The Defense Department has not created a “red team” to challenge assumptions and analysis in the Quadrennial Defense Review, fueling speculation that it might instead seek critiques from a congressionally chartered panel that will assess the QDR as it unfolds.

In both the 2006 and 2010 QDRs, the Office of Net Assessment, led by Andrew Marshall, played a leading role in red teams that provided alternative analysis to the defense secretary. But so far, there are no plans to repeat that effort in the current QDR. “At this time, the Office of Net Assessment has not been asked to participate in the QDR,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said. Another DOD spokesman declined to comment on whether the department might establish a red team for the 2014 QDR. Pentagon officials confirmed no red team has been established to date/…/

The 2006 QDR “benefited greatly” from its red team, the Government Accountability Office found. “The benefit was derived from open discussions that produced a trusting and free environment for red team members to challenge assumptions and analysis,” the congressional watchdog wrote at the time. “To create such an environment, non-attribution was critical. Red team members and the Department’s leadership knew their opinions, debates, and recommendations were protected.”

“The red team was . . . where we got the big changes,” recounted former DOD official Jim Thomas, the principal author of the 2006 QDR report to Congress, now with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “That’s where we got the expansion of [special operations forces],” he said at a CSIS panel discussion earlier this year. “That’s where we got new programs to be able to operate from range. That’s where we got, particularly on the black side, some really important changes, especially in the electronic warfare and the information environments.”