Former DEPSECDEF on The Pentagon’s Financial Drawdown

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England penned an Op-Ed in the NY Times advising the new SECDEF on how to find some of the $400B in Defense savings that the President is looking for over the next 12 years.  He urged Mr. Panetta to

Resist the temptation to quickly kill procurement programs and research and development activities. Nor should he make proportional cuts to programs across the board. History shows that this would result in a hollowed-out force that will embolden our enemies. It’s the easiest way to go, but also the worst.

England’s Five Point Plan Included:

  1. Cut the civilian workforce before the military.  Shrink the Pentagon bureaucracy – cut 100,000 of the 700,000.  No additional outsourcing to increase Pentagon efficiency.
  2. Increase defense sales to Allies to reduce unit costs and overhead while creating more jobs in the US.
  3. Put a moratorium on new procurement programs while increasing production on existing ones to complete them faster and cheaper.
  4. Adjust the “tooth to tail” ratio by reducing support personnel in favor of warfighters.
  5. Give Services and COCOMs more decision authority in acquiring weapon systems to avoid lengthy [JCIDS] requirements process and empower them to change features to save cost and schedule.
So what’s your take on this plan?  Some of these are long standing recommendations to reform the Pentagon?  To achieve $400B in savings requires some game-changing strategies.  It will require revamping the Pentagon’s culture to avoid repeating the same budgetary issues we’ve faced for decades.  Even with massive increases in defense spending to fund 2+ wars, programs were continually being cut, stretched out, and overly regulated in an attempt to control costs.  If we were to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs from the bureaucracy, what tools and strategies can we implement to vastly improve the productivity and effectiveness of those remaining?  Cutting 100,000 personnel or revamping JCIDS (which they’re trying) are major long term strategies, so what small steps could be achieved in the next 6-12 months?