ARLINGTON, Va. (Feb. 1, 2010) -- A National Guard that has been vital to national defense for the past eight years will remain an operational force, according to the Department of Defense's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review released today.

"Preventing and deterring conflict will likely necessitate the continued use of some elements of the Reserve Component ... in an operational capacity well into the future," the QDR states.

The QDR is a legislatively mandated review of DoD strategy and priorities that occurs every four years.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates delivered the 2010 QDR report to Congress today. It is the fourth QDR since the 1997 act that made it mandatory and the second conducted in wartime.

"Over the past eight years, the National Guard and Reserves have consistently demonstrated their readiness and ability to make sustained contributions to ongoing operations," the QDR states.

"We don't want to put our National Guard back on the shelf like we've done after every major war our nation's been in," said Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. "We're going to have a demand on our National Guard for the foreseeable future."

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, which established the QDR, also required that it be conducted in consultation with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We could not have accomplished what we have these past eight years were it not for our Reserve and National Guard forces," Navy Adm. Michael Mullen wrote in his formal assessment of the QDR.

The QDR commits to a comprehensive assessment of reserve component policies.

"In that review, it is important that we consider the proper balance of maintaining the operational capabilities and strategic depth of the Reserve component as an integrated force to meet requirements across the full spectrum of conflict," Mullen wrote. "Access to the Reserve Component remains a critical lever for meeting global operational demands without substantially increasing the size of the active force."

The QDR also contemplates a reorganization of the nation's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives response packages, or CBRNE.

It outlines a plan to draw on existing National Guard forces to build a homeland response force in each of the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions. HRFs would provide a regional response capability, focus on planning, training and exercises and forge links between federal state and local authorities.

"The challenges facing the United States today and in the future will require us to employ National Guard and Reserve forces as an operational reserve to fulfill requirements for which they are well-suited in the United States and overseas," the QDR states. "The National Guard often serves at the forefront of [DoD] operations."

Until the attacks of 9/11, the National Guard was viewed as a strategic reserve. Following the attacks, the Guard underwent a no-notice transformation to an operational force.

The QDR portrays a future where the Guard will be a little of both. "The department will seek ways to rebalance its reliance on the Reserve component to ensure the long-term viability of a force that has both strategic and operational capabilities," the QDR states.

"Using the National Guard ... will lower overall personnel and operating costs, better ensure the right mix and availability of equipment, provide more efficient and effective use of defense assets and contribute to the sustainability of both the Active and Reserve components," the QDR states.

The QDR's defense objectives for the United States are to prevail in today's wars, prevent or deter conflict, prepare to defeat adversaries and succeed in a wide range of contingencies and preserve and enhance the all-volunteer force.

The document outlines six key missions:

Aca,!Ac Defending the United States and supporting civil authorities at home
Aca,!Ac Succeeding in counterinsurgency, stability and counter-terrorism operations
Aca,!Ac Building the security capacity of partner states
Aca,!Ac Deterring and defeating aggression in anti-access environments
Aca,!Ac Preventing the proliferation of and countering weapons of mass destruction
Aca,!Ac Operating effectively in cyberspace

The DoD will support the Department of Homeland Security and civil authorities in domestic operations, the QDR states.

With a strong emphasis on "taking care of our people," the QDR anticipates a deployment tempo of five years demobilized for every one year mobilized for National Guard units, Gates said.