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Hagel warns of dangers in deep cuts to defense

By Robert Burns

AP National Security Writer

LAST UPDATED: 07:11 a.m. HST, Nov 05, 2013

WASHINGTON >> The Pentagon is preparing top-to-bottom changes, including a push to limit the growth of military pay, as it adjusts to steep budget cuts and the winding down of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

In a speech on U.S. defense priorities, Hagel said that as the Obama administration preserves the military's strength it will make it a less prominent tool of foreign policy. That's not a new goal but one Hagel said is more achievable now that the U.S. is ending more than a decade of foreign conflict and the public is weary of war.

He sketched a future focused on investments in space and cyber technologies, missile defense and a strategy that assumes the world will not soon resolve challenges posed by terrorism and "heavily armed" states like North Korea.

He advocated a more humble U.S. approach to foreign policy.

"We must also make a far better effort to understand how the world sees us, and why," he said. "We must listen more." Cautioning against national arrogance, the former Republican senator from Nebraska and Vietnam combat veteran said "the insidious disease of hubris can undo America's great strengths. We also must not fall prey to hubris," nor to the idea of American decline.

Hagel said that since he took office in February he has been intent on finding ways to adapt the nation's defense priorities to the realities created by a rancorous budget debate in Washington that has undermined the Pentagon's ability to plan ahead. He warned of the impasse's dangers, including the prospect of nearly $500 billion in defense cuts over 10 years as a result of the forced budget reductions known as sequestration. And he noted that this would be in addition to $487 billion in cuts already in motion.

"These cuts are too fast, too abrupt and too irresponsible," he said at a public forum on national security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a centrist think tank. He cited a danger that the budget crisis "will cause an unnecessary, strategically unsound and dangerous degradation in military readiness and capability."

But he also said Pentagon leaders are not assuming the government's budget crisis will be resolved soon.

One possible consequence of continued impasse, he said, is that a larger part of the military will lose its combat edge. As a result, it may be inevitable that some forces will be less prepared to act -- and that, he said, would mean that in a crisis the president would have fewer options for protecting the nation's security interests.

"Just as overdependence on the military carries with it risks and consequences, letting our military strength atrophy would invite disaster," he said.

As it seeks to adjust and adapt, the Pentagon has been rethinking not only its priorities but also its policies and practices, Hagel said.

"This will require significant change across every aspect of our defense enterprise," he said.

In trying to strike a balance between military requirements and available resources, the Pentagon is going to reconsider its mix of active-duty and reserve forces as well as the mix of foreign-based and home-stationed troops, he said.

"In some cases we will make a shift, for example, by prioritizing a smaller, modern and capable military over a larger force with older equipment," he said.

