Pentagon Waits Out Shutdown While Sequestration Looms

Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
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 »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
4 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×