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"

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 Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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)

By Janine Davidson and Jesse Sloman

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 Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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)

By Jesse Sloman

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 Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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)

By Jesse Sloman

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 Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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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Want To Fix Retention? Start by Making the Military a Real Meritocracy

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, run in formation along Red Beach Training Area, Dec. 6, 2013. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco, USMC/Courtesy Marines Flickr) Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, run in formation along Red Beach Training Area, Dec. 6, 2013. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco, USMC/Courtesy Marines Flickr)

By Amy Schafer

This commentary comes courtesy of Amy Schafer, research intern for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She notes that an inflexible promotions structure and rigid “all or nothing” pension system push too many talented servicemembers to leave the military early in pursuit of other opportunities. A better system, Schafer argues, would emulate some of the best practices of Silicon Valley by rewarding high achievers and allowing more freedom in choice of assignment.

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The Problems With Military Health Care Don’t Stop at the VA

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
military-healthcare-problems Lt. Col. Mark Carder, Grafenwoehr Health Clinic Commander, explains to Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command, how a portion of his clinic is used in the post- and pre-deployment health assessment. (Douglas Demaio/Flickr)

By Jesse Sloman

This commentary comes courtesy of Marine Corps veteran and CFR research associate Jesse Sloman.  He observes that issues with military health care do not end with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Recent reporting has found similarly systemic issues in the Defense Health Agency, the health care system for active duty personnel directly administered by the Department of Defense. A truly inclusive solution to military health care must address problems in both of these systems.

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