United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

Defense Secretary Hagel's Message

March 4, 2014
March 4, 2014
March 4, 2014

Statement on the Release of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review


Today the president released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request for the Department of Defense. This defense budget contains the recommendations I announced last week and is responsible, balanced and realistic. It matches our strategy to our resources.

This budget also supports - and is informed by - our updated defense strategy outlined in the recently completed 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which is also being released today. This QDR defines the historic transition unfolding throughout our defense enterprise. As we move off the longest continuous war footing in our nation's history, this QDR explains how we will adapt, reshape, and rebalance our military for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The QDR prioritizes America's highest security interests by focusing on three strategic pillars: defending the homeland against all threats; building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression; and remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary should deterrence fail.

The QDR outlines key missions of our strategy - including the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, sustaining our security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and building partnership capacity throughout the world.

The QDR highlights the critical capabilities - enduring and emerging - the military will need to operate across the full spectrum of conflict - including special operations, space, cyber, missile defense as well as certain conventional, high-intensity capabilities we should emphasize in today's fast moving security environment. It also recognizes the emerging technological capabilities of adversaries that will present new threats and challenges to the United States.

This year's QDR also considers resource constraints. These continued fiscal constraints cannot be ignored. It would be dishonest and irresponsible to present a QDR articulating a strategy disconnected from the reality of resource constraints. A strategy must have the resources for its implementation.

Today's world requires a strategy that is neither budget driven nor budget blind. We need a strategy that can be implemented with a realistic level of resources, and that is what this QDR provides.

This QDR clearly articulates the consequences - and risks - of budgetary constraints. In particular, it shows that sequestration-level cuts would result in unacceptable risks to our national security if they are re-imposed in Fiscal Year 2016, as is currently the law. The QDR shows that continued sequestration requires dangerous reductions to readiness and modernization. It would mean that DoD would be unable to fulfill its defense strategy, and it would put at risk America's traditional role as a guarantor of global security.

That's why the president's budget plan adds $115 billion above sequestration levels. These additional resources will be required to meet the president's defense strategy, although we will still be assuming higher risk for certain military missions because of continued fiscal constraints. It would have been irresponsible not to request these additional resources.

No strategy or budget is risk-free. Even the largest defense budgets have limits - as does our knowledge and ability to predict the future. But the strategy articulated by the QDR is one that department leaders and I believe is the right strategy given the reality we face.

There are difficult decisions ahead, but there are also opportunities. We have an opportunity to reshape our defense enterprise to be better prepared, positioned, and equipped to secure America's interests in the years ahead.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

February 25, 2014
February 25, 2014

Statement on Afghanistan


At President Obama's direction, and with my strong support, the Department of Defense will move ahead with additional contingency planning to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

This is a prudent step given that President Karzai has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would provide DoD personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014. I appreciate the efforts of General Dunford and our military leaders to provide flexibility to the President as we work to determine the future of our presence in Afghanistan.

As the United States military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO. And during this time DoD will still continue planning for U.S. participation in a NATO-led mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces, as well as a narrowly focused counterterrorism mission.

The United States will consult closely with NATO Allies and ISAF Partners in the months ahead, and I look forward to discussing our planning with NATO and ISAF defense ministers in Brussels this week.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

January 28, 2014
January 28, 2014

Message to the Crew of the M/V Cape Ray


To Captain Jordan and the crew of the MV Cape Ray:

All of America wishes you well as you prepare to depart on your historic mission.

You are about to accomplish something no one has tried. You will be destroying, at sea, one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and helping make a safer world.

As you all know, your task will not be easy. Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.

You are ready. We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you.

On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God Bless you all.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014

Chuck Hagel on President Obama's Speech


I fully support the reforms to signals intelligence programs that President Obama outlined today - not only as Secretary of Defense, but as former co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

These programs must always balance the need to defend our national security with the responsibility to preserve America's individual liberties, and the President's decisions and recommendations will do that. They will help restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners. They will preserve important capabilities that keep us safe. And they will help the men and women of America's military continue to accomplish their missions all over the world.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

December 20, 2013
December 20, 2013

Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response


Eliminating sexual assault in the military is one of the Department of Defense's highest priorities. We welcome President Obama's continued leadership on this issue, and we share his commitment to doing whatever it takes to solve this problem. All of us at DoD have a responsibility for the health and well-being of our people, and, as I have made clear to DoD's senior leaders, our success depends on a dynamic and responsive approach to all issues that affect our men and women, particularly sexual assault. We must continually strive to improve our prevention and response programs.

We will work to build upon the significant progress we've made this past year. In April, I called on Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and I'm pleased that this and other measures we recommended have been included in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). They provide much-needed authorities that will help strengthen our sexual assault prevention and response efforts, and we are committed to implementing them effectively and without delay.

