The issue of the services not providing proper funding for their morale, welfare and recreation programs hasn't been resolved and likely will become the new administration's problem, said a defense official who has been pushing the services for details on why they haven't met requirements.
"I am determined to have some kind of proposal on moving forward before I leave here," Todd Weiler, assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, told Military Times on Thursday. "It will be in the form of a recommendation for the new administration."
Weiler had expressed concern to the services about their failure to fully fund their MWR programs, with each branch falling short of DoD budget requirements. The services must pay for a certain percentage of some MWR programs using taxpayer money, a rule that would guarantee a minimum level of MWR support and prevent service members and their families from bearing costs that should be borne with taxpayer funding, Weiler wrote in memos sent in September to service officials.
"These standards are not optional and are not subject to Military Department waiver," he wrote.
Weiler also asked Army Secretary Eric Fanning to delay plans for a $105 million cut to the service's MWR funds, or about 23 percent of the MWR budget. Fanning put a hold on the cuts until Army officials have completed a thorough analysis.
While the Army’s review has reportedly been completed, Army officials have asked for more information, Weiler said.
"I want to be thoughtful in the way we do things," Weiler said in an interview. "I just think there are better ways to do business, be more efficient, so that we can deliver the services to the people that need them."
In the family support area, there are probably some ways to be more efficient, he said. "Everybody has a responsibility to do their part. That's one of the benefits of having someone who's run a business. I can bring some capabilities to make recommendations on how we can either keep or improve the level of services at the funding levels we're at, by being more efficient."
This is a different all-volunteer force than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, he said, and what's needed at one installation may be less important at another, suggesting the Pentagon avoid a "cookie-cutter approach."
"What I can do is find efficiencies – how to do business better and make sure the money that's intended to go to local folks to support them gets to them," Weiler said.
Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.