Chuck Hagel Cuts Defense Budget


chuck hagelAlthough it may be more symbolic than substantive, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has ordered a 20 percent cut in the top brass and highest paid civilians in the military.  The Pentagon budget has grown with virtually no restriction; now Chuck Hagel is making his first attempt to cut defense spending.

Hagel is ordering the elimination of 3,000 to 5,000 jobs by 2019.  That may seem like a small number, compared to the present 2.1 million military personnel, and civilian employees employed by the Department of Defense, but it is the first cut to the military’s budget in decades.

“It’s all relative for a bureaucracy that has hardly been touched by a human hand over the past decade,” said Arnold L. Punaro, a retired Marine general and member of the Defense Business Board, which advises the Pentagon on financial matters. “But a 20 percent cut is pretty dramatic.”

Hagel was speaking at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.  He said the area of cuts would be the office of the Secretary of Defense, the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Pentagon.  He did not further elaborate.

Hagel also talked about Congress’s failure to stop the Sequestration, which required a 37 billion dollar cut in defense spending.  He acknowledged that these cuts would be a small part, and that others were necessary.  He told the troops that “everyone will have to do their part.”

The cuts will not begin until 2015.

Since September 11, 2001, defense spending has skyrocketed.  History shows us that when the military’s budget is increased, it becomes nearly impossible to reduce the numbers.  The dollar amount of Hagel’s measure is minimal, but the symbolism gives promise of more waste to be eliminated in the DOD budget.

Although Hagel’s words offer promise, past pledges by a Secretary of Defense never materialized.

In 2010 Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a freeze on staffing in his office, the Joint Chiefs, and military combatant commands.  That never happened.  In fact, reports show that those positions were actually increased by 15 percent.

Gates had also ordered the elimination of 6,000 jobs with the closure of the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command.  Again, reports show that most of those jobs were redistributed within the military.

Alfred James reporting


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