Thursday, April 15, 2010

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton - Hearing on the Independent Panel’s Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton - Hearing on the Independent Panel’s Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review
Ike Skelton, Chairman
April 15, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on the Independent Panel’s assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR):

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the House Armed Services Committee. Today we meet to receive testimony from the co-chairmen of the Independent Panel reviewing the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. Joining us today are the Honorable William J. Perry and the Honorable Stephen J. Hadley. Welcome, gentlemen.

“This is the third QDR-oversight related event this committee has held. The first event was a full committee hearing on the QDR, held on February 4, 2010. The second was a classified briefing on additional materials accompanying the QDR held on March 24th.

“Congress created the Independent Panel in the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. It was charged with conducting an assessment of the QDR and presenting its findings to Congress. Last year, we expanded the Panel by adding eight additional members appointed by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee. We also expanded the reporting requirements of the panel. I see the members appointed by the House are in the audience today and I would like to take a moment to recognize them: Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, Dr. Richard Kohn, Senator James Talent and Ambassador Eric Edelman. Thank you all for your service in this effort.

“The report of the QDR is an important input into how Congress conducts its oversight on the Department of Defense. We use it to help us understand how the Department sees future security challenges. We use it to understand how the Department thinks it will meet those challenges, and then we consider where we agree or disagree. When we disagree, and decide to exercise our Constitutional prerogative in the authorization process, we want to be sure we understand the impact of our decision.

“The QDR is a monumental task and Secretary Gates did a good job at leading it. I’ve said before and I’ll say again today that the report is a solid product and superior to the last several iterations. But, I’ve also voiced some concern about it. An independent, bipartisan review is an important process of this assessment. It builds confidence in the objectivity and comprehensiveness of the Department’s processes, findings and recommendations. And it helps illuminate potential flaws. For example, it’s not clear to me that this report, like the ones before it, fully answer the questions that Congress has asked. And, I’m not sure some of the answers it offers are complete. That’s where your panel comes in. We need another set of experts to take a look at it and offer us their best judgment on it. That’s why we were so specific about what input we need from you.

“I understand that the Department experienced considerable delay in getting your Panel put together – not your fault in any way. But, unfortunately you are not as far along in the process as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we hope you are ready to give us some of your initial thoughts. I am particularly interested in your assessment of the basis upon which the Secretary of Defense built this effort. Were the assumptions reasonable, for example? Did the guidance and terms of reference form?

“But, most importantly, we need your assessment of the QDR’s force sizing construct and the force structure. And we need alternates, as well. An important part of our role is understanding the difference in risk and cost present in each option, as we go through our decision making during the authorization process. I was a bit surprised to see that the QDR’s force structure recommendation remained largely unchanged from its present form, so I’m particularly interested in hearing your thoughts what that may mean.

“Now, let me turn this over to the Ranking Member, Mr. McKeon of California.”


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