National Defense Strategy

The National Defense Strategy (or NDS) is used to establish the objectives for military planning regarding force structure, force modernization, business processes, supporting infrastructure, and required resources (funding and manpower). The NDS plays a key role in identifying the capabilities required by the warfighters to support the National Security Strategy (NSS).  As the DoD’s capstone document, National Defense Strategy informs the National Military Strategy (NMS), and provides a framework for other DoD strategic guidance, including campaign and contingency planning, force development, and intelligence.

According to the Historian of the Department of Defense, the NDS was officially mandated by Congress in Section 941 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2017 (Public Law 114-328), and in accordance with the National Security Act of 1947, replacing the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). However, there have been a total of four NDS reports, with the first issued in 2005 in order to further develop the concepts articulated in the QDRs. According to PL 114-328, The NDS is prepared by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and must be published every four years. In addition to describing DoD will contribute to achieving NSS objectives, the NDS is also required to discuss the global strategic environment, force posture, and the role of the U.S. in global security.

National Defense Strategy, 2005

National Defense Strategy 2008

Defense Strategic Guidance 2012

National Defense Strategy 2018