDR was released March 4, 2014, in connection with the administration’s annual defense budget proposal to Congress. The QDR is a strategic review originally intended to provide a rationale for the size and configuration of U.S. armed forces. The review takes place every four years and first began with the Bottom Up Review under the late Defense Secretary Les Aspin in 1993 to develop a strategic framework for shaping the
U.S. military in a post-Cold War environment. Successive administrations have conducted a review at the beginning of each four-year presidential term.

Quadrennial Defense Review 2014

 “… The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) seeks to adapt, reshape, and rebalance our military to prepare for the strategic challenges and opportunities we face in the years ahead. … ”

 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel introduction memo.

Pages v, vi (3rd and 4th pages of the Executive Summary):

Building on the Defense Strategic Guidance

The United States exercises global leadership in support of our interests: U.S. security and that of our allies and partners; a strong economy in an open economic system; respect for universal values; and an international order that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through cooperation. Protecting and advancing these interests, consistent with the National Security

Strategy, the 2014 QDR embodies the 21st century defense priorities outlined in the 2012

Defense Strategic Guidance. These priorities include rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region to preserve peace and stability in the region; maintaining a strong commitment to security and stability in Europe and the Middle East; sustaining a global approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats, with an emphasis on the Middle East and Africa; continuing to protect and prioritize key investments in technology while our forces overall grow smaller and leaner; and invigorating efforts to build innovative partnerships and strengthen key alliances and partnerships. The 2014 QDR builds on these priorities and incorporates them into a broader strategic framework. The Department’s defense strategy emphasizes three pillars:

  • Protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and to support civil authorities in mitigating the effects of potential attacks and natural disasters.
  • Build security globally, in order to preserve regional stability, deter adversaries, support allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.
  • Project power and win decisively, to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist networks, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

These pillars are mutually reinforcing and interdependent, and all of the military Services play important roles in each. Our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate protection against a nuclear attack on the United States, and through extended deterrence, it also serves to reassure our distant allies of their security against regional aggression. It also supports our ability to project power by communicating to potential nuclear-armed adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression. Building security globally not only assures allies and partners and builds their capacity but also helps protect the homeland by deterring conflict and increasing stability in regions like the Middle East and North Africa. Our ability to project forces to combat terrorism in places as far away as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Mali – and to build capacity to help partners counter terrorism and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – reduces the likelihood that these threats could find their way to U.S. shores.

Page xiii

… In the near term, U.S. forces will remain actively engaged in building partnerships and enhancing stability in key regions, but our engagement will be even more tailored and selective. We will continue to sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa. (more…)