Hagel Calls for Sweeping Overhaul of Military Structure

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel used his first major policy address to call for a sweeping overhaul of military structure. During a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Hagel said the Defense Department must make sure it’s “realistically confronting” its “strategic and fiscal challenges.” That will require much more than “tweaking past practices,” he said. Instead, military leaders must be “steely eyed and clear-headed” as they “explore the full range of options.” Hagel said any effort to “reform and reshape our defense enterprise,” must first “confront the principal drivers of growth in the Department’s base budget—namely acquisitions, personnel costs, and overhead.” As Pentagon officials debate tough questions, such as the proper officer-to-enlisted ratio throughout the force, defense watchers also can expect to see a “close scrutiny of DOD’s organizational chart and command structures, most of which date back to the early years of the Cold War,” said Hagel. “The last major defense reorganization, Goldwater-Nichols, was drafted at the height of the Reagan defense buildup and focused on improving jointness and establishing clear operational chains of command. Cost and efficiency were not major considerations,” he said during the April 3 speech. (Hagel speech transcript)