Hagel warns of more uncertainty after budget deal
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
October 17th, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Hagel warns of more uncertainty after budget deal

By Jamie Crawford

The head of the largest U.S. government employer says there is still a long way to go to remove uncertainty for federal employees despite the end of the government shutdown.

"People have to have some confidence that they have a job that they can rely on," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. "We can't continue to do this to our people, having them live under this cloud of uncertainty."

With a $680 billion budget, the Pentagon has the highest payroll of any federal agency as it supports 7.4 million active duty forces and 718,000 civilian workers.

Hagel said the civilian defense workforce was hit hardest during the 16-day shutdown that ended on Thursday.

The Pentagon estimated at minimum a $600 million loss of productivity due to the furlough of about 400,000 civilian workers during the first four days of the shutdown before Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to bring some of them back in.

And with only a temporary reprieve before another budget and debt ceiling deadline early next year, Hagel did not strike an optimistic tone about the long-term prospects toward a more stable fiscal environment.

"I don't know if a compromise can be reached, if some kind of an agreement can be reached to deal with these issues," Hagel, a former Republican Senator from Nebraska, said. "That's part of the uncertainty."

The recent impasse has also shaken confidence in the United States on the international stage, Hagel said.

He noted several people asked him on a recent trip to Asia whether the country would be able to keep its commitments.

Added to the concern over the size of future budget packages, the looming threat of another round of forced spending cuts in January, known as sequestration, is also likely to have an effect on both the size and readiness of the country's defense capabilities.

Hagel told reporters that the current round of sequestration, which took effect last March and requires $1 trillion in domestic and defense cuts by 2021 - has already led to a reduction in some training and long term investments in equipment.

"That adds to impact on our readiness, and, sure, that eventually will present capability issues for us," Hagel said.

Robert Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, told reporters at the same press conference, there would consequences all across the Pentagon if another round of sequestration goes forward.

"We are going to get smaller," he said. "I just can't tell you how much."

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Filed under: Defense Spending • Hagel • Military • Sequestration
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Steve Neau

    I love the fact that federal employees expect "certainty" with their jobs. While I agree with it for any active duty service person, no job comes with certainty. Unless all members of the federal government want to work of $17/hr. I think we can afford that and they all have to sign up for Obamacare. The janitors will be happy and the Generals and congressmen will not. Meanwhile, it sounds like some of the admirals have been lining their own pockets. The government needs to get its house in order first. Jail some, fire others, and make examples of those the break the rules and commit treason by passing classified information and manipulating budgets.

    November 10, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
  2. Tigas

    The interest on $17 Trillion is more than enough to ensure China's growth and Prosperity!

    October 19, 2013 at 5:59 am | Reply
    • Josh

      China only owns around $1 Trillion of our $17 Trillion dollar debt. The people who own the most is us, the citizens of the United States.

      $5 Trillion of the $11 Trillion is owed to Social Security because it was "borrowed" from, makes it interesting how some want to get rid of the program. Get rid of the program and our debt miraculously drops $5 Trillion dollars and millions of Americans are left high and dry.

      October 25, 2013 at 10:09 am | Reply
  3. bill

    You should step down and you did not standup for our fallen .....

    October 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      So tell me please, just what did our "fallen" fall for? Dick didn't get any cheap oil, the Iraqis didn't get a peaceful society.
      I am a Vietnam vet, we got no love when we came home!
      No one even talks about Vietnam anymore, hopefully we will get out of Iraq and leave the Iraqis to their fate! They certainly gained nothing from us blowing up their country, they just go back to their heritage of killing each other.
      By the way, Vietnam is doing very well today. Are they killing each other like the Iraqis? No, they are exporting goods to you and me here in the US!

      October 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  4. buongirno

    handsome gentleman he is

    October 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  5. cs

    7.4 million active forces?? That is not correct. Its more like 1.4 million. Check your facts.

    October 18, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • i6465490170@aol.com

      Yup they got it way wrong. 1.4 Million on active duty and about 1.1Million in the reserves, which equals to around 3.4 million. CNN just doubled our forces without the DOD knowing. hahaha

      October 19, 2013 at 2:06 am | Reply
  6. George patton

    If this country ever hopes to see prosperity again, the Pentagon budget sorely needs to be cut. We don't need troops in either Germany, South Korea or J apan. Furthermore, we don't need to use our navy to patrol the Indian Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea. India, Iran, South Africa and Australia all have their own navies as well as our crony NATO allies!!! $680B for the Pentagon is far too much as that money would be better spent on medical research, schools, police and fire departments and our infrastructure!!!

    October 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • markodavid

      YOU got it right!

      October 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • john/kc

      We need to close hundreds of overseas military bases that the US taxpayer pays for. We cannot afford being the policeman of the world.

      October 19, 2013 at 1:24 am | Reply
    • Salty Bob

      I would agree with you if it were not for history that shows, History is written by the victors. I would not believe for a moment that this country can not fall, and our future depends greatly on whether we are willing to prepare for the unforeseen the unknown our enemies will use to write our history.

      October 28, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
  7. Portland tony

    Budget cuts always save money in the short term and there're those who just want to gut the government to make it small like the days of their fathers and are happy until their little Gerrymandered gated community gets hit by a "Sandy", a forest fire or god forbid an enemy's missile. Then they ask Where's my Government? But still will swear that smaller is better! While countries like China are spending vast sums launching their own space stations, planning missions to mars etc, developing their own manufacturing facilities, funding a modern infrastructure and investing billions in technologies that in decades will revolutionize the world in electronics, medicine and perhaps weaponry. All the while, the US, led by a parochial government, is floundering, ignoring important infrastructure improvements, making meaningful education astronomically expensive, playing lotto with citizen's healthcare and worst of all turning corporations into political beings as well as allowing the super rich to sponsor candidates for office to do their bidding. This nation is becoming a plutocracy where nothing matters except money. Etc...etc...etc ....

    October 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  8. World Chaos News

    Reblogged this on World Chaos News.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  9. gggffffffffhhhhhhh

    comment #1 a robot script.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  10. gggffffffffhhhhhhh

    comment #2 is a robot script reprogramed.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Reply
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    bla bla bla bla bla bla bla...Iran...bla bla bla bla bla bla bla.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  12. TRYERTY345234GF

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    October 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply

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