House Armed Services Committee to Take up DoD Efficiencies

HASC Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, Photo: mckeon.house.gov

The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) isn’t wasting any time in exerting his oversight responsibilities.

Following a number of housekeeping procedures last week, the committee will begin oversight hearings this week on the Defense Department efficiencies championed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Federal News Radio reports.

Observers expect McKeon to act as a foil to some of DoD’s proposals, including its efforts to scale back the Army and Marine fighting force. Following Gates’ announcement of the latest round of cost-savings, McKeon made his displeasure clear.

“I’m not happy,” he said, Federal News Radio reported. “These cuts are being made without any commitment to restore modest future growth, which is the only way to prevent deep reductions in force structure that will leave our military less capable and less ready to fight.”

The committee has undergone changes of late. Former Chairman Democrat Ike Skelton of Missouri lost his congressional seat amid the large-scale gains made by Republicans in the midterm elections. But, even when he chaired the committee, there was an uncharacteristic sense of bipartisanship, at least in resistance to some of DoD’s efficiencies.

“I think I speak for the overwhelming majority on this committee, regardless of party, when I tell you that I do not support cutting the defense budget at this time,” Skelton said before a round of oversight hearings in September.

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