Former Defense Officials Support Eliminating AT&L Position

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s proposal to eliminate the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and give his duties to undersecretaries for Research and Engineering and for Management and Support was supported Thursday by three former top defense officials. Former senior Pentagon officials John Hamre and Dov Zakheim, and retired Army Gen. Carter Ham told the House Armed Services Committee that the current AT&L office, headed by Frank Kendall, was not enabling the military to keep up with potential adversaries in the rapid changes in technology. Zakheim, a former DOD comptroller, said the fact that the Defense Department “created a rapid acquisition process to get around its own system,” demonstrated that “something is wrong.” The House did not include that provision in its defense authorization and it is strongly opposed by the administration. In the HASC hearing on changing the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols defense reform law, the three officials endorsed the view from both committees that the White House National Security Council has become too big and has shifted from its original role of developing and coordinating federal agencies’ national security policies to interfering in military operations. Hamre said he heard that NSC staffers even tried to order a Navy ship to change course.