Overhead costs are “sinking the military”

In the light of my (and your) comments yesterday concerning the US Marine Corps’ alleged treatment of a whistleblower within its ranks, it’s perhaps appropriate that I’ve just come across a very interesting report on waste and inefficiency in the US defense establishment.  National Defense reports:

With no signs that Congress will turn off the sequester, the Pentagon can choose to continue to let budget cuts sap the strength of the U.S. military, or it could, instead, take a page from GE’s Jack Welch and slash unneeded bloat, a new study suggests.

The sequester amounts to $50 billion a year, or about 10 percent of the Pentagon’s budget. Since the reductions took effect in March, Army training has been pared down, aircraft have been idled and fewer ships have been deployed. Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to spend about half its budget on administrative overhead that contributes little to nothing to military war-fighting missions, says a group of defense advisers. Their recommendations were published Sept. 24 by the Stimson Center, a non-partisan think tank.

Stimson’s report offers 27 cost-cutting recommendations that add up to $50 billion in savings per year, or the equivalent to the sequester cuts. Most of the savings would come from “management reforms,” overhead cuts and compensation policy changes.

“The reductions can be accommodated in a rational, strategy-based manner that minimizes their impact on the highest priority programs,” says the study, titled, “Strategic Agility: Strong National Defense for Today‚Äôs Global and Fiscal Realities.[Link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format.]

. . .

Stimson’s “Strategic Agility” is one of dozens of think-tank and commission reports that in recent years have offered advice on how to cut defense fat while preserving muscle and bone. None of these proposals have resulted in any serious action…

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading, as is the Stimson report itself.

I don’t agree with everything in the Stimson report – it’s obviously written from a partisan perspective, with which some will agree and some won’t – but many of its suggestions appear entirely feasible and practical.  In particular, given the behavior exhibited by senior leadership in the USMC, I daresay we can all think of a large number of General Officers who appear to be surplus to (fighting) requirements right now!  I wonder how much taxpayer money we’d save by not having to pay their salary and benefit packages any longer?

Peter

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