The defense reform consensus
About This Event

Event Summary

On Capitol Hill on Monday afternoon, defense scholars from across the political spectrum joined together in an unprecedented effort to emphasize the need for overdue fundamental Pentagon reform. The panel included analysts representing the 25 signatories of the defense reform consensus letter published in The Hill newspaper on Monday morning.

These liberal, libertarian, and conservative thinkers urged Congress and the administration to reduce excess domestic bases, to shrink the defense civilian workforce, and to adjust military compensation. Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN), ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, confirmed that this effort is necessary and important and that it will require perseverance on the part of all parties to accomplish.

The bipartisan group stressed that with structural costs on the rise and the defense budget being squeezed from within, spending on core military capabilities and readiness is being crowded out. Left unchecked, the Pentagon and Congress may soon be forced to choose between maintaining the status quo or losing America’s military preeminence.

While the road to reform will be hard, all agreed that it is the only responsible way forward.
--Charles Morrison

Event Description

With gridlock being a central feature of Washington politics, it is all the more remarkable when conservatives, libertarians, liberals, and centrists agree. When it comes to military spending, these groups are united around the imperative for structural Pentagon reforms to address rising internal costs relating to excess domestic bases, to the size of the US Department of Defense’s (DOD) civilian workforce, and to military compensation.

While acting to address these politically sensitive areas will not be easy, the Pentagon no longer has an option. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has argued, “the biggest long-term fiscal challenge facing the Department is not the flat or declining topline budget. It is the growing imbalance in where that money is being spent internally.”

Join representatives from AEI, the Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, the Center for American Progress, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Foreign Policy Initiative, and the Stimson Center as they discuss the bipartisan consensus surrounding the need for fundamental reform at DOD.

The views expressed at this event and in the letter to policymakers are those of the participating individuals alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations.


11:45 AM

12:00 PM
Panel Discussion
1:15 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Charles Morrison at, 202.862.5945.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact, 202.862.5829.

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AEI Participants


  • Mackenzie Eaglen has worked on defense issues in the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon's major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense related issues, she has also testified before Congress.


    Follow Mackenzie Eaglen on Twitter.

  • Phone: (202) 862-7183
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Charles Morrison
    Phone: (202) 862-5945
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