William Perry

What needs to change to defend America

By Stephen J. Hadley and William J. Perry

For the past six months, we led a bipartisan panel of former national security and military leaders in reviewing the document laying out the Defense Department’s plans for the next 20 years. The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released this year was prepared by a Pentagon focused on responding to the threats America faces and winning the wars in which America is engaged. We had some compliments and some criticisms of the QDR, as well as suggestions for crafting a broader longer-term vision for America’s military and national power.

The issues in our report are sufficiently serious that we believe an explicit warning is appropriate. The aging inventories and equipment used by the services, the decline in the size of the Navy, escalating personnel entitlements, increased overhead and procurement costs, and the growing stress on our military forces amount to a looming train wreck in personnel, acquisition and force structure. We are confident that the trend lines can be reversed, but doing so will require an ongoing, bipartisan concentration of political will. A "business as usual" attitude toward these concerns could have unacceptable consequences for the nation.

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