Reviewing Military Services’ Roles and Responsibilities

The Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies on Thursday called for a “21st century review” of the military services’ roles and missions, and asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to consider realigning its subcommittee structure “to mirror modern capabilities.” Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula told the committee that a roles and missions review should examine the redundancies and overlap across the services, and that in order to cut costs, the Pentagon should begin by cutting the Office of the Secretary of Defense by 25 percent. Additionally, he said, US Cyber Command should stand up as a combatant command “as soon as possible,” and military force management should change from a system “that values risk avoidance” to one that “rewards innovative thinking, instead of punishing it.” Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the purpose of the hearing was for the committee to consider the roles and missions of the armed forces, which have evolved “largely in ad hoc and reactive ways, driven more by budgetary pressures than strategic direction.” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the committee’s highest-ranking Democrat, said that while “starting from scratch is obviously not an option,” today’s military is not what the US would build if starting fresh. Because of budget constraints, he said, the government must “seek efficiencies while at the same time endeavoring to shape our military to the threats we are most likely to face in the future.” (Deptula prepared testimony.)