The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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Blueprint for Defense Transformation

How to rein in wasteful defense spending.

Published on September 1, 2009

This past March Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the spigot of increasingly large defense budgets had been turned off—as he proposed a FY2010 baseline budget of “only” $534 billion. The momentousness of that announcement, however, did not seem to match the number. While it’s true that the Joint Chiefs prepared a budget for the incoming Obama Administration calling for $584 billion in FY2010—$50 billion more than the Gates proposal and some $60 billion more than the Bush Administration had projected for that year—last year’s budget had been $518 billion, $16 billion less than the proposed FY2010 baseline.

The defense budget is a complicated document. Depending on which baselines, inflation adjustment estimates and supplemental items one includes, clever advocates can make the numbers say almost anything they wish them to say. But no amount of cleverness can obscure three basic facts. The first is that what the U.S. government spends on defense and how it spends it is aligned in no logical or coherent way with U.S. national strategy. (How else could the Pentagon slip items like the F-22 Raptor and V-22 Osprey into last year’s war supplementals when neither system has anything to do with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?) The second fact is that the defense budget is out of control, having roughly doubled over the past ten years—partly because the strategy process establishes no real definition of necessity. The third fact is that the inefficiency of defense spending is an ongoing scandal.

These three facts are connected. If a coherent process linked military assets to national strategy, we would not be buying expensive weapons we do not need. That would help set rational limits on the budget, which would force new efficiencies—not just in acquisition but also with regard to personnel and operations and maintenance (O&M;). Unfortunately, we have not yet faced up to these three facts. Thus, while there was much discussion on the size and distribution of the FY2010 budget, in particular on Gates’s proposed cuts in some fifty major programs like the F-22 Raptor and the DDG-1000 destroyer, there was little focus on the process by which the Defense Department procures, buys, operates or maintains its weapons systems and personnel, which, as shown in the chart on the next page, currently accounts for more than twice as much as spending on weapons or modernization. In the long run, right-sizing the defense budget depends as much on getting the process right as it does on which weapons we buy.

The Acquisition Mess

In the past decade, defense investment funds—which consist of procurement and research and development—grew from $82 billion to $186.1 billion (the Defense Department’s FY2010 request), a jump of 75 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Yet the Pentagon is buying less equipment today than it was a decade ago. Moreover, in the spring of 2008, the military chiefs told Congress that in President George W. Bush’s last budget (FY 2009), there was $30 billion in unfunded investment projects.

How is it that we’re spending more, buying less, and still not “fully funding” our investment projects? One answer is that, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found, since 2003 the actual cost of the Defense Department’s 96 major acquisition programs exceeded their projected costs by $296 billion. These weapons programs were also delayed by almost two years.1 The Defense Business Board, with access to more data than the GAO, estimated the growth in cost of these same systems as $400 billion from 2000–07.2 The GAO estimated, for example, that the Army’s Future Combat Systems program grew 45 percent larger than its initial estimates, and the unit costs of the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor grew by almost 200 percent. The most egregious example was the presidential helicopter program, whose costs grew so much that the cost of each helicopter exceeded the cost of Air Force One.

The reasons costs grow like this are obvious. Some 130 commissions and studies have detailed the dysfunctions in the procurement process over the years. It starts with the requirements definition process: Military specialists define systems that need to do everything and do it perfectly. This leads often enough to the presumption that immature technologies are in fact available. Then the vagaries associated with immature technologies and the constraints on the size of the budget lead to defense industry companies, with the cooperation of the services, low-balling their bids on such “wish-list” items in order to win the contract and fit the program into the budget. For example, John Hamre, the Pentagon Comptroller from 1993–97, says the Department approved a budget for the F-22 that was too low because projecting the real costs would have been politically unpalatable on Capitol Hill.3 Winning bids are almost invariably subject to legal challenge from disappointed bidders, delaying program starts. Once started, programs often must be slowed again to allow time for the technology to mature, which extends production lines and payroll obligations and increases unit costs. Often political scrutiny results in a reduction of the original buy numbers, raising unit costs even further.

