Hagel Backs Budget Deal

The Defense secretary said even with the agreement, the department faces fiscal challenges.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel responds to a question from a reporter at the Pentagon, September 18, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 12, 2013, 6:26 a.m.

With the House near­ing a vote on the budget deal, De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel threw his sup­port be­hind the agree­ment on Thursday.

While ac­know­ledging that the deal in­tro­duced on Tues­day by House Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., and Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray, D-Wash., doesn’t com­pletely solve the de­part­ment’s fisc­al prob­lems, he said, “It will help ad­dress our mil­it­ary read­i­ness chal­lenge by restor­ing fund­ing for train­ing and pro­cure­ment,” es­pe­cially in the cur­rent fisc­al year.

Pentagon of­fi­cials have re­peatedly warned about the im­pact of budget cuts on the mil­it­ary’s size and read­i­ness. And Hagel noted that even with the pro­posed budget, the de­part­ment will still have to tackle the chal­lenge of find­ing the “right bal­ance” on those two, as well as on the mil­it­ary’s cap­ab­il­it­ies.

Hagel isn’t the first high-rank­ing De­fense of­fi­cial to back the budget agree­ment. Army Gen. Mar­tin De­mp­sey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the As­so­ci­ated Press he sup­ports it, adding that he hopes it serves as the “be­gin­ning of a con­ver­sa­tion” on chal­lenges the de­part­ment faces.

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