Bad timing?

By Sebastian Sprenger / December 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM

There's a lot of national security-related introspection going on in the government these days, which some would say is fitting during a presidential transition. For one, Pentagon officials are wrapping up a congressionally mandated review of the Defense Department's roles and missions. At the same time, they are doing prep work for the next administration's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, set to begin in earnest by springtime.

Then, the Department of Homeland Security is doing the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and the nation's spies are conducting the Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review. The DHS drill, we're told, is the first of its kind, while the intelligence review is done for the second time.

As for the roles-and-missions study, some at DOD believe the timing is a bit inopportune.

"If you asked when would be not a good time to start looking at roles and missions, I would say in the fourth year of an administration," a senior Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of not being named, told us last week.

Yet, the forthcoming report is the result of a "good, honest effort . . . in a very challenging period," the official said.

As of yesterday, lawmakers had not yet received a copy of the document, according to House Armed Services Committee spokeswoman Lara Battles, who added committee staff were last briefed about the review over the summer. She noted the final report is due with the submission of the defense budget in early February.

In a May 8 press briefing, a senior DOD official talked about plans to have the report be wrapped up internally by late November, which would give senior leaders a chance to use the month of December for figuring out "how they want to work with transition teams and exactly how the document and when the document might go forth."