Can the Pentagon Be Fixed?

Policy Forum
March 13, 2009 12:00PM
Auditorium/Wintergarden
Featuring Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information; Colonel Douglas Macgregor, U.S. Army (Retired), Straus Military Reform Project adviser; Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight; Thomas Ricks, Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security, and Special Military Correspondent for the Washington Post; and Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security, Cato Institute;

Most defense analysts agree: the Pentagon is in serious need of reform. Acquisition programs run above cost and behind schedule. The U.S. defense budget is higher than at any point during the Cold War, but capability has not kept pace. We field fewer ships, aircraft, and tanks than we did in the days of lower procurement spending. And our defense spending prepares us better for the conventional wars we imagine than the unconventional conflicts we fight.

The question is what to do about these problems. Should we give more power over budgets to civilians or combatant commanders? Should we change procurement rules or push the services to buy cheaper but less capable weapons? Should we continue to reform the ground forces to fight small wars or simply avoid them? Should we slash defense spending? Please join us for a discussion about alternatives for defense reform.