Defense Experts Urge Base Closures, Personnel Cuts and Increased Care for Female Vets

Friday, May 01, 2015

A group of defense experts have urged the Department of Defense and members of Congress to make cut costs in the military while improving care for members of the armed forces.

Defense Reform Consensus, a group of 38 analysts from a list of think tanks representing all parts of the political spectrum, say the government should close more military bases and reduce the number of civilians who work for the Defense Department, among other recommendations.

In their letter to Congress and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, the group said the country can no longer afford to pay for the “operation of unnecessary facilities,” meaning more bases should be closed, particularly within the United States. The four previous rounds of base realignment and closure (BRAC) produced $8 billion in recurring annual savings, the letter said, and it has been a decade since the last BRAC in 2005.

It is important to devote more resources to the military’s fighting force, they argued, which is why they also want to see the Pentagon cut back on the number of civilian workers. They pointed out that from 2001 to 2014, the active duty military shrank by nearly 3% while the number of civilian defense employees went up by 10% to 756,000. The result has been a workforce that is now out of proportion to need.

One suggestion the Pentagon has for saving money is to change the employment status of commissary workers from GS-level civil service employees. The result would be lower salaries and fewer hours for many who work in the base grocery stores, according to Stars and Stripes. However, many who work in commissaries are spouses of military personnel, who would be hurt by the pay cuts.

Another suggestion, this time from within Congress, would increase healthcare services available to female veterans. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member Corrine Brown introduced legislation just this week that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand gender-specific services at its hospitals and community-based outpatient clinics, according to Government Executive.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

The Case for Cutting Defense Civilians, Improving Care for Female Vets and More (Government Executive)

An Open Letter (Defense Reform Consensus)

Wages for 15,000 Commissary Employees Targeted (by Tom Philpott, Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Will Close 15 Military Bases in Europe, but Keep Troop Levels the Same (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Suicide Rate of Women Vets Triple that of Non-Vets (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Bill to Aid Women Veterans (by LiAnn Ishizuka, David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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