Meanwhile, because of the mistaken perception that career civil servants are mostly lazy bureaucrats, the number of civilians employed by the Defense Department is routinely slashed by both Congress and the White House. This means that Defense Department professional contracting managers are several thousand short in numbers of experienced personnel, leading to an increased dependence on the contractors themselves to manage their own projects: an almost classic case of perverse managerial incentives. The result of all this is a huge, and very expensive, slow-moving mess.

Earlier this year, Congress became so concerned by the problem that it passed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act. This bill, sponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2009, is a step in the right direction. It hopes to cure some of the most egregious acquisition problems by building on the Nunn-McCurdy legislation passed two decades ago. That legislation, spearheaded by Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Congressman Dave McCurdy (D-OK), required the Defense Department to notify Congress if major defense acquisition programs breached a 30 percent budget overrun barrier. It also required the Defense Department to certify that programs 50 percent over their original baseline budget were essential to national security and met several other criteria. The problem with Nunn-McCurdy has been that these violations became so routine that the bill had no impact. To apply it literally would have meant essentially stopping all major defense procurement, for the real problem doesn’t lie in individual programs; it lies in the structure of the procurement process itself.

It’s not clear whether the Levin-McCain bill will fare any better. While it requires that programs found to violate the 50 percent cost ceiling be automatically canceled, it does allow the Defense Department to seek a waiver for national security reasons. The bill also establishes a Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office within the Defense Department, headed by an appointee confirmed by the Senate who would report directly to the Secretary of Defense and Congress. That’s a good idea; it can strengthen Congress’ ability to control acquisition projects. It is hardly a cure-all, however. The bill does nothing, for example, to address Congress’ own role in extending over-budget, strategically outdated programs. For example, nearly 200 members of Congress recently signed a letter to President Obama asking him to continue funding the F-22 Raptor, and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees added funds for the plane to the FY2010 budget, even though Secretary of Defense Gates and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said they did not need any more than 187 of the planes.

The F-22 was designed to combat a generation of Soviet fighters that were never built, and has not seen service in either Iraq or Afghanistan. However, proponents of the F-22 have argued that the U.S. military needs an additional sixty of the planes to maintain air superiority and, more important, to continue providing 24,000 American jobs in this time of economic turmoil (this despite clear evidence that defense projects are less effective at creating jobs than money directed to education, health care, mass transit or infrastructure projects).4 The argument was settled on July 21, when the Senate voted to stop production.

Levin-McCain provides a starting point for acquisition reform, but much more is needed. Secretary Gates is right to have committed the Defense Department to increase the acquisition workforce by hiring 9,000 new professional managers and converting 11,000 current contractor positions into government employees by 2015. But these new employees must be given the right tools to ensure that we are providing our service members with advanced, cost-effective technology that is optimized to meet current threats, and they must be supported by their political and military superiors. There is a menu of policy options available for doing so.

We should begin this process by ensuring that all major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs) are justified by current strategic and tactical needs.5 In other words, we must acknowledge and address the first problem: that the procurement process is not logically aligned with national strategy. The best way to fix this is to require these programs to prove their continuing relevance to the goals set forth in the President’s yearly National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The congressionally mandated NSS, which by law must be done annually, is intended to outline the President’s view of the security threats facing the United States. Not all Administrations have taken the NSS mandate seriously. Some, like the George W. Bush Administration, simply ignored the law, producing only two versions in eight years. For others it has been an incidental public relations activity resulting in documents bearing no sign of strategic logic or prioritization of goals. But taking the NSS exercise seriously is the key to a sound top-down planning process and the best way for President Obama to put his stamp on policy. The NSS exercise should provide the foundation for the Defense Department’s work, including the QDR, which outlines the Department’s vision for the future missions and capabilities of the armed forces.

Requiring the Defense Department to report regularly to Congress on how well MDAPs conform to these documents’ priorities would have several benefits. It would help Congress to hold the Defense Department liable for continuing to request the acquisition of weapons for threats that no longer exist. It would more readily expose weapon systems that are ineffective in the current threat environment, such as the Marine Corps’ flat-bottomed expeditionary fighting vehicle, which is exceptionally vulnerable to IEDs. It would also provide a record through which the public could hold members of Congress responsible for funding unnecessary programs for political reasons. While Congress must have a role in determining which programs deserve to be funded, it should not be exacerbating the problem.