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paintslinger wrote:
Laughable. Here we have the largest, most powerful military force in the history of mankind, a military presence in something like 130 countries...and he's warning of dangers if we don't keep up spending on that beast! This is totaly out of hand
on November 5,2013 | 07:10AM
allie wrote:
agree..but the military industrial complex wants more money. We need to make the defense establishment cut their fair share.
on November 5,2013 | 10:11AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
And we wonder why we are in such debt. Instead of spending billions of dollars to make our military presence known in other countries, we should be investing in our own people. A stronger people means a stronger country. It is sad when we cannot even take care of our own soldiers when they come home after being maimed. And that just goes hand in hand with our way of not caring for our own people who cannot even access health care. The only way you can get health care is if you are completely broke or because you have a job that offers a good coverage. Everyone else in between goes broke paying for the high costs of health insurance coverage or, as most do, go without. Instead of lining the pocket of other countries so that we can make our military presence known in their country we should be taking care of our own people.
on November 5,2013 | 11:35AM
DABLACK wrote:
So now the time to bring back all our troops and concentrate on protecting US, instead of sending our people to die on some far away country. Some countries that HATE us too !!
on November 5,2013 | 07:25AM
retire wrote:
on November 5,2013 | 07:41AM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 5,2013 | 07:57AM
Mythman wrote:
Pour me one of those Dewars, would you 2_sense
on November 5,2013 | 10:09AM
allie wrote:
huh? Obama is more Caucasian than most Hawaiians are
on November 5,2013 | 10:13AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Correct on the FEAR BEAST. Americans want guns, because they fear. When a country cultivates FEAR instead of CAUTION it creates chaos and more fear. Very vicious cycle.
on November 5,2013 | 10:22AM
Dolphin743 wrote:
Just remember that waiting for the fight to come to us is what resulted in 9/11/01. If you're willing to accept that consequence again, then your idea makes sense. Today's bad actors that will come and kill Americans are no longer tied to governments and borders. Pretending that we can make some special forcefield around our borders and thus "keep the military home" is fanciful. Also, our military engagement with dozens of countries around the world has resulted in more stable governments in almost all cases. In the most difficult cases of Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan, the governments we are working with are very deeply flawed, and it will take a very long time to nurse them to the point where they are stable and reliable actors on the world stage. The "hatred" you speak of primarily comes from the oppressors who are losing power.
on November 5,2013 | 08:47AM
Slow wrote:
Sorry, Dolphin743, but the U.S. does not run the world. We tried and hasn't worked so well. Let's name some of those "dozens of countries" where our military has improved matters. Guatemala? Haiti? Viet Nam? Iraq? Grenada? Philippines? Somalia? Libya? Micronesia? Please tell Uncle Sam that there are two kinds of business: your business and none of your business. "Today's bad actors" is us, my friend. We do far more killing than any one else. Our military is huge. It sucks our resources terribly. How big should it be, Dolphin? Over 50,000 in Germany. Why? Terrorism? Nazis? Russia? Why? We have military, according to Wikipedia, in 150 of 192 nations. Would we tolerate Pakistani drones flying around our country murdering bad guys? Of course not. But we're good; they are bad. Life can be so simple, to the simple minded.
on November 5,2013 | 09:37AM
HD36 wrote:
How did Wortld Trade Tower #7 collapse? It wasn't hit by anything and was a good five blocks away. It came down like a controlled demolition. It was also the Pentagon accounting office. $2.7 trillion dollars went missing. All the evidence went missing. The acountants died. Yet nothing hit this building. Why wasn't this building included in the 9/11 commision investigation? Just wondering.
on November 5,2013 | 02:14PM
allie wrote:
agree totally. Start with israel and Saudi Arabia. Let them pay for their own wars. Why should we serve their interests. As for Germany, make them pay for their own defense and withdraw all US troops now!
on November 5,2013 | 10:12AM
pcman wrote:
History shows that adversaries and/or foreign countries build up their war reserves as America phases down its active war fighting capabilities. At some point in time, a foreign country's leadership will estimate that their war fighting operations are too far away, too politically insignificant or too large to warrant any response from America. Unfortunately, America's leadership has always decided to respond at a time when we had inadequate forces, outdated weaponry, insufficient logistics capabilities and lack of appropriate war fighting products manufacturing capabilities. Until a buildup of forces, weapons and logistics is completed, the entry into a war has resulted in extremely high losses of American and allied forces. World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War are such examples. The only war the US kept ahead of its potential adversary in forces, weapons and war materiel production and won with minimal loss of forces was the Cold War. The phasedown of forces in the decade before 9/11 the greater was the surprise attack, the loss of life, and the need to build up forces to fight the global war on terrorists. The lesson learned is that the larger any cutback of military capabilities from a previous war, the greater the impact of any surprise attack on the US and the losses of next war. Secretary of Defense Hagel has a tough job to pass this message on to the President, Congress and the people.
on November 5,2013 | 07:37AM
Slow wrote:
Apparently history taught us each different lessons. 9/11 happened because our military was not big enough? Completely erroneous. More "forces, weapons and logistics" (whatever that means) would have seen us prevail in Viet Nam? Absolutely the opposite of the truth. Remember? We had Agent Orange, napalm, B-52's raining bombs, and a huge deployment of troops. What did the Viet Cong have over us? Something like courage, pride and morality. And they won. What did we win in Iraq? What are we winning in Afghanistan? Oh, what the heck, NUKE EM ALL!
on November 5,2013 | 09:46AM
Mythman wrote:
Viet Nam? Don't you remember? Congress cut funding. Then we had the "War" on Poverty of the "Great Society". Joe Stalin was laughing at us from the place where all good dead commies go.
on November 5,2013 | 10:13AM
WKAMA wrote:
Viet Nam war was a sorry situation. It never had the full backing of the American people, was done half heartedly by the, President, Congress and the military with limited objectives. Lots of lives loss for what? Now Viet Nam is a tourist attraction.
on November 5,2013 | 10:51AM
Slow wrote:
