Hagel Outlines Strategic Priorities

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined six priorities for the Defense Department as it looks toward a new era of dwindling budgets. They include, institutional reform, re-evaluating military force structure, prolonging military readiness, protecting investments in emerging technologies, balancing capabilities and capacity, and implementing a sustainable compensation policy. “Contingency scenarios drive force structure decisions—not the other way around,” stressed Hagel during his Nov. 5 keynote address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Security Forum in Washington, D.C. Hagel said DOD must ensure that no US service member ever deploys unprepared. However, he acknowledged that recent budget cuts already have damaged readiness as “training has been curtailed, flying hours reduced, ships not steamed, and exercises…canceled.” He said DOD must protect capabilities, such as space, cyber, special operations, and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance. America’s freedom of access must also be protected, he noted. His sixth priority, compensation reform, may be the most difficult, he said. However, “Without serious attempts to achieve significant savings in this area, which consumes roughly now half of the DOD budget,…we risk becoming an unbalanced force—one that is well-compensated but poorly trained and equipped,” Hagel warned. (AFPS report) (Hagel transcript).