We also need stricter controls on the acquisition system itself. As noted, the Levin-McCain bill offers a way to circumvent cost barriers or cancellation: the national security “exception.” While some flexibility is necessary for vital programs, more concrete consequences should befall those who try to game the procurement system. One way to do this is to require all programs that violate the Levin-McCain standard, and for which a waiver is given, to convert to fixed-price contracts.

The Defense Department employs two major types of contracts: fixed-price and cost-plus (also known as cost-reimbursement) contracts. Cost-plus contracts allow the Department to reimburse contractors for project expenses up to a certain limit, with the possibility for additional awards based on the specific contract sub-type. In contrast, fixed-price contracts establish a total fee for services up front, allowing less flexibility and room for error. The vast majority of contracts issued by the Department are of the fixed-price variety. For programs that entail a substantial degree of risk, cost-plus contracts are a reasonable choice, particularly in the research and development phase.

There are two clear advantages to requiring programs that are significantly over projected costs to switch to fixed-price contracts. First, the threat to limit the amount of money available will provide a strong incentive to make accurate estimates of program costs up front. Marvin Sambur, who was in charge of acquisition for the Air Force until 2004 and is currently a member of the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, has pointed out the essential early flaw in the acquisition process: the aforementioned mix of excessive requirements definitions and contractors’ low-balling estimates. While the services calculate their own estimates for program costs before soliciting bids, they are required to replace these numbers with the winning contractor’s estimate when formulating the final contract. According to Sambur, the result is that “the winning number is often too low . . . when, in fact, the original DoD estimates are generally within 3 percent of the final cost.”6 If companies knew that cost overruns are likely to force lucrative cost-plus contracts to become fixed-price, they would have a much stronger incentive to stop artificially low-balling their bids.

The second advantage to this approach is that it will force the services and Congress to settle on more reasonable requirements and expectations for defense acquisition programs. While we should expect the armed services to purchase the best weapons and technology available, efforts to acquire overwhelming technological superiority can sometimes go awry. GAO Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management Michael Sullivan noted in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this year that GAO’s annual studies of MDAPs “have consistently found that the vast majority of programs began system development without mature technologies and moved into system demonstration without design stability.”7

Of course, ambitious appetites for advanced technology should not be discouraged. One need only analyze some of the best projects to come out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—not least the technology that jump-started the Internet—to see the value of pairing large budgets and brilliant minds. But allowing multi-million or billion dollar projects to proceed without knowing whether the technology is feasible or useful is too risky. If the Defense Department and the industry know that a project will be limited if it grossly exceeds estimates, they will have an even stronger incentive to do more due diligence up front.

The measures just sketched address some of the structural problems that plague the system. The 9,000 new professional procurement managers promised by Secretary Gates will also help. Few people outside of government appreciate the importance of the management function, or how it has been encumbered by several well-intentioned but unhelpful congressional mandates. The Defense Department, Congress and the President need to develop a stronger combined political will to eliminate pork-barrel defense projects. They also need a more flexible institutional procedure for emergency acquisition so that urgent capabilities can bypass bureaucratic delays, much as Secretary Gates did in procuring the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) outside of the normal process. Finally, we also need a more refined acquisition process that distinguishes between buying weapons and machines, on the one hand, and buying services, such as information technology packages, on the other. Services have become increasingly crucial and make up an ever larger share of Defense Department buys. It makes no sense to procure services the same way we buy a ship or an airplane, but that is essentially what we do.

Personnel and O&M;

We have the ability to create a system of safeguards that can catch unnecessary programs early in their development, adjust or cancel programs operating well beyond their means, and create a culture change in which the Defense Department and contracting businesses expect to be held responsible for developing and delivering necessary capabilities on cost and on time. The question is whether we have the will. But even that will not be enough to rein in a budget spinning out of control. We must also reform the personnel and the operations and maintenance budgets.

Over the past decade, military personnel costs, exclusive of health care, increased from $70 billion to $129 billion, a 44 percent increase in inflation-adjusted terms for a force that remained the same size. (Increases in the size of the ground forces were more than offset by reductions in the sea and air forces.) The average total compensation for each active duty service member in FY2009 will exceed $120,000.

