Robert Gates Must Address DOD Problems

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday continued his customary pattern of identifying problems but avoiding solutions — even those he or his staff have already identified.

Gates correctly noted, in his speech at Duke University, that the all-volunteer force has become so expensive that personnel costs are squeezing out other necessary programs. The cost of military personnel has almost doubled since 2001, he said, climbing to $179 billion from $90 billion. Military health care costs have risen to $50 billion from $30 over the same time.

Yet Gates ignored solutions for these problems that are hidden in plain sight. Gates’ own 2008 Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation said he should decide on the annual pay raises for troops by using Military Annual Compensation, or MAC, rather than the less inclusive Regular Military Compensation, or RMC, which is now applied. Since annual compensation includes regular compensation plus costs of the military’s generous health care, retirement and tax advantages, it is a far more accurate measure of military pay’s real value.

Had Gates implemented the review’s recommendations in 2008, the Pentagon would have already saved $11 billion; and could save another $55 billion in the next decade.

This article was originally published in Politico.