Trimming from the Top: Hagel Announces Staff Reductions in His Own Office

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens to a speaker before testifying on Syria to the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013.
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
Add to Briefcase
Sara Sorcher
Dec. 4, 2013, 9:51 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel donned his oth­er hat as the Pentagon’s downs­izer-in-chief on Wed­nes­day, an­noun­cing his latest ef­forts to cut spend­ing and per­son­nel— this time, in his own of­fice.

“With the Pentagon con­front­ing his­tor­ic­ally steep and ab­rupt spend­ing re­duc­tions after a dec­ade of sig­ni­fic­ant budget growth,” Hagel said at a press con­fer­ence, “there is a clear need, and an op­por­tun­ity, and I em­phas­ize op­por­tun­ity, to pare back over­head and stream­line headquar­ters across the De­part­ment.” 

About 2,400 mil­it­ary and ci­vil­ian per­son­nel work on Hagel’s staff, in the Of­fice of the Sec­ret­ary of De­fense; by fisc­al year 2019, that num­ber will drop to less than 2,200 per­son­nel. The re­duc­tions are ex­pec­ted to save about $1 bil­lion.

Con­sid­er­ing the scale of cuts the Pentagon is fa­cing — some $37 bil­lion this year, and po­ten­tially a total of $500 bil­lion if the across-the-board cuts known as se­quest­ra­tion re­main on the books in the com­ing years ““ the cut­backs ap­pear neg­li­gible. However, the fact that the De­fense sec­ret­ary is per­son­ally tak­ing steps to re­shape elite branches with­in the Pentagon’s labyrinth bur­eau­cracy is not­able, even in this era of fisc­al aus­ter­ity. These re­duc­tions are only a “first step,” Hagel stressed, in the de­part­ment’s ef­forts to “re­align de­fense spend­ing to meet new fisc­al real­it­ies and stra­tegic pri­or­it­ies.”

The dir­ect­ive comes on the heels of Hagel’s or­der this sum­mer that the Pentagon’s top brass plan for a 20 per­cent cut in their op­er­at­ing budgets— not just with­in his own of­fice, but in the Joint Staff and Pentagon headquar­ters staff of each of the four armed ser­vices. Hagel on Wed­nes­day an­nounced his of­fice will see wide­spread re­or­gan­iz­a­tion span­ning not just staff but mis­sion. The Pentagon’s policy shop, for in­stance, will elim­in­ate some seni­or po­s­i­tions but pri­or­it­ize op­er­a­tions in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, and space and cy­ber cap­ab­il­it­ies. The of­fice of Per­son­nel and Read­i­ness will “sharpen” its fo­cus on force man­age­ment and read­i­ness, mil­it­ary health care, com­pens­a­tion and re­tire­ment re­form, as the de­fense in­tel­li­gence of­fice plans how its mis­sion and fo­cus will evolve now that the era dom­in­ated by wars in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan is com­ing to a close. “All these de­cisions will not only res­ult in a smal­ler and flat­ter OSD, but one that I be­lieve will be bet­ter pre­pared for the ser­i­ous and com­plex 21st cen­tury se­cur­ity chal­lenges that we face as a De­part­ment and as a na­tion,” Hagel said.

With no deal to avert se­quest­ra­tion yet, Hagel is can­did about the tea leaves for his de­part­ment’s budget woes — many of which, such as mil­it­ary re­tire­ment be­ne­fits and base clos­ures — are po­ten­tial polit­ic­al land­mines on Cap­it­ol Hill. “Dif­fi­cult but ne­ces­sary choices re­main ahead for the De­part­ment on com­pens­a­tion re­form, force struc­ture, ac­quis­i­tions and oth­er ma­jor parts of DoD,” he said. “These choices will be much more dif­fi­cult if Con­gress fails to halt se­quest­ra­tion and fully fund the Pres­id­ent’s budget re­quest.”

What We're Following See More »
THE PLAN ALL ALONG?
Manchin Drops Objections, Clearing Way for Spending Deal
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."

Source:
UNCLEAR WHAT CAUSED CHANGE OF HEART
Giuliani Out of Running For State
18 hours ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.

Source:
ALSO VICE-CHAIR OF TRUMP’S TRANSITION TEAM
Trump Taps Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior Secretary
23 hours ago
BREAKING
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
1 days ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
1 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login