Pentagon Waits Out Shutdown While Sequestration Looms

Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Oct. 3, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel is trav­el­ing in Asia, far from the dys­func­tion of Wash­ing­ton where Con­gress has once again hi­jacked his abil­ity to plan his budget. First there was se­quest­ra­tion, now there’s a gov­ern­ment shut­down and, in a mat­ter of months, an­oth­er fight over se­quest­ra­tion and this year’s budget.

“The Pentagon … has no budget. We are still liv­ing un­der this dark cloud of un­cer­tainty not know­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen. This re­flects on our mis­sions around the world. It re­flects our al­lies’ ques­tion­ing our com­mit­ments. It af­fects our plan­ning as we are in the pro­cess, as you know, of pre­par­ing a 2015 budget as we are pre­par­ing for fur­ther sig­ni­fic­ant cuts un­der the cur­rent law, Budget Con­trol Act 2011, which means $52 bil­lion in ad­di­tion­al cuts,” Hagel said dur­ing a stop in Seoul, South Korea.

Hagel has been talk­ing to Deputy Sec­ret­ary Ash Carter, Comp­troller Bob Hale and act­ing Gen­er­al Coun­sel Bob Taylor to find a way to mit­ig­ate the pain of the shut­down, namely how to ex­empt more ci­vil­ian work­ers from fur­loughs. He said na­tion­al se­cur­ity is not at risk, but “when you take that num­ber of ci­vil­ian em­ploy­ees out of the mix of every day plan­ning and work­ing — and they all work with these kinds of things — you’re go­ing to im­pact read­i­ness. You’re go­ing to im­pact a mis­sion. There’s no point in kid­ding about that.”

Pentagon lead­ers are strug­gling to match their stra­tegic goals — wind­ing down the war in Afgh­anistan, re­bal­an­cing to Asia while keep­ing an eye on the Middle East, be­com­ing a lean­er mil­it­ary — without know­ing what budget con­di­tions they’re op­er­at­ing un­der.

“It would be nice to say we do a strategy and then we de­rive a budget. And in good times, in nor­mal times, we’re a lot closer to that,” Hale said in a re­cent in­ter­view with De­fense One. “So I think it would be disin­genu­ous to say that we aren’t — there are budget-driv­en de­cisions that are hap­pen­ing right now. We are try­ing to keep in mind the strategy in every way that we can, but we have meet some of the leg­ally bind­ing budget tar­gets.”

Hagel, a former sen­at­or who joined Con­gress in 1997 just after the last gov­ern­ment shut­down, said he’s frus­trated by the grid­lock in Con­gress.

“I do worry,” he said, “about the es­sence of gov­ern­ing in a demo­cracy and that we’ve seemed to lose, and that is con­sensus and com­prom­ise. No demo­cracy can gov­ern it­self without con­sensus and com­prom­ise. It is im­possible. And we seem to have lost that. We have seemed to have lost our way in that be­ing an ob­ject­ive of gov­ern­ing.”

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from De­fense One. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

What We're Following See More »
STARTS LEGAL FUND FOR WH STAFF
Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
23 hours ago
THE DETAILS
DISCUSSED THE MATTER FOR A NEW BOOK
Steele Says Follow the Money
1 days ago
STAFF PICKS

"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."

Source:
BRITISH PUBLICIST CONNECTED TO TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Goldstone Ready to Meet with Mueller’s Team
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."

Source:
SPEAKING ON RUSSIAN STATE TV
Kislyak Says Trump Campaign Contacts Too Numerous to List
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."

Source:
“BLOWING A SURE THING”
Sabato Moves Alabama to “Lean Democrat”
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE
×
×

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