Hagel, Dempsey Defend Budget Proposal

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, told Senate defense appropriators on June 18 that the Pentagon crafted the $495.6 billion defense budget request for Fiscal 2015 to meet future threats, as the US war in Afghanistan winds down. “After 13 years of long, large stability operations, we must shift our focus onto future requirements shaped by enduring and emerging threats,” said Hagel. Addressing the limitations of budget sequestration, Hagel said the primary concern for Fiscal 2015 is maintaining readiness. In that vein, Dempsey said: “We have personnel costs that have grown at a disproportionate rate and we ought to be able to make modest adjustments that will make the all-volunteer force more affordable and sustainable over time.” The Fiscal 2015 budget request for overseas contingency operations, including the war in Afghanistan, “is being finalized now,” Hagel told the lawmakers. “I know it’s late,” he said. He said he expects the actual proposal to be “substantially smaller” than the $79.4 billion placeholder figure defense officials provided to Congress back in March. (Hagel’s prepared statement) (Dempsey’s written testimony)