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Posts Tagged ‘pentagon’

DOD’s increasing reliance on brass is a sign of broader problems

October 6th, 2014

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The Pentagon is more top-heavy than ever before. How much does this bureaucratic bloat cost taxpayers? The Pentagon has no idea, and neither does the Government Accountability Office. Pentagon officials know they need more generals and admirals, they just can’t tell you why. Those are the conclusions from a GAO report released earlier this month.

In 2011, I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and explained the problem, which I dubbed Star Creep—the Pentagon’s propensity to have generals and admirals (also known as Generals and Flag Officers, or GFO) fill positions once performed by lower-ranking officers. This has resulted in an unprecedentedly high ratio of generals and admirals to the troops they command.

Third Way has repeatedly shown how this hinders military effectiveness and wastes money. The GAO study corroborated many of our findings, including:

  • The number of generals and admirals increased by 8 percent from 2001 to 2013, while the enlisted ranks shrank by 2 percent;
  • “The ratios of enlisted to non-GFO officers and enlisted to GFOs are both at their lowest levels since prior to 2001 (5:1 and 1,200:1, respectively).”

Unfortunately, the study could not answer the burning question that we at Third Way and many members of Congress have: How much has this increasing top-heaviness at the Department of Defense cost American taxpayers? Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) have all introduced legislation to combat Star Creep, but we still don’t have a full cost estimate.

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Three Myths About the Defense Budget

March 14th, 2014

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The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2015 budget request has been savaged by Republicans and even some Democrats. Critics argue it’s “a skeleton defense budget,” that will “dramatically reduce the size of the Army to pre-World War II levels,” and all of this “will embolden America’s foes to take aggressive acts.” All of these critiques have one thing in common: they’re not true.

Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry »

Preserving security by curbing Pentagon spending

December 13th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on The Hill.

Two widely respected Pentagon leaders have issued two sets of warnings about grave risks to our national security. The problem: both claims are dire but seem diametrically opposed. However, they can be reconciled if the President and congressional negotiators resolve the apparent tension in ways that both protect our national security and help to restore our economic strength.

The first warning comes from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has said that the cuts to the Pentagon budget that would result from sequestration would be “devastating.” He warned that such cuts could “hollow out the force.”

The second is from Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has repeatedly warned that “the greatest threat to our national security is our debt.” He started making that claim during his tenure in the Pentagon and has repeated it often since his retirement last year. His point is that the U.S. is running unsustainable ratios of debt-to-GDP, and our weakened economy has impacted our ability to influence and move global events. The Department of Defense, which consumes about half of all discretionary federal spending, must face some fairly large budget cuts. Read the rest of this entry »