Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today’s hearing on the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.  Before I make my opening statement, I would like to take a moment to address the shooting at Ft. Hood yesterday. Today, we are saddened by the news of another deadly shooting at Ft. Hood. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of those who were killed or injured. As a society, we continue to struggle to understand how and why events like this take place and how we can prevent them in the future. We must get a grasp on this problem. We should also take a moment to recognize the brave Military Police officer who confronted the shooter. Without her, other lives would have been lost.

 

 “Admiral Winnefeld, Deputy Undersecretary Wormuth.  Welcome, both of you.  Admiral, it is good to see you again.  Ms. Wormuth, although I addressed you as Deputy Undersecretary, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that you have been nominated to be the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and that your nomination was recently reported out by our colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Congratulations on that accomplishment, and we all look forward to the next time you appear before this committee, hopefully in your new position.

There has been much criticism leveled at this, and prior, Quadrennial Defense Reviews.  Members believe that the reviews are overly constrained by resources, that the reports do not fully meet the congressional intent, and that no QDR has really presented a 20 year strategy as required by law.

 

“To some extent, I believe some of these criticisms are unfair.  All strategies, for example, are constrained by resources to some degree.  Many of the congressional critics of the current QDR suggest that it was constrained by the President’s defense budget, but fail to note that Congress already imposed severe budgetary limits, limits which this institution seems to have no interest in repealing.  The authors of the QDR and the developers of the President’s Defense Budget actually deserve credit for pushing back on these limits, by explicitly noting the dangers to the defense strategy of sequestration and for requesting additional funds to carry out the defense strategy outlined by the QDR--$26 Billion more this year and another $115 Billion across the FYDP above the levels contained Budget Control Act and Bipartisan Budget Act . 

 

“Other criticisms are technically more accurate.  While the QDR, we are told, looked at threats and security trends likely to occur over the next 20 years, the report does not contain a defense program for that far into the future.  Similarly, the public QDR report does not explicitly address each of the elements required by law.  Frankly, the problems here seem more likely to be with the law requiring the QDR and the report than with the drafters.  Technology and events have been changing far too fast to allow anyone to draft a 20 year defense program with any useful specificity.  And the legal requirement for the report contains 17 elements, some of which are so far down in the weeds as be neither a significant part of any defense strategy nor a particularly useful way to make the Department spend its time.

 

“None of this is to suggest that the QDR, either the process or the report is perfect.  In fact, like all of its predecessors, it is flawed.  For example, I would hope that a defense strategy would give us a better sense of prioritization among military missions.  The Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG) contained a list of priorities, but without real order or weighting.  The QDR contains even less.  Some sense of the Department’s view of priorities and how they are valued would contribute much to the discussion of how we defend our nation and out interests. 

 

“Members today will, and should discuss their criticisms and concerns with the QDR.  But I hope that we do not lose sight of what the QDR represents and what we should be discussing—an effort to build a viable defense strategy for this country and the best way to do that.  I hope all members leave here both with an understanding of the QDR and some sense of ways we can make this process better in the future. 

 

“Again, I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing here today.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

 

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