Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech
April 3rd, 2013
06:40 PM ET

Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower Wednesday, telling rising military officers "the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill."

In his first major policy speech since taking over the Pentagon, Hagel focused on the budget problems facing the Defense Department and the rest of the government.

"A combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester - which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year," Hagel said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.

He warned that much of the burden of that fiscal pressure will fall on defense employees.

"Fiscal realities demand another hard look at personnel - how many people we have (military and civilian), how many we need; what these people do, and how we compensate them for their work, service, and loyalty with pay, benefits and health care," Hagel said.

The secretary warned that furloughs could have an impact in the Pentagon.

"Across-the-board reductions of the size we are looking at will demand that we furlough civilian personnel, which could affect morale and may impact productivity."

But Hagel said the answer is not, as is often proposed, running the Defense Department like a business. "The military is not, and should never be, run like a corporation. But that does not mean we don't have a good deal to learn from what the private sector has achieved over the past 20 to 30 years."

Hagel is concerned about the growing percentage of the department's budget that goes toward troop and employee pay and health care. "DoD could transform from 'an agency protecting the nation to an agency administering benefit programs.'"

Budgets weren't the only topics Hagel discussed.

The secretary told the audience he had a long conversation with China's new defense minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan.

"I think we can continue to build a strong relationship with China, with our differences. And there are significant differences. But there are too many common interests for both our countries. ... I think the Chinese have shown their leadership to be steady, wise, careful," Hagel said.

He also discussed threats posed by North Korea.

"They have nuclear capacity now. They have missile delivery capacity now. And so as they have ratcheted up her bellicose, dangerous rhetoric - and some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan; and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened to the West Coast of the United States," Hagel said.

"As secretary of defense, and I think beginning with the president of the United States, and all of our leaders, we take those threats seriously," said Hagel.

In spite of the concern about fiscal issues, Hagel reminded officers in the audience that the Defense Department's main goal remains protecting the country.

"The goal of the senior leadership of this department today is to learn from the miscalculations and mistakes of the past drawdowns, and make the right decisions that will sustain our military strength, advance our strategic interests and protect our nation well into the future."

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Filed under: Budget • China • Hagel • Japan • Military • Military life • Missile launch • North Korea • Secretary of Defense • Security Brief • South Korea
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. NNN

    "Fiscal realities demand another hard look at personnel – how many people we have (military and civilian), how many we need; what these people do, and how we compensate them for their work, service, and loyalty with pay, benefits and health care," DoD has the better part of 100,000 employees in their fake RDT&E centers and labs, collecting six figure salaries for doing next to nothing, a very low quality workforce of little to no value, and considered a laughingstock by industry.

    April 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  2. StillKillingEm

    I trust Hagel and believe he's on board with Eisenhower's 1959 warning on the MIC. As for the budget, every government department should take a fresh zero-based look at their expenses, i.e., act as if they're starting from scratch with nothing and determining from there what they really need going forward. It's a whole different way of looking at a budget and can yield very different and more positive results.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  3. Joe

    They really need to take a long hard look at the civilians and higher ranking officers, their pay has gotten out of control! Paying a secretary 6-figures to answer phones, and keep a calendar is insanity with our money!

    April 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  4. shanelathams

    This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read,indeed.Shane Latham

    April 4, 2013 at 4:35 am | Reply
  5. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015. ha ha ha

    April 4, 2013 at 4:04 am | Reply
  6. helenecha

    Glad to see the picture. Anyway, it is unreliable that a chef usually takes the risks of being getting increasingly poor unless he is not just a philanthropist.

    April 4, 2013 at 1:05 am | Reply
  7. George Patton-2

    He(Chuck Hagel) needs to quote Pres. Eisenhower's speech on the dangers of the growing M.I.C. that he made back in 1959. Today, the M.I.C. owns both the White House and at least 90% of Congress!!! This is not right and is why we're constantly at war!

    April 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Reply
    • evilroyslade

      I agree 100% but when your policies are messing with the world you need to carry a big stick.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply

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