(Editor’s note: The following is an Op Ed written by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the HASC Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities.)
A scan of any week’s headlines makes clear that the world is not getting any safer, nor are our security challenges getting any simpler. We face a complex array of threats, known and unknown.
Yet, we will have to meet those threats with tight defense budgets for the foreseeable future. Even if Congress and the President can agree to find other savings to replace further defense cuts under sequestration — which we should — the United States will still have to meet essentially unlimited threats with quite limited resources. That means it is more important than ever to get the most value possible out of each dollar spent on our national security.
Too much of the money spent now is not used as efficiently or as effectively as it should be. Upward of 10 percent of the entire federal discretionary budget goes to buying things for our troops, ranging from tanks to toilet paper. Reform of defense acquisition – the goods as well as the services we buy – must be a top priority.
There are a lot of good people in and out of government who work hard to see that our military is provided with the best. But they operate in a system that too often works against them. Heavy federal regulations drive up the cost of military hardware. There are nearly 2000 pages of acquisition regulations on the books, many of which have not been reviewed in years. Too often, Congress and the Pentagon respond to cost overruns by adding another law or an additional oversight office.