These measures will complement other initiatives I directed throughout this year to strengthen commander accountability, command climate, victim advocacy, and safety, as well as to enhance victim support and pretrial investigations, strengthen oversight, and make prevention and response efforts more consistent across the military services. Many of these directives are included in the NDAA. For months, I've been meeting weekly with the department's senior leadership to personally review our prevention and response efforts and progress and ensure that all of these initiatives are being implemented to the fullest extent, and I will continue these weekly meetings.

As I and all the leaders of this institution have said, sexual assault is a stain on the honor of millions of military men and women, a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force, and we will not allow this to stand. This is not who the men and women who serve this country are. DoD looks forward to continuing to work with the president and Congress as we continue our relentless work to eliminate sexual assault from our ranks.

Finally, I want to thank the leaders in Congress for their work to pass the Defense Authorization Act, which, in addition to its important sexual assault prevention and response provisions, also extends critical pay and benefits for our troops, helps us to restore military readiness and continue critical modernization efforts, among many other important provisions.

A fact sheet outlining the 16 initiatives the DoD has implemented over the past year can be found here.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

December 3, 2013
December 3, 2013

Statement by Secretary of Defense on Christine Fox


Today, I am announcing that President Obama has accepted my recommendation that he appoint Christine Fox Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, effective Dec. 5.

Christine, who until recently served as the department's Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, is a brilliant defense thinker and proven manager. As a key leader of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, she helped identify the challenges, choices, and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty. She will be able to help me shape our priorities from day one because she knows the intricacies of the department's budget, programs and global operations better than anyone.

Our men and women in uniform will have a passionate and thoughtful advocate in Christine Fox. I am grateful that she has agreed to return to the Department of Defense, pending the nomination and confirmation of a permanent successor to Deputy Secretary Carter.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

November 27, 2013
November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Message


One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. Though it was a time of hardship, Thanksgiving was a day for Americans to express gratitude for the many blessings they enjoyed, including the sacrifices of those serving in uniform and their families. Every year since, Americans have come together during this season to reflect and to give thanks.

As this special American holiday draws near, I want to extend my personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community for your work to keep our country strong and secure. Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows Americans to enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving. Your strength, selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American people, and we are very thankful for your commitment to our country.

This time of year is especially difficult for service members who are serving far away from their families and loved ones. To all those deployed overseas: know that Americans will be thinking about you as they gather around the Thanksgiving table, and praying for your safe return. To their families back here at home: Americans will always be indebted to you for sacrificing on their behalf. And to all DoD personnel everywhere and your families: thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

November 10, 2013
November 10, 2013

Veterans Day Message


To All DOD Personnel:

The American people set aside Veterans Day each year to honor all who have served our country in uniform. In quiet tributes and grand parades, at community centers and war memorials, Americans of all backgrounds come together on November 11th to celebrate the men and women who have fought to keep our country strong and free.

For those who served and those still serving, Veterans Day is a time to reflect on their own experiences, and to acknowledge their enduring bonds with each other. Every generation has faced its own set of challenges, but the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces are united by their common duty and uncommon courage.

Veterans Day is equally important for non-veterans, because it is an opportunity for the American people to learn more about the great sacrifices that have been made on their behalf – especially during the past twelve years of war. The United States is now winding down the longest period of sustained combat in our history, but America's obligations to those who answered the call to serve are only beginning.

Like generations before them, America's newest veterans are poised to help our nation thrive and prosper in the 21st century. They are professionals who have mastered advanced technologies, honed their leadership skills, and demonstrated character, courage, and a profound sense of duty.

From the oldest veterans to the men and women currently serving our nation, all Americans who have served in uniform deserve the nation's appreciation and respect on this uniquely special American Day.

Happy Veterans Day.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

October 17, 2013
October 17, 2013

Message on Reopening the Government


To All DOD Personnel:

Today the Department of Defense is resuming normal operations across the world, now that Congress has finally restored funding for DOD and the rest of the federal government. This manufactured crisis was an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction from our critical work of keeping the country safe.

I know that each of your lives has been disrupted and affected in different ways. I regret the impact that this shutdown had on so many of our civilian personnel, particularly those who I was previously unable to recall from emergency furlough.

Starting today, we will be welcoming all of our civilians back to their normal duties. To those returning from furlough: know that the work you perform is incredibly valued by your military teammates and by me. I appreciate your professionalism and your patience during this difficult period of time, which came on top of last summer's sequestration-related furloughs. Your managers will have more information about this, but I can assure you that you will be paid in full for the time you were furloughed during the shutdown.

