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Top general: 5 bad habits for the Pentagon to fix (+video)

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Gen. Martin Dempsey, the nation’s top ranking military officer, says there are at least five areas in US defense operations where bad habits have developed, which tighter Pentagon budgets will force the military to fix.

General Dempsey, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier this month told The New York Times that, “We’ve been living with unconstrained resources for 10 years, and, frankly, we’ve developed some bad habits,” which he vowed to overcome.

At a lunch with reporters hosted by the Monitor Tuesday, Dempsey was asked to be specific about the bad habits he saw. He immediately listed five areas which, he cautioned, were “not an all inclusive list.”

Here, in the general’s own words, is the list, in the order he gave it.

  • “In our acquisition programs … there is certainly room to become more efficient.”
  • “Over the years, our health-care costs have exceeded expectations in a, no-pun intended, unhealthy way.”
  • “On infrastructure – and these are places where we could use the help of the United States Congress, actually – we haven’t had to reduce the scope and scale of our infrastructure accounts. I think we will have to do so under the budget authorities that we see coming our way.”
  • “Even in operations, I think there [are] times when we probably overinvested. We might be able to accomplish the task in different areas of the world with fewer resources, if we forced ourselves to think about how to do that.”
  • “Our reliance upon contractors is excessive, in particular in certain aspects of the use of contractors.”
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