Kate Kidder, associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation, Capt. Jerry Hendrix (USN, Ret.), VP of the Telemus Group, and Col. Dan Merry (USAF, Ret.), VP of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America, discuss the year’s top defense news, and what to look for in 2019.
From the Pentagon’s cloud contracts, to the Army Futures Command achieving initial capability, it was a big year for the defense ecosystem. Government Matters convened a panel of defense experts to discuss what federal news had the biggest impact on the country’s national defense. Kate Kidder, associate political scientist, at the RAND Corporation— “On the military personnel front, there were a number of new authorizations in the NDAA that will enable flexibility for the services to think more creatively about their recruitment and retention strategies. Those include more structured credit from the private sector, perhaps the cyber field, but it also enables more flexibility in the length of military careers. There are now enough provisions to enable services to keep someone for up to 40 years if the service feels that individual meets the requirements.” Capt. Jerry Hendrix (USN, Ret.), VP of the Telemus Group— “I think the discussion about the Space Force is one of the most contentious issues that have been raised. You are talking about the largest potential reorganization of the Department of Defense since the 1947 act that created the Department of Defense… There’s a lot of debate going on. Clearly the president is pushing for an independent Space Force. The Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force is still interested in nesting those capabilities within the Air Force, There’s a tension going on that is very reminiscent of the post‑World War II debate that created the Air Force.” Col. Dan Merry (USAF, Ret.), VP of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America— “From our perspective, The NDAA [went very smoothly] through both houses and on to signature. This gives the services the chance to actually plan and program a lot better than going from continuing resolution to continuing resolution, where they rely on stopgap measures and half‑baked contracts. This is an opportunity for them to lay in some serious work. The challenge is going to be, do the appropriations stick? Is sequestration going to kick in? Are budget caps going to kick in, and are we going to start all over again in 2019.”