Now that this latest budget crisis has come to an end, we have an opportunity to return to focusing on the critical work of this department. Unfortunately, Congress did not end the budget uncertainty that has cast such a shadow of uncertainty over this department for much of the year. In the months ahead, they will have an opportunity to do so. My hope is that they will realize that these kinds of crises do great damage to our people, our national security, our economy, and America's standing in the world. Congress has a responsibility to govern, and it must fulfill those basic responsibilities in order to keep our country strong.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

October 6, 2013
October 6, 2013

Statement on the Pay Our Military Act


Today I am announcing that most DOD civilians placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week.

Immediately after President Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law, I directed DOD's Acting General Counsel to determine whether we could reduce the number of civilian personnel furloughed due to the shutdown. The Department of Defense consulted closely with the Department of Justice, which expressed its view that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. However, DOD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.

Consequently, I am now directing the Military Departments and other DOD components to move expeditiously to identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories. I expect us to be able to significantly reduce – but not eliminate – civilian furloughs under this process. Employees can expect to hear more information from their managers starting this weekend.

We have tried to exempt as many DOD civilian personnel as possible from furloughs. We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible. Ultimately, the surest way to end these damaging and irresponsible furloughs, and to enable us to fulfill our mission as a Department, is for Congress to pass a budget and restore funds for the entire federal government.

This has been a very disruptive year for our people – including active duty, National Guard and reserve personnel, and DOD civilians and contractors. Many important activities remain curtailed while the shutdown goes on. Civilians under furlough face the uncertainty of not knowing when they will next receive a paycheck. I strongly support efforts in Congress to enact legislation to retroactively compensate all furloughed employees. And I will continue to urge Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities to pass a budget and restore full funding for the Department of Defense and the rest of the government.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

September 30, 2013
September 30, 2013

Message to the Force on the
Potential Government Shutdown


To all Department of Defense personnel:

As you know, the government's annual funding could expire at midnight tonight. I have joined President Obama in urging Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and like all of you I would be deeply disappointed if Congress fails to fulfill its most basic responsibilities. We are now in a moment of regrettable and avoidable uncertainty. It would be irresponsible on our part not to prepare for the possibility of a shutdown – especially given that we don't know what Congress will do over the next 24 hours.

To this end, DOD has been moving forward with necessary and prudent preparations. DOD leaders, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, have been reviewing and updating contingency plans. Whatever happens, we will be prepared.

If a shutdown occurs, it will affect different parts of our department in different ways. While military personnel around the world would continue to serve in a normal duty status, a large number of civilian employees and contractors would likely be temporarily furloughed. Your supervisor will provide more information, but I want you to know that furlough decisions are dictated solely by the law, which only permits us to direct civilians to work if they are required to continue supporting military operations or if they are required to protect DOD personnel and property. The furloughs are in no way a reflection of the importance of your work, the hard effort you put forth every day, or your dedicated service to our department and our nation.

This has been a trying period for DOD personnel across the globe – military, civilian, and contractors alike. Right now, I am in South Korea meeting with our Republic of Korea allies and commemorating the 60th anniversary of our mutual defense treaty. I have spent time with U.S. troops and DOD civilians stationed here who would be impacted by a government shutdown. This is an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction from our mission of defending the nation.

DOD personnel and families have been through a lot recently. Sequestration has meant that most of our civilian employees have already had to endure furloughs this year, causing significant stress and hardship, while service members and military families have had to deal with the needless strain of reduced readiness as well as temporary reductions in services essential to their wellbeing. I know the uncertainty of a possible shutdown only adds to the anxiety that I'm sure many of you and your families are feeling. But I also know that the Department of Defense is a strong and resilient institution. We are going into this challenge together and we will come out of it together.

I want to thank all of you – military and civilian – for your patience and your professionalism, as well as your continued service and dedication to both our department and our country.

Thank you, and God Bless you and your families.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

September 3, 2013
September 3, 2013

Message on Suicide Prevention Month


The Department of Defense has no more important responsibility than supporting and protecting those who defend our country and that means we must do everything possible to prevent military suicide. As we observe Suicide Prevention Month, the entire DOD community – Service members, civilians, members of our families and leaders at every level – must demonstrate our collective resolve to prevent suicide, to promote greater knowledge of its causes and to encourage those in need to seek support. No one who serves this country in uniform should ever feel they have nowhere to turn.

The Department of Defense has invested more than $100 million into research on the diagnosis and treatment of depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse, as well as interventions for relationship, financial and legal issues – all of which can be associated with suicide. We are working to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and we are steadily increasing the number of mental health professionals and peer support counselors. Effective suicide prevention training is critical to all these efforts and we are instructing our leaders on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of crisis and encourage service members to seek support. We are also reaching out to military families and the broader community to enlist their support in this cause.

