What's Next

Over the next decade, the Defense Department will undergo a transformation unlike any it has experienced in recent memory. It will be required to reduce the size of the military force, continue to reorganize its infrastructure of installations and find a way to modernize weapons systems while cutting its overall budget significantly. 

That effort will require an unprecedented level of innovation and effective management by Defense leaders—both military and civilian. 

These leaders face not only a daunting strategic and policy challenge, but an imperative to restructure, innovate and take out costs—all while ensuring that the nation’s warfighters retain the capacity to meet the country’s security needs. 

The past decade has seen revolutionary changes in defense technology, strategy and tactics, from the massive growth in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles  to a renewed reliance on counter-insurgency tactics. 

The next decade will have to see a similar revolution in the management and operations of the Defense Department. For example, curbing the cost growth in health care and pay and benefits will be critical to meeting budget imperatives. It is these kinds of challenges that we explore in this special issue of Government Executive

In the article “The Next War,” Sydney Freedberg assesses how the answers to today’s budget questions—which weren’t even close to being addressed this summer—will determine how U.S. forces will operate in a highly uncertain world. In the process, the military services are jostling for position and pushing new concepts such as AirSea Battle (based on long-range strikes from drones, stealth aircraft, surface ships and submarines) and hybrid war (a mix of counterinsurgency tactics and conventional combat).

In “Course Correction,” Dan Taylor profiles Vice Adm. David Venlet, who has arguably the least enviable job in all the defense world—getting the massive, troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program back on track. Given that the program’s 15-year history has been characterized as a story of “acquisition malpractice,” keeping costs and schedules under control at this point will be no mean feat.

In “Keeping the Faith,” senior correspondent Kellie Lunney explores how the military is seeking to rein in burgeoning personnel costs (up more than 90 percent since 2001) without breaking its long-standing commitment to service members and their families about the pay and benefits they will receive. It is, to say the least, a tricky balance.

In “Cyber Fallout,” Nextgov’s Aliya Sternstein delves into the rapidly evolving world of cyberwarfare. Two key factors—a critical cyber fighter shortage and the dedication to protecting the civil liberties of Americans—will make it a big challenge to carry our success in conventional warfare into the cyber arena.

Also in this issue, longtime congressional staffer Winslow T. Wheeler and Marion C. Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, debate the potential impact of a defense budget sequester. Neither of them thinks the sequester is a sound approach, but they differ on just how devastating cutting the defense budget would be. 

Finally, the last word in the issue goes to our own intrepid reporter Bob Brewin, who reflects on the difference between what a radio operator carries into battle today and what he had on his back in Vietnam. The technology may be very different, he writes, but some things just don’t change.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.