US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlines six critical areas to drive Defense Department reform. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon needs to make significant changes “across every aspect” of the defense enterprise, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday, as he identified six focus areas that will guide a major DoD reform effort.
DoD is reviewing its so-called “force planning construct,” assumptions that dictate troop organization, military training and equipment purchases, Hagel said. These assumptions will be re-evaluated in the Quadrennial Defense Review, which is due to Congress early next year.
“The goal is to ensure they better reflect our goals in the shifting strategic environment, the evolving capacity of our allies and partners, real-world threats and the new military capabilities that reside in our force and in the hands of our potential adversaries,” Hagel said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “We must make sure that contingency scenarios drive force structure decisions, and not the other way around.”
DoD must prepare for a future in which non-deployed troops are not trained to the levels they are now.
“We may have to accept the reality that not every unit will be at maximum readiness, and some kind of a tiered readiness system is perhaps inevitable,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon curtailed training for some units as part of an effort to save $37 billion between March and September. The sequestration cuts are mandated by the Budget Control Act. DoD’s 2014 budget proposal exceeds the defense spending caps by $52 billion. It is building two 2015 budget proposals, one that meets those caps and another that builds on its 2014 proposal.
The six focus areas announced on Tuesday will guide DoD’s budget and strategic planning effort, Hagel said. The secretary discussed those areas during a meeting with the service secretaries, chiefs and combatant commanders last week, according to a senior defense official.
“Coming out of more than a decade of war and budget growth, there is a clear opportunity and need to reform and reshape our entire defense enterprise,” Hagel said.
Hagel, who has been defense secretary since late February, first addressed the need for major DoD reform during an April speech at National Defense University. His address Thursday built on themes from his original speech.
The six focus areas are:
■ Institutional Reform.
■ Re-evaluate military’s force planning construct.
■ Preparing for a prolonged military readiness challenge.
■ Protecting Investment in emerging military capabilities.
■ Balanced mix between capacity and capability.
■ Personnel and compensation policy.
The six priorities are informed by lessons learned from the Strategic Choices and Management Review, which wrapped up in July, and will serve as inputs to DoD’s 2015 budget proposal and the Quadrennial Defense Review, a senior defense official said.
“These six priorities will help determine the shape of our defense institutions for years to come,” Hagel said.
One of the first steps of the upcoming reform is paring down Pentagon headquarters by 20 percent, an effort Hagel announced in July.
“Our goal [of these cuts] is not only to direct more of our resources to real military capabilities and readiness, but to make organizations flatter and more responsive to the needs of our men and women in uniform,” Hagel said.
Despite the budget cuts, DoD will look to protect investments in “emerging military capabilities, especially space, cyber, special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” Hagel said.