Seeking behavioral health care is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor and integrity. Those values are at the foundation of what that we stand for and what we defend. The Military Crisis Line is there for all who need it. I encourage anyone in need to call 1-800-273-8255 and press one to speak to a trained professional, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is confidential and available to all service members and their families.

Always remember that our most valuable resource is each other. When one of us faces a challenge, we all must stand together. By fighting as one team, we can – and we will – help prevent suicide. Thank you.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

August 15, 2013
August 15, 2013

Statement on New Sexual Assault Prevention
and Response Measures of Military Members


Eliminating sexual assault from the armed forces remains one of the Department of Defense's top priorities. This effort requires our absolute and sustained commitment to providing a safe environment in which every service member and DOD civilian is free from the threat of sexual harassment and assault.

Our success depends on a dynamic and responsive approach. We, therefore, must continually assess and strive to improve our prevention and response programs.

In May, I directed a range of initiatives designed to strengthen our programs in the areas of commander accountability, command climate, victim advocacy, and safety. Today, I am directing immediate implementation of the following additional measures to improve victim support, strengthen pretrial investigations, enhance oversight, and make prevention and response efforts more consistent across the military services:

  • Creating a legal advocacy program in each military service that will provide legal representation to sexual assault victims throughout the judicial process;
  • Ensuring that pretrial investigative hearings of sexual assault-related charges are conducted by judge advocates general (JAG) officers;
  • Providing commanders with options to reassign or transfer a member who is accused of committing a sexual assault or related offense in order to eliminate continued contact while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused;
  • Requiring timely follow-up reports on sexual assault incidents and responses to be given to the first general or flag officer within the chain of command;
  • Directing DOD's inspector general to regularly evaluate closed sexual assault investigations;
  • Standardizing prohibitions on inappropriate behavior between recruiters and trainers and their recruits and trainees across the department, and;
  • Developing and proposing changes to the Manual for Courts-Martial that would allow victims to give input during the sentencing phase of courts-martial.

All of these measures will provide victims additional rights, protections, and legal support, and help ensure that sexual assault-related investigations and judicial proceedings are conducted thoroughly and professionally. In addition, the Department of Defense has established an independent panel, in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which is currently reviewing and assessing the systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes involving sexual assault and related offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I have met with panel members and I will closely review their recommendations when complete.

Sexual assault is a stain on the honor of our men and women who honorably serve our country, as well as a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force. It must be stamped out. I will continue to meet weekly with DOD's senior leadership team to personally review our efforts and ensure that directives and programs are being implemented effectively. We are all accountable to fix this problem, and we will fix it together. We will continue to work closely with the Congress and the White House on eliminating sexual assault in the military.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

August 14, 2013
August 14, 2013

Extending Benefits to the Same-Sex Spouses
of Military Members


The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's recent decision declaring section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented Federal recognition of same-sex marriages, to be unconstitutional. The Department has begun the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. It is now the Department's policy to treat all married military personnel equally. The Department will construe the words "spouse" and "marriage" to include same-sex spouses and marriages, and the Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. The Department will continue to recognize all marriages that are valid in the place of celebration.

The implementation effort is led by the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in coordination with the Military Departments. It is my expectation that all spousal and family benefits, including identification cards, will be made available to same-sex spouses no later than September 3, 2013. The Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will issue further guidance as necessary as the Department works through this process.

On February 11, 2013, my predecessor directed that the Department of Defense extend, by August 31, 2013, certain benefits to same-sex domestic partners of military members, and, where applicable, the children of the same-sex domestic partner, once the Service member and their same-sex domestic partner signed a declaration attesting to the existence of their committed relationship. He also stated that the Department would reassess this decision if the Defense of Marriage Act were to become no longer applicable to the Department. After the recent Supreme Court decision made the Act inapplicable to the Department, that reassessment was conducted.

As the Supreme Court's ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the extension of benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of military members is no longer necessary to remedy the inequity that was caused by section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

We recognize that same-sex couples not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. Accordingly, the Department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of traveling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur. This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the Department and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.

The Department of Defense remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve our country and their families are treated fairly and equally. Expeditious implementation of the decisions announced in this memorandum will help the Department remain true to that commitment.

Thank you,
Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

August 6, 2013
August 6, 2013

Message on Reducing Civilian Furloughs


When I announced my decision on May 14 to impose furloughs of up to 11 days on civilian employees to help close the budget gap caused by sequestration, I also said we would do everything possible to find the money to reduce furlough days for our people. With the end of the fiscal year next month, managers across the DOD are making final decisions necessary to ensure we make the $37 billion spending cuts mandated by sequestration, while also doing everything possible to limit damage to military readiness and our workforce. We are joined in this regard by managers in non-defense agencies who are also working to accommodate sequestration cuts while minimizing mission damage. As part of that effort at the Department of Defense, I am announcing today that, thanks to the DOD's efforts to identify savings and help from Congress, we will reduce the total numbers of furlough days for DOD civilian employees from 11 to six.

