GAO has assessed documents used by DoD in previous efforts to rebalance to the Pacific and found that they included most of the desired elements of an effective national strategy.
The U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which is responsible for the Asia-Pacific region, used DoD strategy documents to implement the president’s direction to rebalance to the Pacific, which generally refocused U.S. efforts to that region. PACOM officials told GAO that there was no single rebalance-specific strategy document. Instead, officials identified a number of strategy documents published since 2012 that guided activities associated with the rebalance to the Pacific, including: Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense; Quadrennial Defense Review; National Military Strategy; Guidance for the Employment of the Force; Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan; and the PACOM 2015 Theater Campaign Plan (DRAFT) .
GAO found that DoD’s six strategy documents that guided the rebalance to the Pacific included 24 of the 31 desired elements of an effective national strategy. However, two key elements were missing from the group of strategy documents which were a definition of the rebalance to the Pacific and the identification of the overall results desired, or end state, for the rebalance. DoD officials also could not identify a definition for the rebalance to the Pacific in the strategy documents or provide a definition that was used consistently across the department.
A DoD official with performance management responsibilities stated that defining the rebalance to the Pacific and identifying the initiative’s strategic objectives, or end state, were important for establishing accountability and measuring progress. For instance, a clear definition of rebalance could have helped those charged with implementation to distinguish activities essential to operationalizing the strategic guidance from activities that were peripheral to that effort. Similarly, knowing the end state could have helped management make the best use of resources, enable the assessment of progress, and facilitate the development of strategic and military objectives. In moving forward in the Asia-Pacific region, considering the identification of strategic end states as well as other missing elements could help position DoD to achieve its objectives in the region.