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Carter: Goldwater-Nichols Reforms Coming in 'Weeks'

March 4, 2016 (Photo Credit: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee/Defense Department)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The first Goldwater-Nichols reforms and proposed reforms will be rolled out by the Pentagon in “just a few weeks' time,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Friday.

At least some reforms will be based around how to better use the Defense Department's cyber capabilities and will involve giving services more say in the acquisition system. Carter also said that the reforms will be released piecemeal.

“We won’t necessarily do them all at once,” he told reporters here Friday. “We’ll do them as we conclude the studies underlining them. But very shortly, we’ll begin to do that.”

“We’ll propose things as we conclude our studies of them,” he added. “Some of these things will require legislation and therefore we will be asking the Congress to consider them. I hope they will be persuasive, and therefore accepted by the Congress. In other cases they will be things that don’t require legislation at all.”

The reforms will take aim at revamping the language of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which reoriented the balance of power in the Pentagon. While the system worked well for a time, both members of Congress and Pentagon leaders have expressed a belief that the system needs to be reworked for the modern battlefield.

Before Goldwater-Nichols, the individual service chiefs reported to the president, and the legislation was meant in part to fix rivalries between the services. NDAA acquisition-reform provisions shift responsibility and accountability over major program cost overruns to the service chiefs.

Asked whether the reform studies are looking at cyber, Carter signaled affirmative and highlighted it as a perfect example of how things have changed since the structure was put in place. He did not give more details about his views on that.

He did, however, reiterate past support for the services to have greater say in the acquisition system.

“In respect to the acquisition system, for example, something I am very much in favor of, we have some ways of doing this and are doing it, which is to involve the armed services more heavily in the acquisition process,” Carter said. “I’m strongly in favor of that.”


Twitter: @AaronMehta

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