'Challenging Every Assumption' at the Pentagon

Issue Brief
Monday, November 18, 2013

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the military is “challenging every past assumption, every past formula” in trying to reorganize itself for 21st century challenges in the face of a rapidly tightening budget.

Uncertainties about sequestration and the Fiscal 2014 budget in general are complicating that work.

In January a new round of sequester cuts is scheduled to reduce the military’s budget cap by $21 billion. The Pentagon faces nearly $1 trillion in overall spending cuts over the next decade due to the budget caps and sequestration put in place by the Budget Control Act.

Military health and pension costs continue to grow at an unsustainable pace, consuming half of the Pentagon’s budget. But Congress has been reluctant to make even modest changes requested by the Pentagon and the administration to reduce these costs.

Hagel recently warned that current policy would lead to an “unbalanced” force, one that is “well-compensated, but poorly trained and equipped, with limited readiness and capability.” He urged Congress to “permit meaningful reforms.”

External links:U.S. Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits (Wall Street Journal)Hagel Keynote Speech (CSIS)Ways to Reduce Spending on Defense Health System (CBO)