During the same period, the Operations and Maintenance (O&M;) budget, which funds civil service personnel, military health care and training, in addition to equipment maintenance and repair, grew from $98 billion to $180 billion, an increase of approximately 46 percent in inflation-adjusted terms. This works out to about $130,000 per active duty troop, one third more than a decade ago.

The Defense Department needs a personnel system that puts the right people in the right positions and compensates them fairly for their service. The plunge in personnel standards, particularly in the Army, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is well-documented, yet the cost to maintain those personnel has grown. As the nation continues to fight two wars and as the institutional memory of today’s soldiers becomes more valuable, we must find a way to keep costs under control while ensuring that the personnel structure recruits and retains our best fighting men and women.

One necessary reform is to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy signed into law under President Bill Clinton. This policy, which forbids gay and lesbian soldiers from disclosing their sexuality and uses any such disclosure or discovery of homosexual acts as grounds for discharge, has drained our forces of more than 13,000 service members since it began in 1993. Of those 13,000, at least a thousand worked in critical occupations, such as Arabic linguist, that are in short supply. In addition, Gary Gates, a Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute at UCLA, has estimated that about 4,000 people leave the service each year because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (this includes dismissals and voluntarily departures) and an additional 40,000 who have a propensity to enlist do not do so because of this discriminatory policy.8

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” no longer represents the consensus view of the American people. According to recent polls, 69 percent of the public favors allowing gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly. More tellingly, 58 percent of conservatives, a group traditionally thought to oppose the policy, now favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly.9 In his campaign, President Obama promised to repeal this discriminatory policy, but at the urging of Secretary of Defense Gates he has placed it on the back burner and is urging Congress to take the lead in repealing the law.

This shift of momentum toward repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could not come at a more vital time, and it is imperative that the President follow through on his campaign policy. Not only does the policy remove skilled service members from the ranks—incurring on the military not only the costs of discharging the person but also the costs of recruiting and training his replacement—it damages American national security by undermining military readiness. And it does so without sound justification. According to Nathaniel Frank, one of the country’s leading experts on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, “no research has ever shown that openly gay service hurts the military”, and foreign militaries, including Britain, Canada and Israel, have integrated their forces without disruption.10

Of even greater long-term importance is rebalancing the personnel requirements for the international and technological environments we face. U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan trend heavily toward unconventional counterinsurgency campaigns, as may many future U.S. operations. For these door-to-door fights, we need both boots on the ground and institutional experience. When General Stanley McChrystal took command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in June, one of his first acts was to create a unit of 400 officers and senior enlisted members who will regularly rotate back to Afghanistan and replace the Air Force and Navy commanders of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams with Special Operations officers who have served previous tours in Afghanistan and speak the local languages. The goal was to create a core group with specific understanding of Afghanistan and the skills needed to fight the Taliban and other extremist organizations there. Efforts like this are directly undercut not only by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but also by the rotational standard-operating procedures that may make sense in conventional conflicts but not in counterinsurgency campaigns.

We can also make our personnel structure stronger and control costs by reformulating the military’s “up or out” promotion policy. This structure, which allows for only a certain number of officers and senior NCOs to advance to the next rank, regardless of whether a greater number are qualified to serve at the higher level, deplete the ranks of senior leaders who possess desperately needed institutional memory. This policy also restricts the ability, particularly of younger service members, to experiment with non-traditional career tracks. While there should be strong incentive to succeed and advance in the military, non-traditional tracks can benefit our national security.

The “up or out” policy is clearly obsolete and has been for years, as a review of its origins readily shows. It grew out of the 1947 Officer Personnel Act (OPA), which attempted to make space for young officers after World War II. Then-Army Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower noted that the pre-World War II policy had obvious shortcomings. He testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “until we got to the grade of general officer, it was absolutely a lock step promotion; and short of almost crime being committed by an officer, there were ineffectual ways of eliminating a man.”11 While the OPA provided for an “up-or-out” promotion system, Congress continued to allow service members to advance as “temporary officers” outside the system.

