US Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is threatening to withhold 25 percent of the Pentagon's policy office's budget if it does not submit a new version of its quadrennial defense review. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the US House Armed Services Committee has drafted legislation that would require the Defense Department to re-write a major military strategy review that was sent to Congress in March.
If DoD does not re-submit its quadrennial defense review (QDR), Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said he would withhold 25 percent of the Pentagon policy office’s budget.
Since its submission, McKeon has argued that the QDR assumes too much risk, focuses too much on the next five years and is too “heavily constrained by low budget levels.” In his markup of the 2015 defense authorization bill, McKeon said recent QDR reviews “have grown less compliant with the law and strayed further from the intent of Congress.”
DoD officials have said that the document is strategy driven, but “resource informed” — since DoD’s budget is capped at set levels for the remainder of the decade.
“The committee believes the QDR should provide a mechanism for setting the priorities of the Department of Defense, shaping the force, guiding capabilities and resources, and adjusting the organization to respond to changes in the strategic environment,” the markup report states. “In addition, it should assist Congress in better understanding the relationships and tradeoffs between missions, risks and resources, particularly in light of geopolitical changes and domestic developments in the last few years.”
McKeon wants DoD to submit an updated QDR by Oct. 1 that includes:
■ “An articulation of a defense program for the next 20 years.
■ “An identification of the budget plan that would be required to provide sufficient resources to execute successfully the full range of missions called for in that national defense strategy at a low-to-moderate level of risk, and any additional resources required to achieve such a level of risk.
■ “Recommendations that are not constrained to comply with and are fully independent of the budget submitted to Congress.”
The committee believes that much of the information it wants was produced over the course of DoD’s review and could be provided “in a reasonable amount of time,” the markup states.
A DoD spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment on McKeon’s QDR legislation. In March, David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development, dismissed, McKeon’s major criticisms of the QDR.
McKeon’s language still has a long way to go before becoming law, as the Senate would likely need to include it in its version of the 2015 defense authorization bill in order for it to make it into a final piece of legislation.■