Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) has little patience with being told by defense officials that various procurement issues will be worked out in the Quadrennial Defense Review. Asked for his assessment of the QDR’s value and its reliability in mapping defense spending, Abercrombie said Thursday, “I don’t think it’s valuable and I don’t think it’s reliable.” He called the QDR a “PR stunt” that is simply “all rhetorical flourishes.” In his view, too, the constant refrain from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his top officials that it will yield new direction is “a stall.” Abercrombie, who chairs the air and land forces panel of the House Armed Services Committee, told defense reporters in Washington that he’s sympathetic to the fact that not everything has been figured out yet by the new Administration, but he asked rhetorically, “Why don’t they just say it?” He said Gates would “serve the Administration better by not putting off this stuff … trying to fool people into thinking that somehow this PR exercise is going to present some kind of definitive pathway to strategic proposals by the defense department.” He said the QDR actually hurts defense policy debates because it creates “expectations” that either don’t materialize or are ignored.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.