Secretary Plans 20 Percent Cut to Top Brass

NGAUS Washington Report

(July 23, 2013) Funding for the top Defense Department staffs will be cut by 20 percent as Pentagon officials work to craft a strategy-based spending plan that accounts for likely future spending cuts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week.

Hagel said the cuts will take effect for his office and those of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs from 2015 to 2019. George Little, the Pentagon press spokesman, said in a written statement that total savings could reach $2 billion.

“Secretary Hagel's announcement is based on the work of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, which scrutinized the department's spending priorities and determined that these headquarters reductions should be pursued now, regardless of future fiscal circumstances,” Little said. “These cuts will be implemented even if Congress lifts sequester-level budget caps."

News reports of Hagel’s plan estimate 3,000 to 5,000 positions could be lost. The Defense Department counts about 2.1 million workers on its roster, but making the cuts at the top is significant.

“This isn’t going to fix the problem,” Hagel admitted.

In meetings with service members and civilians throughout his travels last week, the secretary stressed that defense leaders are planning for the full range of sequester cuts that could total $500 billion in defense spending reductions over a decade.