Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Showing posts for "Department of Defense"

A Heavy Lift: Reforming the U.S. Military’s “Calcified” Personnel System

by Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer
Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, work as a six member team to lift a heavy log over their heads 20 times while competing in the Ivy Heptathlon during Iron Horse Week, Jan. 28, 2015. Teams executed seven events in accordance with Army Regulation 7-22 in the fastest time possible. (U.S. Army/Flickr) Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, work as a six member team to lift a heavy log over their heads 20 times while competing in the Ivy Heptathlon during Iron Horse Week, Jan. 28, 2015. Teams executed seven events in accordance with Army Regulation 7-22 in the fastest time possible. (U.S. Army/Flickr)

By Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer

Last month, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson sent a memo to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter outlining a series of ambitious and long overdue proposals to update the United States military’s manpower management system.  Carson’s memo comes on the heels of the rollout of the Defense Secretary’s new “force of the future” initiative, a campaign that aims to implement reforms across the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to ensure the military is able to recruit and retain “the best of the best in every generation.”

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Ash Carter’s “Force of the Future” Personnel Reforms Can’t Come Soon Enough

by Jesse Sloman
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter gave a speech at his former high school that laid out his vision for reforming the military’s manpower policies. For those like myself who have argued that the current system is inflexible, antiquated, and poorly adapted for the needs of millennial service members, it was refreshing to see a sitting defense secretary stake out such a forward-thinking position on personnel issues. Carter laid out an array of different policy proposals, three of which I found particularly intriguing: Read more »

Prioritize Operations, Ban PowerPoint: Ash Carter Is off to a Good Start

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (C) holds a regional security meeting at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (C) holds a regional security meeting at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

On February 17, Ash Carter was formally sworn in as the twenty-fifth Secretary of Defense. Within his first week on the job, he’s wrapped up intensive, fact-finding trips to both Afghanistan and Kuwait. This sends a powerful message about his priorities: although Carter previously distinguished himself as a thoughtful student of Pentagon bureaucracy, budgeting, and acquisitions, in his new role, current opsand getting the strategy rightcome first.

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Ash Carter’s Nomination Hearing: What to Watch For

by Janine Davidson
Ash Carter, President Obama's nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, arrives to meet with Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) (not pictured) at Reed's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) Ash Carter, President Obama's nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, arrives to meet with Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) (not pictured) at Reed's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

Ash Carter faces the Senate Armed Services Committee today for his confirmation hearing. You can watch it live on CSPAN at 9:30 a.m. EST.

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Charts, Charts, Charts: Everything You Need to Understand the Military Compensation Debate

by Janine Davidson and Jesse Sloman
Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time.  The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations) Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time. The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations)

This week marks the much-awaited release of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s (MCRMC) final report. This independent panel was established in 2013 “to conduct a review of the military compensation and retirement systems and to make recommendations to modernize such systems.” Proponents and opponents of future changes are preparing themselves for a bitter legislative and bureaucratic fight as soon as the report hits the street.

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In Much-Needed Manpower Reform, U.S. Navy Set To Be the Next Proving Ground

by Jesse Sloman
A U.S. Navy sailor holds the U.S. flag during a takeover ceremony, where the U.S. took control of the Naval Aggrupation Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) from Spain, at Malaga port in Malaga, southern Spain, July 8, 2014. (Jon Nazca/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Navy sailor holds the U.S. flag during a takeover ceremony, where the U.S. took control of the Naval Aggrupation Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) from Spain, at Malaga port in Malaga, southern Spain, July 8, 2014. (Jon Nazca/Courtesy Reuters)

The Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral William Moran, visited the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) last month to discuss his vision for reforming the current manpower system. Since assuming his position in 2013, VADM Moran has been pushing hard to implement programs that will better align the Navy’s manpower policies with the expectations and aspirations of its younger sailors—especially millennials, those individuals born between 1980 and the mid-2000s.

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Can Ash Carter Finally Tame the Defense Acquisitions Behemoth?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Then-Pentagon acquisitions chief Ashton Carter takes a reporter's question after it was announced that Boeing won a contract to build new refueling planes for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon in Washington, February 24, 2011. President Obama formally nominated Carter on December 5, 2014 to serve as the twenty-fifth secretary of defense. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters) Then-Pentagon acquisitions chief Ashton Carter takes a reporter's question after it was announced that Boeing won a contract to build new refueling planes for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon in Washington, February 24, 2011. President Obama formally nominated Carter on December 5, 2014 to serve as the twenty-fifth secretary of defense. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

By Alex Haber and Jeff Jeffress

For decades, pundits and policymakers have bemoaned the Pentagon’s cumbersome, sluggish procurement processes and rampant overspending, especially compared to industry counterparts. Though these arcane protocols will be challenging to improve, the stars appear to be aligning for actual reform.

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Congress Just Took an Important Step Toward Real Military Compensation Reform

by Jesse Sloman
U.S. troops march during a military parade celebrating Romania's National Day in Bucharest December 1, 2014. (Radu Sigheti/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. troops march during a military parade celebrating Romania's National Day in Bucharest December 1, 2014. (Radu Sigheti/Courtesy Reuters)

On Tuesday, the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, setting the Pentagon’s expenditures and budget, is one of  the least controversial items on Congress’ annual agenda; an NDAA has been passed every year for the past 52 years.

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The Next Secretary of Defense Should Be Comfortable with Military and Civilians Alike

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel walks out to welcome New Zealand's Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee at the Pentagon in Washington, November 24, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel walks out to welcome New Zealand's Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee at the Pentagon in Washington, November 24, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

In the wake of the November 24 announcement of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s pending resignation, the New York Times asked me to share my thoughts on what qualities the next secretary should embody. I was fortunate to join John Nagl, Lawrence Korb, and Kiron Skinner in this discussion. To view the full feature, please follow this link. See my own take below: Read more »

Do One Quarter of Military Families Rely on Food Banks? A Closer Look at the Numbers

by Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer
Workers fill carts with food for the poor at the Foothill Unity Center food bank in Monrovia, California, November 14, 2012. (David McNew/Courtesy Reuters) Workers fill carts with food for the poor at the Foothill Unity Center food bank in Monrovia, California, November 14, 2012. (David McNew/Courtesy Reuters)

By Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer

Last week, the food bank network Feeding America generated a flurry of news coverage with the release of a report claiming that one quarter of military families need food assistance. The survey seemed to contradict the argument, advanced by senior defense officials, that military compensation is too high and needs to be reduced. However, a closer look at the report’s methodology reveals more questions than answers. Food scarcity is undoubtedly a problem for some servicemembers, but without additional information, it is impossible to draw meaningful conclusions about its true prevalence across the force.

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