Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants former Defense Secretary Bill Perry as co-chairman of the congressionally mandated QDR oversight panel.
Perry, now a professor at Stanford University and fellow at the Hoover Institution, is one of the most respected defense wise men and boasts a wide network of former colleagues and admirers. A source familiar with the panel said Perry would be the Democratic co-chair, leaving Gates still to find a GOP member after former Sen. John Warner withdrew from consideration. Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain have not named their panel members yet. Our source said both men have shied away from appointing possible members because they were considered to have been tainted by having worked on specific weapons programs, at defense companies or having other close ties to defense companies.
With the panel’s first report due to Congress in March and its second report in July, time is awasting to get its work underway. Aware of this, Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced his selections for the QDR panel today. Skelton named one of the Army's most innovative thinkers, retired general Robert Scales, and former Air Force historian Richard Kohn to the independent panel on the Quadrennial Defense Review. Close followers of defense issues will remember that Scales led the Army's innovative Army After Next project. He will help ensure that the largest service's key issues do not go unwatched.
Rep. Buck McKeon, ranking member of the HASC, announced his picks for the QDR panel last week: Jim Talent, the Missouri Republican who served in the House and Senate until 2006 and Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defense for policy from 2005 until January 2009.
Gates has also created a Quadrennial Defense Review red team at the Pentagon, with Andy Krepinevich, Net Assessment's own Andy Marshall and Gen. the head of Joint Forces Command and this group has reportedly reminded senior defense officials of the centrality of high-end threats in the face of the current institutional focus on relatively small, low-level wars.