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Editorial: The New Message from Hagel

Nov. 12, 2013 - 03:35PM   |  
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The Pentagon rolled out Chuck Hagel 2.0 last week, refocusing the US defense secretary on his reform message.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, Hagel again made the case for structural change across the Pentagon.

DoD, he says, must revamp how it does business, put capability ahead of capacity and adopt a more realistic global posture.

While it may sound like a rehash of the wish list he outlined in his inaugural address in April, there is an important difference: This time, even if some public statements donít reflect it, there is now an understanding that sequestration-level cuts are here to stay.

Success now will depend on focus and speed.

First, the administration of President Barack Obama must drop the charade of creating multiple, parallel DoD budgets ó one acknowledging sequestration, the other pretending it doesnít exist. Thatís a waste.

Second, Hagel must focus on the big challenges facing DoD that can yield game-changing savings, like personnel and benefits reform, instead of searching for pennies by shrinking advisory panels like the Defense Science Board.

Itís human nature to focus on the small and simple rather than large and complex during times of crisis.

Pentagon leaders, however, cannot afford to be distracted by the trivial at the expense of the truly important.

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