Hagel listed politically-charged changes to compensation and personnel policy as one of his top six priorities in reforming the military following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the department gears up to meet new challenges.
In his 35-minute speech , Hagel said his strategic vision for the department's future constantly had to be balanced against the uncertainty of funding. The overall goal, given the political gridlock in Congress, involved a tradeoff on shrinking the size of the military to maintain investments in new weapons and cyberwarfare capabilities, Hagel said.
"Destructive technologies and weapons that were once the province of advanced militaries are being sought by non-state actors and other nations," Hagel said. "This will require our continued investment in cutting-edge defensive space and cyber technologies, and capabilities like missile defense, as well as offensive technologies and capabilities to deter aggressors and respond if we must.".
The degree of difficulty in the task increased exponentially under the budget cuts, Hagel said. The Defense Department is "currently facing sequester-level cuts on the order of $500 billion over 10 years. This is in addition to the ten-year, $487 billion reduction in DoD's budget that is already underway."
"These cuts are too fast, too much, too abrupt, and too irresponsible," Hagel said. "DoD took a $37 billion sequester cut during the past fiscal year, and we could be forced to absorb a $52 billion sequester cut this fiscal year."
Yet, Hagel said he remained committed to his six priorities "for our budget and strategic planning efforts going forward" -- institutional reform, force planning, readiness, investments in emerging capabilities, balancing capacity and capability, and balancing personnel responsibilities with a sustainable compensation policy.
Hagel also echoed the themes of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who reached a consensus on foreign policy that combined the soft power of diplomacy and development with the hard power of the military to achieve what they termed "smart power." Hagel said.
How's that smart power working out for us?
It's a travesty that those we're sending into harm's way over and over again should, upon arriving home or even before, be targeted for pay and benefit cuts. A travesty made all the more egregious when one thinks of the litany of wasteful government programs geared less toward helping anyone and more toward empowering those who dream the programs into existence. Hello Obamacare.
I'm sickened by this news. You should be as well.
What in hell is happening to this country?