In late April, thirty-eight defense analysts from think tanks across the ideological spectrum signed on to an open letter urging officials at the Department of Defense and members of Congress to adopt a number of reforms. The letter, which follows a similar effort from 2013, calls for a reduction in civilian Pentagon employees, changes in military compensation, and the closure of unneeded military bases. Yesterday, at RealClearDefense, myself and William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, explained why we do not believe the proposed reforms go far enough:
Earlier this month a group of defense experts from across the political spectrum – ranging from the American Enterprise Institute to the Center for American Progress — released a letter targeting three major areas of reform at the Pentagon: reduction of the civilian bureaucracy, compensation reform, and a new round of military base closures.
The fact that these common sense reforms require such an all-hands-on-deck effort to try to move them forward underscores the fact that our system for making decisions on how to spend resources allocated for defense is broken. Getting the Pentagon back on track will require additional changes in the status quo.
Neither of us is against the reforms proposed in either defense reform consensus letters. The Pentagon does need to reduce the number of civilian workers it employees. Military compensation is in desperate need of modernization. And Congress needs to allow the Department of Defense to shed excess infrastructure. But bigger changes are needed in both the way the Pentagon plans and in its centralized management structure. Changes are also needed in industry, where more realistic bidding will lead to better planning and fewer cost overruns. Few changes will occur though if Congress does not hold both itself and the Pentagon to account. Removing the Budget Control Act limits on defense spending would also remove any incentive the Department of Defense will have to address internal problems that continually drive up the cost for American taxpayers.
Read the entire thing here.