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Secretary Hagel's Speech on FY15 Defense Budget

Speaker: Charles Hagel
Published February 24, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave this speech on February 24, 2014. He discussed fiscal context, force structure and modernization, military compensation, and risks from these decisions.

Excerpt:

DoD's Approach

Before we recommended any changes to the military's size or capabilities, we first focused on implementing management reforms and reducing DoD's overhead and operating costs.

Last summer I announced a 20 percent cut in DoD's major headquarters operating budgets, which is expected to save about $5 billion in operating costs over the next five years. These efforts began in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the Joint Staff, but they will also include Service and Combatant Command headquarters. We are paring back contract spending, making targeted cuts in civilian personnel, improving the quality of financial information and taking other steps to become more efficient – in addition to continuing to implement the more than $200 billion in overhead cuts DoD has submitted in the last three budget proposals.

We cannot fully achieve our goals for overhead reductions without cutting unnecessary and costly infrastructure. For that reason, DoD will ask Congress for another round of Base Realignment[and] Closure (BRAC) in 2017. I am mindful that Congress has not agreed to [our] BRAC requests of the last two years. But if Congress continues to block these requests even as they slash the overall budget, we will have to consider every tool at our disposal to reduce infrastructure. DoD has already been reducing infrastructure where we can. In Europe, where BRAC authority is not needed, we have reduced our infrastructure by 30 percent since 2000, and a European Infrastructure Consolidation Review this spring will recommend further cuts which DoD will pursue.

Reducing overhead will continue to be important, but the potential savings will not by themselves enough to meet targets under either the President's budget or sequestration levels. To meet reductions of the scale required, we had to carefully examine the military's force structure.

Force Structure and Modernization Decisions

Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities:

  • First, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations;
  • Second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries;
  • Third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail.

Accordingly, our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force – putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries. We also preserved all three legs of the nuclear triad and will make important investments to preserve a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear force.

The forces we prioritized can project power over great distances and carry out a variety of missions more relevant to the President's defense strategy, such as homeland defense, strategic deterrence, building partnership capacity, and defeating asymmetric threats. They are also well-suited to the strategy's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, to sustaining security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and our engagement in other regions.

Our recommendations seek to protect capabilities uniquely suited to the most likely missions of the future, most notably special operations forces used for counterterrorism and crisis response. Accordingly, our special operations forces will grow to 69,700 personnel from roughly 66,000 today.

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