Mythman is a darn good monicker. You cling to thoroughly debunked myths. Even Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense from 1961-68 admitted "we were wrong, terribly wrong" in our tragic war in Viet Nam. A local friend is a Viet Nam vet. He said they caught a teenager on the Ho Chi Minh supply trail carrying a single artillery shell on his shoulders. They tried to coerce/convince him to join our side. He turned, faced my friend eye to eye and said, "Why are you in my country?" My friend has been haunted by that question ever since. Please don't trot out the domino theory. More weapons possibly could have laid nuclear waste to Hanoi. More napalm, Agent Orange and more B-52 bombing runs could have killed lots of South Viet Namese. But you have a point. Death to a country or Head Start for our kids? You have clung to a tragic choice.. .
on November 5,2013 | 12:42PM
HD36 wrote:
The US was racking up so much debt from the war other countries started turn there dollars in for gold. Then on August 17th 1971 , Nixon closed the gold window and in effect defaulted on our debt. The inflation rate shot up and we blamed OPEC for raising oil prices when in effect it was our dollar falling. Paul Volcker had to raise rates up to 21% on the 10yr Tnx in order to save the currency from collapse. Fast foreward to today, and if rates rise to their historical average of 6% on the 10yr, the payments to service the $17 trillion dollar debt will eclipse the entire millitary budget. The greatest threat to our national security comes from within.
on November 5,2013 | 02:22PM
allie wrote:
love my mythman when we agree
on November 5,2013 | 10:14AM
Slow wrote:
Glad you agree, Mandan. The US Army has a wonderful history slaughtering the tribes of the Americas.
on November 5,2013 | 12:46PM
aomohoa wrote:
What about the insane ridiculous Black Budget!
on November 5,2013 | 08:05AM
Dolphin743 wrote:
You sound like you know a lot about it. Any thoughts on how much $$ you think is being wasted? Any idea what the results of using the money are? The primary reason to keep programs "black" is because they are asymmetrical: relatively big gain for relatively low cost. There are processes in place to provide oversight to those programs. While not perfect, they do keep the focus on getting a good return for the money spent.
on November 5,2013 | 08:54AM
Mythman wrote:
Love the X37B etc
on November 5,2013 | 10:14AM
allie wrote:
on November 5,2013 | 10:14AM
Slow wrote:
Your naive faith in your oppressor is kinda cute. Wanna give uncle a kiss yet?
on November 5,2013 | 12:48PM
jbguzior wrote:
two things: It's morally unethical to send an American into combat without the proper training It's high time we ask more of these so called "partners" to step up physically and economically in helping to ensure security and stability in the world. We can no longer be the world's policemen.
on November 5,2013 | 08:24AM
pcman wrote:
IRT jbguzior on policeman. We police the world because we have international and global national interests. That is, our economy depends on international trade. We depend on natural resources from all over the world to make and build what we want and need. We sell to trading partners what we produce. Of course, now we buy a lot of finished products from foreign countries, a la Wall Mart. In addition to defending our investments in the countries where we get our resources, we have to defend the seas and air through which we transport the resources and our products. We have to protect millions of citizens who live and work around the world to develop, mine or obtain the resources and others who sell our products. We have to protect millions of travelers, students, educators, businessmen, government personnel, military personnel, foreign contractors and their families who live and work overseas. America is the only country that can guarantee their safety and ensure they can help us to pursue our lives, liberty and happiness. This is done through our military strength which also defends our country from enemies who want to destroy us and our way of life. None of our allies can guarantee us anything, even in their own countries. It costs us 5% of our gross domestic product, which is about what an average family spends for insurance.
on November 5,2013 | 09:09AM
Slow wrote:
So we police the world because of our "national interests?" So we run the world in our self-interest. Because we are bigger than the rest of the world, right? The US spends 39% of the world's military expenditures (see Wikipedia). No other country is in double digits. By your alleged logic, we have to place military all over the world to protect "millions of travelers, students, educators, businessmen, government personnel, military personnel, foreign contractors and their families who live and work overseas." Cool. Do they get to send their military here to protect their citizens who do the same here?
on November 5,2013 | 09:56AM
allie wrote:
agree with slow today!
on November 5,2013 | 10:14AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
So we buy from Walmart,aka China, and we need to protect our interest? Lol.
on November 5,2013 | 10:14AM
ghstar wrote:
While the US is bankrupting itself policing the world, the Chinese are busy spending their US dollars buying our most valuable businesses, land, and resources around the world. In a few years they won't need to attack the US militarily, they will own enough of it and the world's oil, gas, and minerals to be able to pretty much have their way. We are selling America to pay for military hardware, and consumer goodies from Asia, and the Chinese are using those dollars to invest in productive resources around the world. Who do you think is going be stronger in 50 years?
on November 5,2013 | 11:59AM
Waimanalodayz1 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 5,2013 | 08:37AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Lol,was wondering when the religious haters and US leader haters were going to crawl out.
on November 5,2013 | 10:12AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I support the military that I once served in. On the other hand, I know that the military is one of the worse when it comes to spending money foolishly. Like all other bloated government departments, they operate on the spend or lose policy. There is no doubt in my mind, none, that the military can find billions of dollars in what it current wastes.
on November 5,2013 | 09:54AM
sailfish1 wrote:
The U.S. will be better off economically and have more friends in the world if we quit interfering in other countries' affairs, stop putting our military all over the globe, and stop creating wars. Let the other countries buy our weapons and fight their own battles.
on November 5,2013 | 10:35AM
ghstar wrote:
If you are going to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap, you, by definition, have to cut the large programs. You can't do it by cutting back maintenance at the national parks, reducing school lunch programs, or cutting food stamps. Two areas the are screaming for cut back have to be corporate welfare and defense. Maybe we could get by with troops in only 50 countries? How about 6 instead of 12 or 13 aircraft carrier groups? Perhaps the intelligence organizations could cut back to 2005 levels? Maybe Lockheed Martin and the Air Force could forego the SR-72? The Defense Department doesn't have to more with less; it should figure out how to do less with less, but do those things well.
on November 5,2013 | 11:48AM
WhyBother wrote:
Whether you think the military is too big or not big enough, it's apparent this administration is already weakening defense and the services. Much of that is related to the poor economy and economic outlook, along with alienating former friendly "regimes" (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia), but weak leadership is a major factor.
on November 5,2013 | 01:52PM
HD36 wrote:
I think we can agree that most presidents don't know jack about the economy.
on November 5,2013 | 02:24PM
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