April 29, 2015

Five CNAS Experts Sign Open Letter Warning Defense Leaders of "Growing Imbalances Within the Defense Budget" Threatening U.S. National Security


Washington, April 29 – Five experts from the Center for a New American Security have signed an open letter calling for Pentagon and Congressional leaders to address “growing imbalances within the defense budget that threaten the health and viability of America’s military power.” The letter, a part of the Defense Reform Consensus project, included 38 signatories from 15 think tanks and universities, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It is available here:


Specifically, the letter calls on leaders to reduce the military’s inventory of physical infrastructure; restructure the federal defense civilian workforce; and modernize the military compensation system.

The CNAS experts who signed the letter include:

A key passage of the letter is below:

In 2013, a bipartisan group of defense experts came together to warn Pentagon and Congressional leaders of the growing imbalances within the defense budget that threaten the health and viability of America’s military power. Nearly two years later, the same strong bipartisan consensus exists. Today, the urgency for change is even greater.

The Administration, with support from key members of Congress, has made some incremental and modest changes that begin to bend the cost curves in personnel, compensation, and infrastructure. In some cases, however, easy choices were made to avoid harder ones and difficult tradeoffs have been deferred. With rising threats around the globe and a military force diminishing in size, readiness, technological supremacy and some key capabilities, now is the time to make the major changes necessary to renew America’s military strength. Too much of the defense budget is currently consumed by institutional inefficiencies, some of which are mandated by law. This is leaving a smaller share of the budget to pay for the manning, training, and equipping of our armed forces that make the US military without peer. Now is the time to begin the hard but necessary work to close excess bases, right-size the civilian workforce, and give future service members more value in a modern pay and benefits package. Given the election season, these questions will surely be deferred until 2017 or later if another year is lost. Meanwhile, our combat power will continue to suffer, morale will fall further, and America’s competitors will continue to become more capable of contesting U.S. interests around the world.

CNAS experts are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at nurwitz@cnas.org or 202-457-9409.