An Open Letter to Senators Wyden and Merkley

Paul Evans

Senators Wyden and Merkley:

Congratulations upon your recent appointment to the Budget Conference Committee. You reflect the best and brightest of the US Senate; you are both an identified value for Oregonians. I know you are likely receiving advice for potential savings from citizens across the ideological and policy spectrum/s. I am not qualified to advance suggestions on many policy areas, but we have spoken in the past about potential benefits from restructuring the United States Department of Defense. These are offered in support of that outcome.

Your list of tasks is long and the time is short – I urge you both to review these suggestions for consideration for your upcoming conference negotiations. For context, I have included copies of recent letters sent to US Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Chuck Hagel, Senator Patty Murray, and Congressman Paul Ryan on similar matters. Given the scale, shape, and size of the challenges before us we cannot, we must not allow an opportunity for serious analysis of our largest bureaucracy pass without at least an attempt at reform. Accordingly, I offer the following:

  1. Pass into law a requirement for automatic 35% reductions in force (RIF) among flag officers (all uniformed services) by not later than (NLT) January 2017. The legislation could introduce retirement incentives from now until the end of 2016 with automatic cuts enforced at midnight December 31, 2016. This would significantly enhance the ongoing realignment efforts and simplify the work of the SECDEF in consolidating major and minor command structures and systems;

  2. Pass into law a requirement for enhanced mandatory reporting and transparency standards to assist with oversight for major weapons systems cost-overruns and/or operational test failures. These measurements should be made available on the primary Pentagon website. In cases of continued failures, corporations and the men and women that lead them should be punished criminally. Malfeasance in the defense environment is a clear and present danger to our national security;

  3. Pass into law a requirement for automatic surtaxes associated with major combat operations exceeding the War Power Act time constraints. This law would require at least 60 votes to suspend and be added to all Congressional Resolutions associated with extending active military operations longer than 90-days. For the initial twelve months the surtax (on income taxes) would equal at least 1% (with an additional 1% added every year major operations continue);

  4. Pass into law a requirement for a study of total force structure that includes cost analysis (and potential savings) associated with realignment/transfer of three (3) US Army combat divisions into the National Guard and ten (10) US Air Force wings into the Air National Guard. This assessment should include full-time active-duty to part-time Drill Status Guardsman (DSG) career cost comparisons, retirement cost comparisons, as well as operational capability comparisons. Final report NLT than May 2014;

  5. Pass into law a requirement for a study of contracted service within the DoD that includes analysis of “kill-chain” contracted services, proven “savings” realized through contracted food, shelter, support, and transportation functions, and other aspects of the recent transformation of accelerated contracting within the DoD;

  6. Pass into law a “freeze” on design, development, construction, and acceptance of all additional Littoral Combat Ships (beyond the six that have either been delivered or will be within the next twelve months). This program warrants additional study and a freeze would at least temporarily provide $10-20 Billion for redistribution. Existing (and likely) construction and performance challenges justify a halt on production; and

  7. Pass into law a “freeze” on design, development, and testing of all advanced manned bomber prototypes. Recent budgets have provided initial development funds for a type of aircraft our aerospace strategists have yet to demonstrate a need for. We must fund what we “need,” but not all we may “want.” In the age of airborne laser, electronic-net-centric, and unmanned weaponry, there is a lingering debate over the value of a next generation long-range manned bomber. We must settle this issue prior to spending another penny.

Thank you for considering this letter. I deeply appreciate your sustained commitment to our nation, states, and communities. You and your peers on the conference committee will remain in our prayers. Together you can challenge conventional thinking; together you can force the men and women that claim to value our troops – to act on their behalf – to recast the DoD into a defense structure ready for the challenges of the 21st Century.



Major Paul L. Evans, USAF (Ret.)

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