We have, by far, the most capable, lethal, and flexible military in the world. And we have a legitimate need to maintain a military superior to all others, into the foreseeable future. As long a authoritarian governments with the means to do violence exist, one nation or one very small coalition is going to have to stand against them. It is the 21st Century, and we need a military that will be highly effective in this new age, at a cost we can afford. We need a 21st Century military with flexibility and reach and vision and lethality and we can only afford to pay about half what we pay now. So what follows is what we need to do to restructure the Department of Defense.
First, military manpower is tremendously expensive. And contractors can be both unreliable and expensive. My proposal is to create a corps of non-combatant ‘excepted service’ civilians to perform all non-combatant roles. At present, a cadre of 5000 civil service mariners (WM, ‘wage, marine’, not GS/SES) man, maintain, and operate the Navy’s fleet of 40+ auxiliary ships. These ships operate right alongside Navy ships, they integrate with Battle Groups, they are functionally identical to the formerly Navy-manned auxiliary fleet. But they do this for a fraction of the cost. This concept should be further explored, developed, and then implemented in a way to replace a half million uniformed military with 150,000 or fewer ‘WD’ (‘wage, defense’) workers.
My second proposal is to consolidate all common functions into single, DoD level departments, to eliminate redundancy and make better use of resources. For example: legal and JAG, law enforcement, procurement, logistics, training commands, IT and network operations, civil engineering, medical and hospitals (to include VA), exchanges and commissaries, housing, dependent support activities, financial and payroll, the list goes on. Right now, these functions are fragmented and duplicated across the services. Consolidate and centralize them, detail resources as needed.
Close most overseas bases, redeploy most overseas troops. Establish a robust and active multilateral system of base access and deployment exercises. Reconfigure the airline industry to serve as an auxiliary military deployment asset. Rethink strategic sealift, consider land basing instead of sea basing. Bolster the capabilities of the LHD-centered Marine Expeditionary Unity.
Rationalize strategic weapons and systems.
Design all weapons and systems for the 21st Century environment and threat. Base future acquisitions on a formula that states cost as a bound constant and adjusts capability against threat to achieve the objective without increasing dollars.
Retain six aircraft carriers and associated airwings, lay up all remaining AOE support ships and substitute less costly supply ships and shore based support. Scale Army and Air Force heavy forces similarly. Emphasize force multipliers over brute dollar solutions.
I believe that combining these proposals, along with other worthy ideas, can lead us to retain a military capable of deterring, or if necessary defeating, any foreseeable coalition of adversaries. At a cost of not more than half of what we spend today.