December 10, 2013

THE LONG WAR IS OVER; GUT IT:

More Bureaucrats, Fewer Jets and Ships : More than half of our active-duty servicemen and women serve in offices on staffs. (JOHN LEHMAN, Dec. 9, 2013, WSJ)

Although current U.S. spending on defense adjusted for inflation has been higher than at the height of the Reagan administration, it has been producing less than half of the forces and capabilities of those years. [...]

There is one great numerical advantage the U.S. has against potential adversaries, however. That is the size of our defense bureaucracy. While the fighting forces have steadily shrunk by more than half since the early 1990s, the civilian and uniformed bureaucracy has more than doubled. According to the latest figures, there are currently more than 1,500,000 full-time civilian employees in the Defense Department--800,000 civil servants and 700,000 contract employees. Today, more than half of our active-duty servicemen and women serve in offices on staffs. The number of various Joint Task Force staffs, for instance, has grown since 1987 from seven to more than 250, according to the Defense Business Board.

The constant growth of the bureaucracy has resulted from reform initiatives from Congress and by executive order, each of which established a new office or expanded an existing one. These new layers have accumulated every year since the founding of the Department of Defense in 1947. Unlike private businesses--disciplined by the market--which require constant pruning and overhead reduction to stay profitable, each expansion of the bureaucracy is, to paraphrase President Reagan, the nearest thing to eternal life to be found on earth.

The Pentagon, like Marley's ghost, must drag this ever-growing burden of chains without relief. As a result something close to paralysis is approaching. The suffocating bloat of overstaffing in an overly centralized web of bureaucracies drives runaway cost growth in weapons systems great and small. Whereas the immensely complex Polaris missile and submarine system took four years from a draft requirement until its first operational patrol in February 1960, today the average time for all weapons procured under Defense Department acquisition regulations is 22 years.
Posted by at December 10, 2013 5:35 PM
  
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