When sequestration took effect on March 1, DOD faced shortfalls of more than $30 billion in its budget for day-to-day operating costs because of sequestration and problems with wartime funding. At that point we faced the very real possibility of unpaid furloughs for civilian employees of up to 22 days.

As early as January, DOD leaders began making painful and far reaching changes to close this shortfall: civilian hiring freezes, layoffs of temporary workers, significant cuts in facilities maintenance, and more. We also sharply cut training and maintenance. The Air Force stopped flying in many squadrons, the Navy kept ships in port, and the Army cancelled training events. These actions have seriously reduced military readiness.

By early May, even after taking these steps, we still faced day-to-day budgetary shortfalls of $11 billion. At that point I decided that cutting any deeper into training and maintenance would jeopardize our core readiness mission and national security, which is why I announced furloughs of 11 days.

Hoping to be able to reduce furloughs, we submitted a large reprogramming proposal to Congress in May, asking them to let us move funds from acquisition accounts into day-to-day operating accounts. Congress approved most of this request in late July, and we are working with them to meet remaining needs. We are also experiencing less than expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan. Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies. And the furloughs have saved us money.

As a result of these management initiatives, reduced costs, and reprogramming from Congress, we have determined that we can make some improvements in training and readiness and still meet the sequestration cuts. The Air Force has begun flying again in key squadrons, the Army has increased funding for organizational training at selected units, and the Navy has restarted some maintenance and ordered deployments that otherwise would not have happened. While we are still depending on furlough savings, we will be able to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced.

This has been one of the most volatile and uncertain budget cycles the Department of Defense has ever experienced. Our fiscal planning has been conducted under a cloud of uncertainty with the imposition of sequestration and changing rules as Congress made adjustments to our spending authorities.

As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DOD will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on October 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year's sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.

I want to thank our civilian workers for their patience and dedication during these extraordinarily tough times, and for their continued service and devotion to our department and our country. I know how difficult this has been for all of you and your families. Your contribution to national security is invaluable, and I look forward to one day putting this difficult period behind us. Thank you and God Bless you and your families.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

July 26, 2013
July 26, 2013

Statement on 60th Anniversary of Armistice Day


I am honored to join President Obama and the Korean delegation this weekend at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

Korean War veterans stepped forward to serve at a defining time in our history, and they deserve our thanks. They liberated millions of people from tyranny and helped forge a strong and lasting partnership with the Republic of Korea - one that has endured for more than six decades because of our shared values and shared sacrifice.

In remembering the end of the Korean War, we also commemorate the beginning of a new era in the history of the region - a period of unprecedented growth, security, and prosperity.

The United States remains committed to ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. More than 28,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serve in Korea today, and just as Korean War veterans held the line from Pusan to Panmunjom, so too do these current-day defenders stand ready to help guard freedom as well as promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout East Asia.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

July 3, 2013
July 3, 2013

Independence Day Message


On this Independence Day, I want to express my appreciation to the men and women and their families who serve our country across the nation and around the world. Thank you for everything you do to help keep our nation safe.

It's been 237 years since a small band of patriots signed the Declaration of Independence, in which they pledged their lives and their sacred honor to defend our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since then, generations of Americans have made that same pledge, boldly standing up in the face of tyranny, oppression, and persecution.

That legacy lives on today. This week marked the 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer force, a symbol of how our brave men and women in uniform continue to protect the freedoms declared by our founding fathers more than two centuries ago. Their devotion to duty is just as strong, as is their willingness to risk their lives for each other and our country. And their dedication is a reminder that the preservation of America's liberties does not come without cost.

Those who serve in our armed forces, and their families, have given much in the name of defending the ideals and free institutions we often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate our nation's birth, let us honor their dutiful service and strive to be worthy of their tremendous sacrifices.

God bless you, our great nation, and all who serve to protect it. Happy Fourth of July!

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

July 1, 2013
July 1, 2013

40th Anniversary of the All-Volunteer Force


Forty years ago today, the Department of Defense implemented one of the most consequential and far-reaching changes in the history of America's armed forces with the establishment of the all-volunteer force.

In commemorating the birth of our modern military, we recognize and thank the millions of men and women and their families who have served our country – on active duty, in the reserves, and in the National Guard. Skeptics and detractors claimed an all-volunteer force could not be sustained, but these remarkable Americans proved otherwise. They helped win the Cold War, stood against aggression in the Persian Gulf, kept peace in the Balkans, and put their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years since 9/11. They choose to serve our country because they believe in a cause that is bigger than themselves. They've always put the interests of the nation first, as have their families. It's because of their sense of duty that the American military remains the most trusted institution in our society today.

