Jul 29 2010
Chairman Skelton's Opening Statement
The Final Report of the Independent Panel's Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review
Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton
Final Report of the Independent Panel's Assessment of the
Quadrennial Defense Review
|July 29, 2010|
“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.
“Today we receive the panel’s final report, as required by last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. This is the fourth QDR-oversight related event this committee has held and I think that reflects just how important we consider the QDR to be.
“I would like to tell you right at the outset how impressed I am with this report. It will take several close readings to fully digest all of the panel’s findings and recommendations, but I have to say you have clearly met Congress’ intent here. Furthermore, that this bipartisan panel of experts has unanimously endorsed the entire report is a testament to the co-chairs’ wisdom and leadership. Thank you very much.
“As I mentioned at our last hearing, the report of the QDR is an important input into how Congress conducts its oversight on the Department of Defense. Conducting that review is an enormous task and I’ll take a moment to once again commend Secretary Gates on his leadership there. He, rightly in my opinion, focused his effort on winning the wars we are in today.
“But we cannot do that at the expense of preparing for the future, and there I am concerned that the QDR came up a bit short. I see that the Independent Panel has come to about the same conclusion. I hope we use our time today to explore those findings and hear your recommendations, so that Congress can get on with our critical task of providing appropriate resources for our national security.
“I see, for example, that you recommend an increase in our force structure in the Asia-Pacific area, and specifically highlight the need for a larger navy. Of course, I have been making the very same point for years now, and so I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we should improve our posture in that regard.
“On the other hand, I was very surprised to see the report indicate that you thought the current end-strength of our active duty ground forces – the Army and Marines – is sufficient. I respect your opinion, but I find that difficult to believe.
“Watching the toll these wars have placed on our forces, I have been an advocate for increasing force strength for quite a while now. I would caution against being too optimistic about the demand for these forces in the future, and would like to hear the reasoning behind the panel’s position.
“I know we will get into the specifics of that recommendation and many others, but first I’d like to say that as a longtime supporter of the professional military education system and the Goldwater-Nichols personnel reforms in the DOD, I was encouraged to see how thoroughly the Review Panel treated those topics.
“You make a lot of very interesting recommendations: establishing an interagency assignment exchange program; incentives to encourage civilian national security professionals to participate in such a program; and the creation of a consortium of schools and universities to develop and teach a common national security education curriculum. I believe such steps are the only way to create effective, long-lasting cultural change in our stovepiped national security system—we must focus on the people.
“The Review Panel has charged Congress to act on these important recommendations. I encourage my colleagues to strongly consider their recommendations. As the Panel’s report says, our national security system was designed for a world that has long since disappeared. We must find a new approach to meet the dynamic and complex threats of today. These interagency national security personnel reforms recommended by the Panel are a good place to start.
“Now, let me turn this over to the Ranking Member, Mr. McKeon of California.”