The United States has the best fighting men and women in the world in its military, but they are backed by a personnel system that is extremely outdated, former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday.
"It was developed after World War II to deal with the Soviet Union," Panetta, who co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Defense Personnel, told NBC's"Today" show.
"Frankly, it's 70-years-old and it doesn't keep up with the needs we face today in 2017."
Today's military needs a personnel system that "reaches out to the skills we're going to need in cyber, in languages, in technology, and really tries to retain people in those areas," said Panetta. "That's what we need in order to be able to provide for security in this country."
Panetta, who served in the cabinet posts under former President Barack Obama and as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, said the task force will release a report on Monday about ideas for reforming the military's personnel system and bringing it up to date.
He told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that the report will detail how the system is too out of date to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.
"We are dealing with the need for counterterrorism, for cyber capability, for the ability to use unmanned systems, for the ability to have language capabilities," said Panetta. "Very frankly, we are not retaining people that have to have those skills, so what we are saying is let's reach out to develop that kind of skill base that is absolutely essential to a military in the 21st century."
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Panetta later told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" that he agrees with President Donald Trump that the nation's defense system needs strengthened, but the budget system that led to weakness is the fault of both parties.
"We had a budget act that cut almost $500 billion from the defense budget," Panetta said, but then we had the so-called sequester, which was this cut across the board that was implemented in Congress and hurt defense readiness that much more.
"So I do think that we need to gradually provide not only an increase [for] defense, but we need greater certainty with regards to the defense budget."
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