Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he plans to propose changes to the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which changed the way the military’s chain of command is structured, within the next month. “We’ll be discussing that with them [Congress] and hearing their ideas and trying to come up with the best possible ideas for the country going forward,” he said Friday morning at a Politico-sponsored breakfast. One change he said he’d like to make is to “strengthen” the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but not “in any way that subtracts from their ability also to give independent military advice,” he said, according to Politico. Carter on Thursday praised the Senate Armed Services Committee’s focus on reforming Goldwater-Nichols, which he said “was important and had deeply positive results,” but “needs updates.” At a SASC hearing in December, committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that Goldwater-Nichols was passed “in response to serious concerns about the effectiveness of our military,” and that while the US victory in Desert Storm suggested the reforms worked, “more recent experience on the battlefield has led to renewed concern about the respective roles and responsibilities of the service chiefs and the combatant commanders as conceived in Goldwater-Nichols.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.