The budget ax is falling at the Pentagon.
And they’d like you to know they’re starting to cut at the top. The very top, as in Defense Secretary Hagel’s headquarters. That’s probably a wise move given his announcement Wednesday that the pain of Pentagon budget reductions over the next several years — as much as $1 trillion — will be felt all the way down to the loneliest post and lowliest private.
Best for the Big Guy to take the first hit.
So it was that Hagel’s order to reduce spending on military headquarters by 20 percent over five years was released Thursday by his spokesman, George Little. The memo, written by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, offers some detail into what headquarters will be affected — Hagel’s office, the Joint Staff, combatant commands, service secretaries, among others.
And, just as important, who. In this case, “government civilian personnel who work at headquarters” are among those who could be targeted. Presumably, that means more furloughs or possibly layoffs.
Carter notes that the reduction will be “challenging,” and added, “However, in this period of additional downward pressure on defense spending, we must continue to reduce our headquarters budgets and staffing.”
Easier said than done.
The ranks of three- and four-star officers have swelled by more than 100 since 2001. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wanted to do away with half of them. This spring, Hagel reported that little progress had been made toward that goal.
Plans for the newest cuts are due on Carter’s desk by Sept. 23.