Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Interservice Rivalry and a "Bidding" Process

Most military objectives don’t fall squarely into the jurisdiction of one branch of the military. As a result multiple branches of the military are often attempting to complete the same objectives and address the same problems. This problem is further compounded by each branch of the military having not the same, but often similar capabilities and equipment available to them. This overlap can be beneficial if they in conjunction with one another are able to better achieve their goals. Alternatively, money and time can be wasted if multiple branches are addressing the problem in the same manner.

The budgeting process usually settles the disputes over which responsibilities are delegated to each branch. This has been beneficial in that it has allowed for competition between the branches similar to a free market. This idea could be elaborated further to push for more efficiency. A recent article by defense news argues just this. Essentially they believe that the interservice rivalry should be harnessed as a “force for good.” To do this, not all of the funding  should not be allocated immediately. It should be dispersed based on the proposals of each branch. The most efficient branch would then be delegated the responsibility.

While this approach may make the military more cost efficient, it fails to recognize the possibility that overlap improves overall readiness and efficiency in achieving military objectives. It also fails to consider what other aspects of the budgeting process it may alter. The “force for good” may lead to increased politicization within the military budget. In order to accommodate the political objectives of those reviewing the proposals, the military may shift their proposals. A “bidding” process between the branches could be disastrous in that it could shift the focus of the military from defense to cost efficiency. A better way to make the military more cost efficient would be to reduce threats by meeting them where they arise, investing in humanitarian assistance and development.

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