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Pentagon Leaders Testing New Decision-Making Process

Nov. 27, 2012 - 09:17PM   |  
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The top 2 uniformed U.S. military leaders are experimenting with a grading system that will assist them and other senior-level commanders make wide-ranging decisions from funding recommendations to using military force.

This process — instituted by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, the vice chairman — is already assisting Pentagon officials as they develop DoD’s 2014 budget request.

Pentagon officials are currently crafting a 2014 budget request, which will further incorporate elements of a new military strategy DoD unveiled in January.

Dempsey wants to use “national security interests as a sharper decision-driver than just ways and means that are currently in the strategy,” Winnefeld said during a Nov. 27 speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

“As this gets tougher, we’re going to have to rely more on a very careful consideration of ends as we look at ways and means,” he said.

In priority order from “most vital to important,” combatant commanders and service chiefs must characterize decisions against a number of national security factors identified in a document called the “Chairman’s Risk Assessment,” which is Dempsey’s assessment of how DoD should implement the U.S. national security strategy.

Winnefeld characterized this approach an “experiment for us in how we might contribute to the decision-making process as the chairman makes his best military advice recommendations.”

Dempsey and Winnefeld are looking at using this process “as a way to help guide us … in the recommendations that we might make to the secretary and the deputy secretary on what investment decisions we might make,” Winnefeld said.

Congress has not passed a 2013 defense budget, so the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution. Further complicating things for Pentagon budget planners is about $500 billion in defense spending cuts slated begin in Jan. 2 and be spread over the next decade unless Congress strikes a deficit reduction deal.

“It’s possible that however this all falls out — and it’s very likely actually — that we have more difficult decisions ahead of us as a department,” Winnefeld said.

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