2014 Budget Looks to Balance Ends, Ways, Means, Hagel Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 16, 2013 President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget request for the Defense Department is the best effort to match ends, ways and means, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee today.
This is a time of fiscal uncertainty, Hagel told the representatives, and Congress and the administration must work together to ensure the United States is safe.
But “significant changes to the department’s topline spending would require changes to this budget plan,” the secretary added.
The president’s request of $526.6 billion for the department’s base budget will allow DOD to implement the defense strategic guidance, Hagel said. However, the old statement, “The president proposes, the Congress disposes,” is key to the budget process, and the budget may not pass in its current form.
If the budget is significantly reduced, the secretary told the lawmakers, there may not be enough money to implement the strategic guidance.
Hagel explained that is why he tasked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lead a strategic choices and management review.
“I asked for that review in order to assess the potential impact of further reductions up to the level of full sequester,” he said. “The purpose of this review is to reassess the basic assumptions that drive the department’s investment and force structure decisions.”
The review is designed to help understand the challenges, articulate the risks, and look for opportunities for reform and efficiencies presented by resource constraints, the secretary said.
“Everything will be on the table during this review -- roles and missions, planning, business practices, force structure, personnel and compensation, acquisition and modernization investments, how we operate, and how we measure and maintain readiness,” Hagel added.
The results -- due at the end of May -- will be used to build the fiscal 2015 budget request and will be the foundation for the Quadrennial Defense Review due to Congress in February.
“It is already clear to me that achieving significant additional budget savings, without unacceptable risk to national security, will require not just tweaking or chipping away at existing structures and practices, but if necessary, fashioning entirely new ones that better reflect 21st century realities,” the secretary said, noting that Congress has a role to play in this.
In the past, modest reforms to personnel and benefits -- and moves to reduce infrastructure and restructure defense acquisitions -- met “fierce political resistance and were not implemented,” Hagel said.
“We are now in a different fiscal environment,” he added, “dealing with new realities that will force us to more fully confront these tough and painful choices and to make the reforms we need to make to put this department on a path to sustain our military strength for the 21st century.”