Earlier this week, a widely circulated article in Politico referred to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as a “paper tiger” whose time as defense chief had been disappointing. Unnamed sources suggested that Hagel didn’t have the chops to negotiate the budget battlefield or make tough choices that would anger not just DOD brass but also the average soldier.
Perhaps Hagel took note of this criticism, because his actions yesterday serve as a warning shot across the bow of those who think he’s bluffing about cutting billions from DOD’s budget. Hagel announced he would reduce the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense by 200 over the next five years, saving $1 billion.
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"Some of these savings will be achieved through significant reductions in civilian personnel; much of these savings will be achieved through contractor reductions," Hagel said Wednesday. "We are still finalizing the details, which will be available when the budget is submitted next year. But we will save at least $1 billion over the next five years."
One billion dollars in savings is a miniscule percentage of the $600 billion expected to be removed from DOD’s budget over 10 years as mandated by the sequester. But by cutting positions within his own office, he’s sending a clear message to those in Congress who doubted he was up to the task. He’s also sending a message to the rest of the Pentagon – no office, program or personnel is safe from the coming drawdown.
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