The U.S. Department of Defense has been described as “bloated” by the man nominated to be its next secretary, former Senator Chuck Hagel. Many share this view. However, achieving reforms is more difficult than diagnosing the problem, and estimating how much can realistically be saved is particularly challenging. Yet, rough approximations are needed as Congress and President Barack Obama seek to determine how much more, if at all, the defense budget might be reduced over the next ten years as part of a possible deal to avert the fiscal cliff before its new March 1 deadline.
On January 24, the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion on the future of the U.S. defense budget, with a particular focus on reforms and efficiencies. Brookings Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin delivered a keynote address on the nation’s broader economic challenge and deficit reduction effort. Following her remarks, a panel discussion addressed topics such as reforms of military compensation processes; weapons acquisition practices; weapons maintenance practices; base infrastructure; information technology systems; and Department of Defense management.