SECDEF: Cutbacks Could Force Promotion Freeze In FY 2014
As deep cuts in defense spending continue to take hold, the Secretary of Defense has notified Congress that the DoD will be forced to take some draconian measures come fiscal year 2014.
With an ongoing war in Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense must find an additional $52 billion in cuts to make, hopefully without harming the war effort. As part of that plan, the Secretary of Defense told Congress, through a letter, that the combination of cutbacks could include some items that are deeply painful for military servicemembers and their families. For example, the Secretary said cuts could include:
- A freeze on all promotions
- A freeze on permanent-change-of-station moves
- A continued freeze on civilian hiring
- Halting all discretionary bonuses, such as reenlistment bonuses
- Stop taking in recruits
- 20 percent reductions in procurement, construction and R&D
Secretary Hagel sent the letter to Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and James Inhofe (R – Oklahoma). The Senators had asked the Secretary to lay out the effects that planned budget rollbacks and sequestration measures would have on military personnel and readiness.
Hagel also said the DoD would be forced to make deep cuts to weapons programs and put off needed facilities and infrastructure maintenance. However, the law does not allow the DoD to shut down unneeded posts.
Hagel also called for caps on military pay increases, and increases in TRICARE fees for retirees.
The Secretary also said that if sequestration remains in effect as it currently stands, there would possibly be a round of involuntary discharges.
All told, unless Congress takes action, the Department of Defense must find over half a trillion dollars in savings vis. Previously planned baseline spending over the next 10 years – while at the same time successfully prosecuting the Afghanistan war and satisfying its normal peacetime missions such as guarding key shipping lanes and deterring aggression from rival nations such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
However, the funds specifically allocated to support the Afghanistan warfighing mission have thus far been protected from sequester.
Secretary Hagel would also like to eliminate unneeded bases, ships and weapons. However, this is always an uphill battle for the Department of Defense, because every unneeded program is all too often some Congressperson’s pet project.