Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave his first major speech since he was confirmed for the job in February.
“The Department must understand the challenges and uncertainties, plan for the risks, and, yes, recognize the opportunities inherent in budget constraints and more efficient and effective restructuring,” he said.
Secretary Hagel listed three main drivers of the defense spending: (1) acquisitions, (2) personnel costs, and (3) overhead. “Left unchecked,” he said, “spiraling costs to sustain existing structures and institutions, provide benefits to personnel, and develop replacements for aging weapons platforms will eventually crowd out spending on procurement, operations and readiness—the budget categories that enable the military to be and stay prepared.”
So what should be done about this internal imbalance? The Heritage Foundation’s proposed reforms can serve as a blueprint for creating a better, more resource-efficient Department of Defense and reinvest resources to badly needed weapons modernization and research and development.
Heritage’s reform proposals for acquisitions:
- Baker Spring, “Congressional Restraint Is Key to Successful Defense Acquisition Reform,” Backgrounder No. 1885, October 19, 2005
- Baker Spring, “Congress Needs to Focus on the Big Picture in Defense Acquisition Reform,” WebMemo No. 984, February 2, 2006
- Jeff Kueter and John B. Sheldon, “An Investment Strategy for National Security Space,” Special Report No. 129, February 20, 2013
- James Carafano and Eric Sayers, “Defense Spending Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: Hype, Reality, and Real Solutions,” Backgrounder No. 2212, November 20, 2008
Heritage’s reform proposals for personnel costs:
- Mackenzie Eaglen, “Paying for America’s All-Volunteer Military: Reform Is Not a Dirty Word,” Backgrounder No. 2144, June 17, 2008
- Baker Spring, “Building a Better Military Health Care System,” WebMemo No. 3375, September 29, 2011
- Baker Spring, “Heritage Fiscal Plan Saves American Dream for America’s Veterans,” WebMemo No. 3377, September 29, 2011
- Baker Spring, “Saving the American Dream: Improving Health Care and Retirement for Military Service Members and Their Families,” Backgrounder No. 2621, November 17, 2011
Heritage’s reform proposals for overhead and better management practices:
- Mackenzie Eaglen and Eric Sayers, “Maintaining the Superiority of America’s Defense Industrial Base,” Backgrounder No. 2276, May 22, 2009
- Baker Spring, “Enforce Financial Management Requirements at the Department of Defense,” WebMemo No. 3423, November 29, 2011
- Mackenzie Eaglen and Julia Pollak, “How to Save Money, Reform Processes, and Increase Efficiency in the Defense Department,” Backgrounder No. 2507, January 10, 2011
These reforms would help to free up resources for badly needed weapons modernization and put the Department of Defense on a sustainable fiscal path. The sooner Congress and the Pentagon work together to implement these reforms, the better for U.S. security, forward-deployed troops, and allies around the world.