OPA was followed by the Officer Grade Limitation Act in 1954, which provided for only a certain number of officers to be promoted to the rank of major and beyond. “Up or out” was put into law in 1980, long after its counterproductive impact was obvious, by the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA), which standardized the system across the services and capped the number of officers above captain in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, and lieutenant in the Navy. It mandated that any officer above that rank who twice fails to gain promotion to the next highest rank must be separated from the armed forces, regardless of whether he or she possesses skills vital to national security.

The result of this restrictive promotion policy is that certain careers become unattractive to the best junior officers. One of the struggles in reforming acquisition policy, for example, is ensuring sufficient military leadership in the field. According to Jacques Gansler, the Chair of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Industrial Structure for Transformation and former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the Defense Contract Management Agency had four general officers serving in 1990; today it has none.12 Military expertise can help us to shape contracts that will deliver the capabilities our troops need, but no officer expecting to make a career of military service wants to work in a career path where the skills he or she is developing offer no help in advancing through the “up-or-out” system.

Moreover, “up or out” wastes taxpayer money by forcing the early dismissal of highly skilled workers who have been expensive to train. By the time an officer is promoted into the upper ranks of the military, the U.S. taxpayer has made a substantial investment in both time and money to make sure that that person can lead in a particular field. For example, in 1999, the GAO estimated that it costs $1 million per pilot who completes basic flight training and more than $9 million to fully train that person.13 These costs have undoubtedly risen since then. Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, an Air Force combat pilot who is facing dismissal under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, has estimated that the Air Force spent $25 million training him throughout his 18 years of service. Just when service members engaged in a specialized technical field reach their maximum utility for the military, “up or out” forces us to dismiss large numbers of them.

The President and Congress should repeal DOPMA to allow our military to create a more experienced and diverse group of leaders. Yet repealing it need not open the doors to every officer who wishes to advance in the service. Congress should work with the Defense Department to establish strict standards for promotion that take into account both traditional and non-traditional experience as well as leadership and ability.


Even if the Defense Department undertakes these changes, personnel costs could still rise too rapidly. There are two actions President Obama can take to control this growth.

First, he can work with the Defense Department and Congress to reform the cost structure of TRICARE, the military’s health care system. While nobody wants to undermine the right of all members of the military and their dependents to have access to the best health care available, the cost of maintaining the system continues to outpace inflation. The Department requested $41.6 billion for health costs in FY2009 and predicted that costs will likely reach $64 billion by FY2015, an increase of 54 percent in just five years. A decade ago, these costs were below $20 billion.

To a considerable degree, rising costs in military health care mirror rising health care costs in general. But the military system is subject to some special considerations. One way to slow the cost growth in military health is to limit double coverage for retirees. While all former service members in need of insurance should have access to the government plan, the TRICARE system should be placed off-limits to retired service members who have alternate coverage available through a spouse or a civilian job and sufficient income to comfortably pay the premiums for these alternative plans.

The TRICARE system already regulates the use of military health care when a beneficiary is covered by multiple plans. The 2002 TRICARE Reimbursement Manual contains a policy that states, “If other coverage exists, TRICARE coverage is available only as secondary payer, and only after a claim has been filed with the other plan and a payment determination issued.”14 Yet retired service members, many of whom are in their forties, who are covered under a TRICARE plan may refuse to accept additional coverage under a plan offered by a new employer, thus leaving TRICARE to cover all medical costs (although employers are legally forbidden from offering incentives for TRICARE beneficiaries to do this). This is what we need to fix. The Defense Department and Congress should work to establish a fair income level beyond which retired TRICARE beneficiaries must prove that they do not have access to an additional plan through their family or employer. This effort should not preclude a beneficiary from receiving TRICARE benefits later in life if their income drops, or if other health care plans become unavailable.

While this may seem a small mechanism for cost savings, the Congressional Research Service noted in 2008, “Even with the need to care for injuries resulting from the U.S. commitment to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the bulk of DoD medical care is currently provided to dependents and retirees—not to the operating forces.”15 Bringing down these costs without imposing an unreasonable burden on our service men and women is a sensible way to trim the defense personnel budget.

