If still in effect in Fiscal 2014, the budget sequester would require the Pentagon to cut approximately $52 billion from the Obama Administration’s $526.6 billion funding request for that fiscal year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Senate defense overseers. “The bottom line: with or without flexibility, administering a $52 billion cut would have severe and unacceptable effects,” wrote Hagel in the July 10 letter to the lawmakers outlining a high-level summary of DOD’s contingency plan for that scenario. Among the actions, the Pentagon would be forced, for the second fiscal year in a row, to “impose hiring freezes and sharply reduce facilities maintenance,” and would have to “consider involuntary reductions-in-force to reduce civilian personnel costs,” states the missive. Funding shortfalls also “would likely require disproportionately large cuts” in DOD’s investment accounts, with “cuts of 15 to 20 percent” common, wrote Hagel. To help remedy the budget impasse that has led to the sequester, Hagel urged the lawmakers to do their part “in ending business-as-usual practices—in areas such as infrastructure, benefits, and procurement—that would otherwise require further cuts to readiness, modernization, and combat power.” The senators in May requested this information from Hagel since the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2014 budget request, submitted to Congress in April, did not factor sequestration, but rather included the White House’s less-severe “balanced deficit reduction proposals”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.