Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Congress Just Took an Important Step Toward Real Military Compensation Reform

by Jesse Sloman Thursday, December 4, 2014
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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In Compensation Reform, Pentagon Failing To Win Hearts and Minds of Its Own Troops

by Jesse Sloman Thursday, September 25, 2014
Members of the Army march up 5th Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York November 11, 2012. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters)

The Pentagon is losing the battle to convince military families that it has their best interests at heart when it comes to compensation reform. A survey released last week by the advocacy group Blue Star Families and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) revealed that clear majorities of military spouses, veterans, and service members are seriously concerned about pay, benefits, and changes to retirement. If Defense Department (DoD) leaders hope to achieve their goal of updating the current compensation system, they will have to assuage the doubts of at least some members of these critical constituencies. Right now, it looks like senior officials may be in for a hard-fought campaign.

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

by Amy Schafer and Jesse Sloman Thursday, August 28, 2014
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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It’s Time for Congress to Get Serious About Military Compensation

by Jesse Sloman Tuesday, May 13, 2014
congress capitol hill A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, October 6, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

This commentary comes courtesy of Marine Corps veteran and CFR research associate Jesse Sloman.  He addresses one of the most conspicuous “third rail” issues between Congress and the Pentagon: the question of compensation and benefits.  He calls on Congress to get the spiraling spending under control. The alternative will be a “hollow force”—well compensated but undertrained and unequipped to tackle future contingencies.

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Introducing Defense in Depth

by Janine Davidson Thursday, March 6, 2014
A view of the Pentagon and Washington, DC. A view of the Pentagon and Washington, DC (Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense).

Defense in Depth is a new blog about the art, politics, and business of American military power. I will track the big issues facing policymakers as they grapple with downshifting in Afghanistan, rebalancing to Asia, and maintaining a ready and capable force structure amidst sustained fiscal pressures.

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