A second personnel cost-control option is to take a broader view of military compensation when considering pay increases, an idea advanced in the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation, which was prepared under former President George W. Bush. Of course, the military’s pay structure must adequately compensate our service members for their work and provide sufficient compensation to attract and retain highly skilled troops. But comparisons between military and civilian pay scales can be misleading. As noted by the QRMC, some military benefits outweigh those offered in the civilian sector and should be accounted for when comparing compensation levels.16

The QRMC points out that military pay already equals or exceeds the average salaries of civilian workers with comparable educational backgrounds. For example, “the average enlisted member earned approximately $5,400 more in 2006 than his or her civilian counterpart when comparing cash compensation, but $10,600 more when selected benefits are included in the comparison.” While military pay should certainly keep pace with civilian increases, Congress and the Administration should use the Military Annual Compensation scales when proposing pay increases over this level, rather than the less inclusive Regular Military Compensation, precisely what the QRMC recommends. The former takes into account “cash compensation (Regular Military Compensation) as well as health care, retirement and the state and Social Security tax advantages” available to members of the military.

However, in making decisions on military pay, Congress has consistently ignored this recommendation. For example, the Armed Services Committee approved a 3.4 percent military pay raise for fiscal year 2010, an increase that exceeds the projected 2.9 percent increase in private sector salaries, and that was the increase recommended by the Obama Administration. This will increase not only personnel costs but also the O&M; budget, which funds civil service personnel, since Congress normally gives them the same increase as military personnel.

It is clear that the Defense Department can no longer continue to spend more and more to buy less and less. It needs to reform the way it procures its weapons and how it compensates its workforce and maintains its equipment. And Congress needs to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If experience is any guide, however, it will take the personal investment of time and political capital of the President and the Secretary of Defense to get much of anything done. Left to their own devices, the services, the military industry and Congress will continue to push and pull one another to no decisive effect. American service men and women will ultimately pay the price.

There is a new urgency in this, too. Gone are the days when Cold War exigencies made very large defense budgets sacrosanct. Gone are the days when dysfunctional procurement processes merely made things slower and more expensive, but still reliably delivered the best goods. If we don’t fix what is wrong with the Defense Department now, while we still have some fiscal room to maneuver and a buffer of technological superiority in most fields, we may well have to do so under far less propitious economic and strategic circumstances. Providing for the common defense today thus means not putting off solutions until tomorrow.

1“Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs”, Government Accountability Office (March 2009).
2“Review of Acquisition Program Costs”, Defense Business Board, October 23, 2008.
3Jeffrey Smith, “Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings”, Washington Post, July 10, 2009.
4Kate Cell, “Green, Baby, Green”, Newsletter of Economists for Peace and Security (November 2008).
5MDAPs are those programs designated as such by the Pentagon, or those programs which meet a certain cost threshold for their procurement and research, design, test and evaluation budgets.
6Sambur, “2 Rules for DoD Acquisition”, Defense News, February 16, 2009.
7Sullivan, “DoD Must Balance Its Needs with Available Resources and Follow an Incremental Approach to Acquiring Weapon Systems”, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
8Gates, “Testimony on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, by Gary J. Gates”, U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing, July 18, 2008; Gates, “Effect of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ on Retention among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Military Personnel”, The Williams Institute (March 2007).
9“Conservatives, Churchgoers Show Increased Support for Gays in Military”, CQ Politics, June 5, 2009.
10Frank, “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was always on shaky grounds”, USA Today, March 12, 2009.
11Bernard D. Rostker, Harry J. Thie, et al., “The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980” (RAND, 1993).
12“Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Acquisition of Major Weapons Systems By the Department of Defense and on S. 454, the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009”, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 3, 2009.
13“Military Personnel: Actions Needed to Better Define Pilot Requirements and Promote Retention”, Government Accountability Office (August 1999).
14“Double Coverage”, TRICARE Reimbursement Manual 6010.55-M, August 1, 2002.
15Richard A. Best Jr., “Increases in Tricare Costs: Background and Options for Congress”, Congressional Research Service, May 6, 2008.
16“Report of the Tenth Quarennial Review of Military Compensation, Vol. 1”, Department of Defense (February 2008).

Lawrence Korb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information. Laura Conley is a special assistant at the Center for American Progress.