Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Does Military Budget Cuts Offer New Opportunities?

The world is changing and the military is changing with it. As the heavy trench warfare of WWI and WWII subsides and new forms of guerrilla warfare emerge it becomes important for the U.S. military to maintain its capacity to use both pinpointed and mass insertion strategies. This requires a higher level of knowledge and ability that will likely put pressure on the Army to adapt to higher forms of combat.

General Martin Dempsey announced at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing that dwindling resources is a major factor in a reduction from 490,000 to 450,000 troops (1).  There has already been a 13% in civilian and 11% in civilian billets (2). This will mean that current resource levels will need to be used more efficiently and effectively to ensure that they create maximum results.

What happens in government is important for the Army. Overspending in some areas leaves other areas with less. Balancing the national budget ensures that the military has adequate supplies and resources when they are needed. Resources are used as a deterrent and as a capacity builder for our armed forces.

Even though reduction in budgets does come with some tough choices it does offer a few opportunities to adapt the system to do more with less. All systems change the most when under pressure. The Army’s design can be improved to encourage new ideas, technology, learning, and skill sets that can create responsiveness to new threats. It is possible to use the platform of the old to create something even greater.

The military of the future will look less like the past as new levels of functionality are created. Robotics and high technology gear will make their way onto the battlefield and this will require a new type of soldier. Recruits will need to be highly adaptable, fast learners, and high skilled to keep up with new needs.

A few ideas among the thousands:

-Integration of Functions with Other Agencies: ISIS has taught us that lines between insurgent and civilian can be blurred. Integrating certain intelligence and operational functions helps utilize information more effectively.

-Outsourcing Non-Essential Functions:  Entities that focus on their core value propositions often have higher results due to focus of effort. Evaluate which functions are non-essential and whether or not they can be outsourced to save money and improve functionality. For example, some aspects of education and training can be outsourced.

-Actively Recruiting High Performers: Actively recruiting promising young recruits that either have the potential or realized physical and mental skill to engage in modern military practices creates a stronger base to build from. With fewer slots available the basic skill requirements should move upward.

-Using Veterans in Support Functions: Veterans knowledge and skill shouldn’t be wasted once they leave the military. Encouraging veteran’s to work in support functions helps to ensure that these functions get more efficient and effective over time.  

-Developing Innovative Internal Frameworks: Developing mechanisms for the exploration and implementation of new knowledge, ideas, and efficiencies. The same innovative policies and approaches should be encouraged among suppliers.  A flatter organization could be beneficial with a rise in soldier skill and knowledge.

-Raising Active Duty Years: Higher skills will require additional costly training.  Raising the years of service requirements and potential pay/incentives for highly skilled soldiers encourages a higher return on investment from training. Age is more subjective in today’s world.

-Streamline and Cut Fat: Once new ideas are developed and are shown to be effective they should be streamlined to create efficiencies while still allowing for sufficient adaptability. Streamlining allows for less waste and greater effectiveness that saves taxpayer dollars.

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