Steven Aftergood: Defense Reform When, How?

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Steven Aftergood
Steven Aftergood

DEFENSE REFORM: YES, BUT HOW?

There is widespread dissatisfaction with the organization and performance of the Department of Defense, a new Congressional Research Service report says, but no consensus on what to do about it. Driving the current debate, CRS says, are questions such as:


*     “Why, after the expenditure of nearly $1.6 trillion and over 15 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, has the United States had such difficulty translating tactical and operational victories into sustainable political outcomes?”

*     “Why, despite the expenditure of over $600 billion per year on defense, is the readiness of the force approaching critically low levels, according to military officials, while the number of platforms and capabilities being produced are generally short of perceived requirements?”

*     “Why, despite tactical and operational adaptations around the world, is DOD often seen as having difficulty formulating strategies and policies in sufficient time to adapt to and meet the increasingly dynamic threat environment?”

“Taken together, […] the issues raised by these questions suggest the systemic nature of the challenges with which the Department of Defense appears to be grappling. In other words, they suggest that DOD’s organizational architecture and culture may merit serious review and analysis.”

“This report is intended to assist Congress as it evaluates the variety of reform proposals currently under discussion.” See Goldwater-Nichols at 30: Defense Reform and Issues for Congress, April 20, 2016.