Strategic Choices

Each of the four military services will build two budgets for Fiscal 2015 through Fiscal 2019—one at President Obama’s budget level and the second reflecting continued sequestration levels, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday in outlining the findings of the Defense Department’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. “The review concluded we should not take reductions proportionally across the military services. Instead, the options we examined were informed by strategy,” he said. Specifically, the analysis found that DOD can “strategically reduce” the size of ground forces and tactical air forces “even beyond the current drawdown” with “minimal risk,” he said. For the Air Force, that could mean as many as five Tacair squadrons and a further reduction of the C-130 fleet, said Hagel. The Army, however, will take the biggest hit. Under its current force structure plan, the Army is expected to field a force of 490,000 Active Duty soldiers and 555,000 in its reserve components. One option considered in the review, however, dropped those numbers to as low as 420,000 Active Duty soldiers and 490,000 in the reserves, he said. “I have not made any program or force structure decisions, and more analysis will be required before these decisions are made,” said Hagel. (Hagel statement and Hagel-Winnefeld transcript)