Strategic Review Examined Three Budget Scenarios

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday outlined three budget scenarios considered under the Pentagon’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. The first dealt with a “carefully calibrated and largely back-loaded $150 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years,” said Hagel. The second scenario considered the 2011 Budget Control Act’s sequestration caps, which would cut an additional $52 billion from the Pentagon’s budget in Fiscal 2014 and a total of $500 billion between Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2021. Finally, the “in-between” scenario was also “largely back-loaded,” but reduced defense spending only by $250 billion during the same 10-year period, said Hagel. The cuts in all three examples were in addition to the $487 billion reduction that the Defense Department is already absorbing under the BCA. “The review showed that the ‘in-between’ budget scenario we evaluated would ‘bend’ our defense strategy in important ways, and sequester-level cuts would ‘break’ some parts of the strategy no matter how the cuts were made,” said Hagel. “Under sequester-level cuts, our military options and flexibility will be severely constrained,” he said. The efficiencies identified in the review to cut DOD’s costs did not come close to meeting the sequester’s mandated spending reductions, said Hagel. “Even the most aggressive changes still leave DOD some $350 [billion] to $400 billion short of the $500 billion in cuts required by sequestration,” he said during the July 31 briefing. (Hagel statement and Hagel-Winnefeld transcript)