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Reform the Pentagon’s Personnel Budget

If military personnel costs continue growing, they will begin to divert funds from other critical national security initiatives such as training and modernization.

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The Pentagon’s personnel budget is composed of three major items: pay, retirement, and health care. These costs have nearly doubled in the past 10 years and now consume one-third of the baseline defense budget. If they continue growing, these costs will begin to divert funds from other critical national security initiatives such as training and modernization.

The threat that mounting personnel costs pose to military readiness has not gone unnoticed by the nation’s political and military leaders. In the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2013 budget request, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff highlighted the need for significant changes to the Defense Department’s existing pay, health care, and retirement systems.

In light of the pressing need to reform the military’s compensation systems, the Center for American Progress recently released a report titled “Reforming Military Compensation,” which identifies opportunities to reduce personnel costs without breaking faith with the men and women who are serving or have served.

Lawrence J. Korb, Alex Rothman, and Max Hoffman outline 10 important facts about military compensation today that demonstrate why our reform program is key to a more efficient and equitably compensated fighting force.

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