Defense to Trim Office Staff; Hagel Speaks About Sequestration

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-12_a7aca65384.jpgPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel began Wednesday’s Pentagon briefing with a lengthy announcement about how the 2,400 personnel who serve in the office of the Secretary of Defense will be reduced by 20 percent over the next five years.

The reductions will be achieved through consolidation of offices, attrition and elimination of contractor jobs, and are expected to save $1 billion. Hagel said the savings might not be considered much but every little bit helps with the future budget cuts. As for the next round of sequestration cuts next year, Hagel doesn’t foresee a congressional “rescue," while making note of the uncertainty that Congress has created because there still isn’t a budget for this year and the continuing resolution that will run out on Jan. 15.   When the cuts come, he said, the Pentagon would be ready for the hard choices because of the reviews he ordered this year that have helped planners determine what strategic choices they will need to make. Interestingly, Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, also spoke about how defense of the homeland has become such a big factor of their discussions when talking about future budget cuts.  Dempsey said there’s been the emerging realization that “the homeland is no longer a sanctuary. If we are engaged in a conflict virtually anywhere in the globe, there is likely to be some effect in the homeland. Whether it's ballistic -- potentially ballistic missiles or cyber, something could potentially affect the homeland in a way that it hasn't heretofore. So the homeland is actually achieving much greater prominence in our discussions of our future strategy than at any time in my 40 years, as it should.”

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