At a recent event sponsored by CSIS, our own Gordon Adams provided some insight on what an alternative affordable DoD force structure would look like. One important factor in his scenario, which doesn’t get the attention it should, is excess overhead spending. Adams argues that substantial cuts need to be made to military personnel.
In a tooth-to-tail ratio, i.e., combat forces-to-overhead, the United States military ratio is more skewed toward tail (overhead) than the militaries for nearly all other industrialized countries. This and the necessity to improve these inefficiencies is a point Adams has been emphasizing for a while. As found in the September 5th issue of Bloomberg Business week,
Real savings would come from reductions in personnel. More than a third of the active-duty force of 1.4 million troops never deploys. Overhead, including support staff and other noncombat positions, according to Adams, accounts for about 42 percent of the defense budget
Nearly all participants of last Thursday’s event were in agreement on the issue of overhead and the need to make cuts. Of a panel of five, with pretty divided opinions on future budget implications on defense and how to adapt, this was an issue that generated the most consensus among participants. Seems like a sign there are savings to be had.