Hagel: Proposed Defense
Budget Tailored to Meet Future Threats
By Nick Simeone, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– June 18, 2014 – After more than a decade of large, land-based operations
driven by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proposed Defense Department
budget for the coming fiscal year focuses on new and emerging threats, including
those in cyberspace, with the department proposing significant reductions in the
size of the Army and Marines, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate panel
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel before the Senate Appropriations
Committee’s defense subcommittee
“After 13 years of long, large stability operations, we must shift our focus
onto future requirements shaped by enduring and emerging threats,” Hagel told
the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, largely
recapitulating the main points contained in the proposed Pentagon budget first
unveiled in February.
“We must be able to defeat terrorist threats and cyberattacks and deter
adversaries with increasingly modern weapons and technological capabilities,”
Even so, Hagel said, the department is taking a $75 billion hit in its budget
this year and next, and he warned lawmakers “we cannot keep our current force
structure adequately ready and modernized” under the strict budget limits being
imposed on the department. And unless Congress changes the law to prevent
another budget sequester, he added, another $50 billion will come out of the
department’s budget every year through 2021.
This, he said, could occur at a time when America’s and the world’s and
security are increasingly being challenged. “Recent crises in Iraq and Ukraine
remind us how quickly things can change in the world and they underscore why we
must assure the readiness, agility and capability of our military,” the
secretary told the senators.
Even so, as outlined in the president’s budget request sent to Congress
earlier this year, Hagel said the department still proposes drawing down the
active duty Army by 13 percent over the next five years to as low 440,000
soldiers, which he said he believes is still adequate to defend the nation and
respond to future threats.
The Marine Corps, he said, will continue its planned drawdown to 182,000
members while devoting an additional 900 Marines to stepping up security at U.S.
embassies around the world.
The Navy will have 11 carrier strike groups, but 11 cruisers will be set
aside for modernization and retrofitting, while the Air Force will see the
50-year-old U-2 surveillance plane replaced by the unmanned Global Hawk aircraft,
as well as an end to the aging A-10 attack aircraft.
Compensation for those in uniform is being adjusted, Hagel said, with the
department slowing the growth in pay increases, while subsidies for off-base
housing will be reduced as well. Co-pays for retirees and family members under
the TRICARE health care plan will face modest increases, but health care for
active duty personnel will remain free, the secretary told the panel, adding
that the adjustments are tied to resourcing readiness. “Under our plan, 100
percent of the savings from compensation reform will go toward ensuring that our
troops have the training and tools they need to accomplish their missions,” he
But Hagel warned that if Congress does not provide the department the money
it needs, “it will jeopardize the readiness and capability of our armed forces
and shortchange America’s ability to effectively and decisively respond when
global events demand it.”
Today’s hearing comes midway through a congressional calendar that is not
likely to see final action on a Pentagon budget for months.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneAFPS) :
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