Our all-volunteer force faces challenges. It will need to rebalance, adapt, and evolve, as it has over the last 40 years. America's all-volunteer force will continue to make our military the strongest, most capable, and most respected fighting force in the history of the world.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Message


Today is a day for all Americans to gather with friends and family in communities across the country to enjoy each other's company, and honor those generations of patriots who have fought and died in uniform to preserve the freedoms we all cherish. We also grieve with those families who lost loved ones too soon – parents, wives, husbands, sons, and daughters for whom Memorial Day will always be a time of solemn remembrance. The perseverance and resilience of our military families is the bedrock of our military strength.

Over more than a decade of sustained war, the United States has been blessed to have millions of men and women step forward to serve, to risk their lives and stand watch in every corner of the world to defend our nation. Today we remember the more than 6,600 men and women in uniform who have perished on distant battlefields since September 11th, 2001.

The men and women that serve today are as humble, patriotic, and selfless as any generation that has come before them. Many have deployed on multiple tours – active duty, guardsmen, and reservists – all citizens doing their part for the country they love. They continue to make enormous sacrifices, along with their families. We owe them and their families our most heartfelt thanks and constant support, for they have added another chapter to our nation's book of honor.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 22, 2013
May 22, 2013

Hagel Stresses Summer Safety


The summer months are often a high point of our year as we take a well-deserved vacation and spend time with family and friends. The summer allows for an opportunity to relax and refresh. However, many of the activities we pursue during our vacation time put us at risk for accidents that have potentially serious consequences.

As you drive to and from vacation destinations, remember that 81 percent of the non-combat fatalities in 2012 total took place over the summer. Last summer, 80 service members died in motor vehicle collisions; 27 in 4-wheel vehicles, 47 while riding motorcycles, 4 were pedestrians, and 2 were bicyclists. These fatalities occurred in spite of state laws and Department of Defense policies requiring the use of seatbelts while in a car and protective gear while riding motorcycles and bicycles.

An untold number of deaths resulted from fatigue -- deaths preventable by proper trip planning and fatigue management while driving. All military leaders must emphasize how important it is for everyone in our DOD community to follow these simple precautions while traveling on our nation's roads.

Some of you will enjoy water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or water skiing. Sadly, six service members died while participating in water-related activities last summer. It is important to follow swimming area rules and to be aware of the hidden dangers inherent in participating in water activities.

Alcohol is all too often a component in these tragic accidents. Recognize the risks and make good decisions. We all know that alcohol, even in small quantities, impairs our decision-making and is often a significant factor in many accidents. So before taking our first sip, we need to remember never to drink and drive. Plan ahead and always think before acting.

We all must do everything we can to be safer this summer. Each of us must do our part to keep everyone around us safe off-duty, as we do on-duty. Fundamental military lessons of working together, exercising leadership, focusing on the mission, and having the courage to say no to a risky situation are all essential to enjoying the summer and returning to your units.

I want to thank each of you for your service to this nation. You serve so that all Americans can be safe and free. I wish each of you a safe and enjoyable summer.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013

Armed Forces Day Message


Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for all Americans to express their gratitude to service members, military families, and veterans who keep this nation strong and safe. In 2013, we mark the twelfth consecutive Armed Forces Day with our nation at war – the longest period of sustained combat in our history, fought entirely by volunteers who made the courageous choice to answer the nation's call.

President Harry Truman, who proclaimed the nation's first Armed Forces Day, once said: "America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."

That courage, imagination, and determination comes from ordinary citizens like you who have stepped forward to do extraordinary things throughout our nation's history.

To all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen: take pride – not only on Armed Forces Day but every day – in the uniform that you wear and the patriotic duty you perform. You are striving to make a difference and leading purposeful lives. You are part of a force that is admired and respected both at home and abroad. Remember that there is no challenge that cannot be met through the shared determination of the world's greatest military.

To the husbands, wives, sons, daughters and loved ones of our service members: Armed Forces Day is also a day to recognize the considerable sacrifices you make every day, and for this nation to reaffirm its commitments to you. You too have made our nation stronger and safer.

To our nation's veterans: thank you for the service you gave to this country and for the support that you give our men and women carrying on your legacy today. As Americans take this Armed Forces Day to reflect on what the military has meant for this country, I hope they also find new ways to show their admiration and respect for all those in our military family. Words of thanks and support will never be enough to repay the debt that this nation owes its patriots.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 14, 2013
May 14, 2013

Message from Secretary Hagel on Furloughs


To all Department of Defense personnel:

As you are fully aware, the Department of Defense is facing a historic shortfall in our budget for the current fiscal year. This is the result of current law that went into effect March 1. It imposes deep across-the-board cuts on DOD and other federal agencies. Combined with higher than expected wartime operating costs, we are now short more than $30 billion in our operation and maintenance (O&M) accounts – which are the funds that we use to pay most civilian employees, maintain our military readiness, and respond to global contingencies.

