New BRAC Round Key to Trimming Budget, Former DOD Official Says
To avoid “hollowing out” the force as it slashes spending over the next decade, the Defense Department will need to identify components of the budget other than force structure, readiness and modernization to capture the needed savings, Michèle Flournoy, who served as defense undersecretary for policy under Obama until last February, wrote in a commentary Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.
Where else to look? One place is infrastructure.
“This inability to shed or realign facilities hangs like an albatross around the department’s neck, consuming billions of dollars that could otherwise go to readiness and modernization. Congress should grant DOD’s request for another Base Realignment and Closure Commission round this year,” wrote Flournoy, who was considered one of the leading candidates to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon until the president nominated Chuck Hagel last month.
Somehow she forgets that there was a BRAC round eight years ago, possibly undercutting her argument that Congress has prevented the Pentagon “from closing bases it no longer needs or consolidating infrastructure to better support evolving missions” since the late 1990s.
The other areas to look for savings, which also will require new authorities from Congress, include:
- overhead — “delayering” the Pentagon by paring the civilian workforce would produce substantial savings and enhance productivity;
- military health care — if DOD is unable to control health care costs, including those for Tricare, its investment in mission capabilities needed by the military will be undermined; and
- acquisition — more needs to be done to reform the procurement system, including increasing the size of the acquisition workforce, shortening procurement timelines and improving dialogue with industry.
“Either the government cuts costs by fundamentally transforming how DOD does business, or the U.S. risks cutting capabilities critical to national defense and global leadership,” Flournoy concluded.