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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans Wednesday to slash his own office’s budget by 20 percent over the next five years,
“Much of these savings will be achieved through contractor reductions, although there will be reductions in civilian personnel,” Hagel said at a Pentagon briefing.
The move comes after Hagel’s recent internal strategic review called for slashing all of the Defense Department’s major headquarters budgets by 20 percent. Pentagon officials say Hagel wants to first initiate changes in his Office of the Secretary of Defense to set an example for other Defense Department headquarters components.
“Ultimately, other headquarters elements will be implementing similar reductions,” Hagel said, adding that he hopes the result will “empower people by reducing layers of bureaucracy.”
The effort will ultimately affect all three- and four-star commanders’ headquarters staffs, said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The changes in Hagel’s office are unlikely to directly affect many active-duty billets in the Pentagon. Plans for reducing other headquarters staffs may affect uniformed service members’ jobs more significantly.
In addition to reducing contractors, the total full-time staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense will fall by about 10 percent over the next five years, from about 2,400 today to less than 2,200 by 2019, Hagel said.
These changes will save an estimated $1 billion over five years.
Overall, the budget cuts known as sequestration may force the Pentagon to reduce spending by about $500 billion over the next decade, or about 10 percent from current levels. But Hagel insisted that does not mean the U.S. is “retreating from any part of the world.”
The reductions within OSD will occur mostly through attrition rather than the immediate elimination of positions.
Targets for elimination include some of the lesser-known offices on the OSD organizational chart, such as the Deputy Undersecretary for Installations and Environment and the Deputy Undersecretary for Plans and Forces.