The Department has been doing everything possible to reduce this shortfall while ensuring we can defend the nation, sustain wartime operations, and preserve DOD's most critical asset – our world-class civilian and military personnel. To that end, we have cut back sharply on facilities maintenance, worked to shift funds from investment to O&M accounts, and reduced many other important but non-essential programs.

Still, these steps have not been enough to close the shortfall. Each of the military services has begun to significantly reduce training and maintenance of non-deployed operating forces – steps that will adversely impact military readiness. And even these reductions are not enough. Since deeper cuts to training and maintenance could leave our nation and our military exposed in the event of an unforeseen crisis, we have been forced to consider placing the majority of our civilian employees on administrative furlough.

After extensive review of all options with the DOD's senior military and civilian leadership on how we address this budget crisis, today I am announcing that I have decided to direct furloughs of up to 11 days for most of the Department's civilian personnel. I have made this decision very reluctantly, because I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DOD operations. I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families.

After required notifications, we will begin the furlough period on July 8 at the rate of one furlough day per week for most personnel. We plan to continue these furloughs through the end of the current fiscal year. If our budgetary situation permits us to end furloughs early, I would strongly prefer to do so. That is a decision I will make later in the year.

Furloughs for 11 days represent about half of the number we had originally planned, reflecting the Department's vigorous efforts to meet our budgetary shortfalls through actions other than furlough. There will be exceptions driven by law and by the need to minimize harm to the execution of our core missions. For example, all employees deployed or temporarily assigned to a combat zone will be excepted from furloughs.

Your managers have been given authority to develop specific furlough procedures to minimize adverse mission effects and also limit the harm to morale and productivity. They will be in touch with you to provide guidance and answers.

The President and I are deeply appreciative of your patience, your hard work, and your dedication and contributions to the critical mission of helping protect America's national security. I am counting on all of you to stay focused on this vital mission in the days ahead. As I said the day I assumed the responsibilities of Secretary of Defense, I'm proud to be part of your team and I'm proud to serve with you.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

April 2, 2013
April 2, 2013

Secretary Issues Message on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month


This month, the Department of Defense observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with the theme "We own it…we'll solve it…together."

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity for the entire DOD community – service members, civilians, members of our families and leaders at every level – to underscore our commitment to eliminating the crime of sexual assault, supporting victims, and intervening when appropriate to help stop unsafe behavior.

Together, we must work every day to instill a climate that does not tolerate or ignore sexist behavior, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. These have no place in the United States military and violate everything we stand for and the values we defend. Creating a culture free of the scourge of sexual assault requires establishing an environment where dignity and respect is afforded to all, and where diversity is celebrated as one of our greatest assets as a force.

We are strong because of our values of service, sacrifice and loyalty – and doing what is right. We watch out for each other and respect each other. By drawing on these strengths, we can and we must stop sexual assault within our ranks.

Remember, we own it…we'll solve it…together.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

March 19, 2013
March 19, 2013

Hagel Honors Sacrifices on 10th Anniversary
Of Iraq War's Start


This week marks the ten year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. While that conflict has been brought to an end, we must never lose sight of the tremendous sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform made during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Every one of the more than one million service members that deployed to Iraq, often for multiple tours of duty, deserves our highest praise and deepest debt of gratitude. They served with valor and met every challenge - from the streets of Fallujah and Sadr City to outposts in Ramadi and Mosul - always watching out for their brothers and sisters in arms.

The American people will always honor the sacrifices of the 4,475 U.S. service members who died in Iraq, and the more than 32,000 who came home wounded. Every man and woman who served in Iraq carries with them the scars of war. As we remember these quiet heroes this week we are also reminded of their families and their sacrifices, as we also honor and thank them.

Our reflections include the Iraqi people - the Iraqi soldiers and police officers who died alongside our own, the men and women who were caught in the crossfire, and those who still struggle today to secure and govern their nation. The Iraqi people will determine the future of Iraq and the United States will continue to support their efforts for a peaceful, secure, free, and prosperous nation.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

March 8, 2013
March 8, 2013

Secretary Issues Message to ISAF Personnel
During First Official Trip to Afghanistan


To All ISAF Personnel:

This is my fifth trip to Afghanistan, but my first trip as the United States Secretary of Defense. Over the course of my visit, I look forward to meeting many of you and seeing the extraordinary work that you are accomplishing every day. Whether you are in combat, logistics, medical support or intelligence, whether you are working in a headquarters or going out on patrol, whether you are on the ground or in the air, your contributions to the fight are invaluable.

