Ideas. Action. Results.

New Task Force on Defense Personnel to Push for Military Modernization

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The United States risks failing to recruit, retain, and prepare a force adequate to meet future demands and new threats, despite ongoing efforts to support military and civilian defense personnel.

The Bipartisan Policy Center today launched the Task Force on Defense Personnel which will make innovative recommendations to create a modern force that is both effective in its mission and attractive to future generations of talented Americans.

The 25-member Task Force is led by four co-chairs: Leon Panetta, former defense secretary and CIA director; former Senator Jim Talent; retired General Jim Jones, former White House national security advisor; and Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families.

The co-chairs will participate in a panel discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center today, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The task force is also releasing a new report, Losing Our Edge: Pentagon Personnel Reform and the Dangers of Inaction.

A redesigned and more adaptable force is needed to enable the military to grow, evolve, and become more capable in the face of new and varied threats. To date, the military has failed to make the necessary changes.

“The U.S. military derives its strength from superior technology and a force of dedicated and capable men and women who volunteered to serve their country. To preserve our military advantage, we must ensure both of these elements of our military strength remain capable of succeeding against future threats,” Panetta said.

“Evolving security challenges demand a fully funded and agile military capable of deterring or defeating all foreseeable threats. The Pentagon must challenge itself by examining its processes carefully, allocating resources to areas of need, and being responsive to the real concerns of servicemembers about their quality of life,” Talent said.

“The unreformed manner in which human costs, both civilian and military have grown in the last decade suggests that an affordability catastrophe is fast approaching. Left unchanged, the situation will adversely impact the capabilities and readiness of the Armed Forces to respond to 21st century challenges,” Jones said.

“Some of the best are deciding to leave the military early. One reason for poor retention might have to do with the incompatibility of the military lifestyle with the demands of modern professional and family life. Military members live a very different life than their civilian counterparts. This cannot continue if the goal is to draw top talent to military service,” Roth-Douquet said.