As the Department of Defense (DOD) prepares to report the results of its Strategic Choices and Management Review, Senior Fellows David Barno and Nora Bensahel and three colleagues at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) identify seven areas of defense spending excess that, if reformed, could save between $340 billion and $490 billion over 10 years.
In The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending, LTG Barno, Dr. Bensahel, Research Associate Jacob Stokes, Research Assistant Joel Smith and Researcher Katherine Kidder argue that, if left unaddressed, each of the “sins” threatens the Pentagon’s ability to perform its core mission and should be addressed regardless of constrained budgets.
The authors identify, analyze and offer recommendations to address what they view as the Seven Deadly Sins of defense excess:
1. Redundant overhead, layering and workforce;
2. Inefficient business practices;
3. Excessive acquisition costs and overruns;
4. Excess infrastructure, installations and management costs;
5. Unaffordable increases in cash compensation;
6. Unsustainable growth of military retirement system costs; and
7. Escalating military health care costs.
The authors recognize that their recommendations will be difficult to implement and will require, among other things, “united White House and Pentagon leadership and … support from Congress.” If changes to its inefficient and wasteful business model are not pursued with urgency, they warn, DOD will have no choice but to “find savings through deep cuts to force structure, modernization and readiness – the very core capabilities required for the U.S. military to maintain global pre-eminence.” Yet, they note, with “bold and resolute action” and “the right choices for reform,” the United States can “meet its global strategy requirements for many decades to come,” even with fewer resources.