House panel: Defense review lacks priorities

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review received a chilly reception Thursday from the House Armed Services Committee, with members from both parties complaining that it lacks clear priorities and calls for too few forces to meet the future threats and missions envisioned.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., called the QDR "superior" to previous documents updating national defense strategy, military force structure and modernization plans and praised its focus on a force able to counter more than one threat at a time.

But Skelton complained that it seemed to require a force "capable of being all things in all contingencies," which makes it hard for the committee to determine what the priorities are and which of the many possible risks are the most important.

"This makes our task much more difficult, because although the QDR should not be budget-constrained, the plain fact is that resources are not unlimited" and the QDR "comes up short" on giving Congress any guidance on how to make the essential tradeoffs, he said.

Armed Services Committee ranking member Howard (Buck) McKeon, R-Calif., echoed those concerns, repeating his protest that the QDR's focus on winning the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan short-changed the forces needed for the future.

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, director for force structure and resources for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted that the QDR did set priorities. But they acknowledged that the forces had to be flexible and adaptable to respond to the wide range of possible threats.

Skelton said the scope of missions described appeared to require a larger Army and Marine Corps, and McKeon asked how the current force would handle a major contingency, such as North Korea, while involved in those conflicts.

Flournoy said that because Iraq and Afghanistan involved mainly the Army and Marines, the Navy and Air Force would be able to respond to a threat from North Korea.

But McKeon replied that the QDR and the fiscal 2011 budget cut the size of the Air Force and did not enlarge the Navy.

Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor, D-Miss., also complained that the QDR did not allow the Navy to reach the 313-ship fleet it wanted, and asked why it called for retiring the Perry-class frigates when they could fill missions such as the antipiracy patrols off Somalia.

Taylor warned the defense officials to expect "a shot across the bow" from his panel in legislation that would require them to propose building two new ships for every ship they planned to retire.

Virginia lawmakers demanded to know if the officials regarded anticipated funding shortfalls for ships and aircraft as less important than spending as much as $1 billion to move an aircraft carrier from its home port in Norfolk, Va., to Mayport, Fla. Flournoy could not provide an immediate answer.

In response to a question about the Marine leaders' concerns over their fading amphibious capabilities, Stanley said the QDR supported amphibious operations to ensure that U.S. forces can enter hostile areas to neutralize a threat. And he said the expeditionary fighting vehicle, which has been repeatedly delayed, will be a part of that capability.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.