The goal of the Straus Military Reform Project is to secure far more effective military forces and much more ethical and professional military and civilian leadership at significantly lower budget levels. The Project was formed in 2005 to expand the work of the Center for Defense Information in advancing military reform in the Pentagon and Congress. The Project seeks to achieve the elusive goal of meaningful Pentagon reform by fostering a fundamentally better informed public on questions such as the size and nature of the defense budget, especially its many offenses to the American taxpayer, a Congress more inclined to perform real oversight—rather than the pretense, and affordable, effective weapons that service the needs of the men and women in our armed forces—rather than the gluttony of selfish elements of corporations and a dysfunctional political system. The Project has also sought to probe the origins and costs—human and material—of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere so that such tragedies can be avoided in the future.
The Project was made possible by a matching grant from Philip A. Straus, Jr., whose family has long supported activities at the Center for Defense Information and who remains a major supporter of the Project’s activities. The Project continues today based on grants from Mr. Straus and, especially, the support of other individual donors, both large and small.
In 1971, the Center for Defense Information was founded by a uniquely independent group of retired military officers to analyze military matters, inform decision-makers and the public, and influence policy. CDI became an alternative voice to what founders Admiral Gene LaRocque and Admiral Eugene Carroll believed was a Pentagon that was focused primarily on pushing self-serving data and analysis at decision-makers.
CDI, like the Straus Military Reform Project today, took no money from defense contractors or the government, and it published fact-based research and policy advice that attempted to put basic national security needs front and center. What set the organization apart from typical DC think tanks was that it was led by conscientious military officers—retired generals, admirals, colonels, majors, captains—who were challenging ill-informed conventional wisdom and self-interested defense contractor disinformation rather than promoting either.
For over four decades, CDI has evolved, as all healthy organizations do. Although the original admirals and generals are no longer at the helm, their maverick spirit of loyal dissent lives on. Former CDI people are scattered throughout journalism and defense analysis. From challenging the need to exceed Cold War spending levels to challenging ill-advised military interventions to questioning unaffordable, under-performing weapon systems, CDI has been at the forefront of independent research on the central issues in defense policy. Most recently, veteran Capitol Hill staffer and GAO assistant director Winslow Wheeler has directed CDI’s Straus Military Reform Project, conducting research and providing analysis that speaks, even if occasionally disrespectfully, truth to power.
In May 2012, the Project On Government Oversight was proud to welcome Winslow and the CDI legacy into our family.
CDI and POGO have always shared a passion for exposing hypocrisy and challenging nonsense in the Pentagon, White House, and Congress. Now we are doing it together.
We would like to thank Philip A. Straus Jr. and family for their generous support.