Pentagon Warns of Severe Budget Constraints

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Last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a four-month Pentagon review that said the budget sequester cuts would jeopardize some areas of military strategy. Under sequester-level spending reductions, he said, “our military options and flexibility will be severely constrained.”

The Strategic Choices and Management Review scrutinized every aspect of the military budget and suggested possible alternative spending reductions. But the review said defense officials could find no strategically or managerially sound approach to make the cuts that could meet the sharp annual spending reductions required by the sequester.

Hagel said that roughly half of the defense budget — including areas like veterans’ compensation and critical missions — is off-limits to quick reductions, requiring military leaders to make cuts elsewhere that would “damage military readiness, disrupt operations, and erode our technological edge.”

The Pentagon has already implemented $37 billion in cuts this year due to the sequester. If Congress does not replace or lift the sequester, defense spending will be cut by $52.1 billion next year, which the Department of Defense says will mean more furloughs and layoffs.

Defense spending is scheduled for nearly $500 billion in reductions over the next 10 years if the sequester remains in place. Together with other planned cuts, this would reduce planned defense spending by nearly $1 trillion.

External links:
Hagel Statement on Strategic Choices and Management Review
How Eliminating the Automatic Spending Reductions in Budget Control Act Would Affect U.S. Economy in 2014 (CBO)

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