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By John Liang / January 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) today named Charles Curtis and John Nagl to an independent panel that will assess the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review.

"Charles Curtis and John Nagl offer a wide range and depth of defense policy and practical experience both in and out of government," Levin said in a statement. "Their demonstrated ability for independent thinking will contribute significantly to the panel’s assessments and recommendations relating to the 2009 QDR."

The Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Act requires the defense secretary to establish an independent panel to assess the QDR's "recommendations, stated and implied assumptions, and the vulnerabilities of the underlying strategy and force structure," the committee statement reads. "((Defense)) Secretary ((Robert)) Gates announced he would appoint a 12-member, bipartisan panel to meet this requirement, and the FY2010 NDAA included a provision that adds eight congressionally appointed members to the QDR independent panel for 2009, two each to be appointed by the HASC and SASC chairs and ranking members."

According to the bios included in the Levin statement:

Honorable Charles Curtis

Mr. Curtis is currently a non-resident Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the president emeritus of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group founded by former Sen. Sam Nunn and philanthropist Ted Turner that works to address threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Before joining NTI, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the United Nations Foundation. From 1994 to 1997, he served as undersecretary and deputy secretary of the Department of Energy.

Dr. John Nagl

Mr. Nagl is the president of the Center for a New American Security. He is a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose service includes combat service in the Iraq war and Operation Desert Storm and a former West Point professor. He contributed to Army’s field manual on counterinsurgency, and is the author of "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam."

Inside the Pentagon reported last November that former Sen. John Warner (R-VA), who along with former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) had been eyed to lead the panel, had withdrawn his name from consideration. It also appeared doubtful that Graham would co-chair the group if the Florida Democrat participates.

Warner told ITP at the time that he had informed DOD of his decision -- based on potential conflicts of interest -- on Oct. 23, the day after ITP first reported Pentagon and congressional sources considered him a frontrunner to co-chair the panel.

Meanwhile, a source close to Graham told ITP in November that if Graham serves on the panel he is unlikely to co-chair it because he is already busy with other commitments.

Graham chairs the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and serves on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, both created by Congress.