What you are doing here in Afghanistan will help ensure that al Qaeda does not re-establish the safe haven they had before September 11, 2001. You are working under stressful and difficult conditions, and you have my profound gratitude, and the gratitude of the American people, for your service and your sacrifices. You have my full support, and I will do everything I possibly can to help you succeed and come home safely to your families. I have no higher priority as Secretary of Defense than your safety, success, and welfare.

I believe that we are at a very important moment in this campaign, with the Afghan National Security Forces on the verge of stepping into the lead for all combat operations across the country. As the 2013 fighting season gets underway, the ANSF will be doing more and more of the fighting, and relying on you for support, training, and advice. The choices you make on the battlefield, the professionalism and honor you carry forward, and the relationships and trust you build with our Afghan partners are all essential to the success of this campaign.

Even as we move into more of a support role, this remains a dangerous and difficult mission. We are still at war, and many of you will continue to experience the ugly reality of combat and the heat of battle. But the goal we have established – to have Afghans assume full responsibility for security by the end of 2014 – is clear and achievable.

So as I begin my time as Secretary of Defense, I look forward to hearing from you, seeing this war from your vantage point, and working to make sure you get what you need to finish the fight and come home safe. This is a decisive time – and with your continued professionalism, dedication and sacrifice, I believe we can make history and help forge a more peaceful future for the people of Afghanistan, for the region, and – in turn – for the world.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

February 27, 2013
February 27, 2013

Secretary Issues Message to Defense Department Personnel After Taking Office


To all Department of Defense personnel:

Earlier today I was privileged to take the oath of office to become the 24th Secretary of Defense. I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity that President Obama and the Congress have given me to once again serve our nation.

I am most especially grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you. Every day you work to defend America. The noble cause of your profession, your individual sacrifices, and your service inspire us all.

As your leader, I will always do my best for our country and for all of you – and your families. As with my friends and predecessors Leon Panetta and Bob Gates, your safety, success, and welfare will always be at the forefront of my decisions. I will build on the strong foundation of teamwork built by Secretaries Gates and Panetta, as we work together. Leadership is a team business.

I have long believed that America must maintain the strongest military on earth; we must lead the international community, with a steady and sure hand to confront threats and challenges together as we work closely with our allies and partners to advance our common interests and build a more hopeful world. We must use all tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests; and America must engage – not retreat – in the world, but engage wisely.

This is a defining time for the United States military and for our nation. We are emerging from more than a decade of war, yet the threats facing us are no less dangerous or complicated.

Despite these challenges, I believe an historic opportunity exists to help build a safer, more prosperous, and more secure world. But to achieve this goal we must ensure that we are ready, trained and equipped to fulfill our role of protecting the country and standing firm against aggression. To that end, the strength, well-being and readiness of our all-volunteer force will be my top priority. This will require 21st century agility and flexibility. We must take care of our people, and working with the VA and other institutions, I will ensure that you and your families get the health care, job opportunities, benefits, and education you have all earned and deserve. My life and career have been about helping our service members, veterans and their families. One of my proudest accomplishments in the U.S. Senate was coauthoring with my fellow Vietnam veteran and friend, Jim Webb, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

As I assume this office, I am mindful of the sacrifices that you and your families have made for more than a decade, and continue to make every day. In Afghanistan, where 66,000 of our troops remain in a tough fight, we have a clear and achievable objective to fully transition security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces by the end of 2014. As you know, Afghan forces will step into the lead for security operations across the country this spring, and over the next year another 34,000 of our troops will come home.

As we turn the page on more than a decade of grinding conflict, we must broaden our attention to future threats and challenges. That means continuing to increase our focus on the Asia-Pacific region, reinvigorating historic Alliances like NATO, and making new investments in critical capabilities like cyber.

In order to accomplish our mission, we also must make wise budget decisions prioritizing our interests and requirements. Like each of you, I am greatly concerned about the impact that the looming round of automatic budget cuts will have on you and your families, and on military readiness. As someone who has run businesses, I know that severe budget uncertainty limits our ability and flexibility to manage and plan and use taxpayer dollars in the most efficient manner possible. I will work within the Administration and with Congress to help resolve this uncertainty in a way that does not break America's commitment to you, your families, and our veterans.

As I begin my time here at the Department I want you to know that I recognize the immense responsibility that I have, and will work hard every day to fulfill my duties as Secretary of Defense as honestly and effectively as I know how. You are the greatest force for good in the world. It is the highest honor to serve alongside you. I am proud to be part of your team. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our country.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense


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