The Pentagon plans to share details this week of its extensive review of how its budget would be impacted by budget cuts.
“We will provide some information that you’ve all been seeking on this process later this week,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday about the so-called Strategic Choices and Management Review.
The release of information likely will come before a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing Thursday morning, which is specifically on the strategic review, Little told reporters at the Pentagon.
The HASC hearing is on the “initial conclusions” of the review, and will include testimony from Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld, according to the committee.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the strategic-choices review after the $500 billion in decade-long “sequestration” budget cuts started March 1 (Defense Daily, March 19). Led by Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the budget analysis looked at future Pentagon spending under multiple scenarios, including if the full sequestration cuts continue.
Little said Monday that Pentagon officials were still weighing “precisely what we’ll share and how that will all unfold publicly.”
Hagel indicated last week that the strategic-choices will spur budget recommendations he will make to the White House.
“Going forward, informed by the Strategic Choices and Management Review that I initiated four months ago, the (Defense) Department will prioritize how we match missions to resources,” Hagel told the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Louisville on July 22. “The president must be assured that the options we present to him, the options he has to protect our country and defend our national interests, are ready and real.”
Hagel said if lawmakers can’t agree on an alternate budget-cutting plan to sequestration, that Pentagon officials “have to prepare our institution for whatever comes ahead.” As a result of the strategic-choices review, he and Dempsey already have agreed to cut their headquarters’ staffs by 20 percent.
The new revelations about the Pentagon’s strategic-choices review will come this week as Congress’ plans for the fiscal year 2014 Pentagon budget will become more clear. The Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee plans to mark up its version of the defense appropriations bill Tuesday, and the full committee is scheduled to approve the legislation Thursday.
The Republican-run House passed its version of that military budget-setting bill last week. The White House, though, said Obama could veto that $512.5 billion spending plan because it adheres to a GOP budget plan he opposes.
The House also has already passed the policy-setting defense authorization bill for FY ’14, which starts Oct. 1. The Obama administration similarly has balked at that legislation, which would authorize the same level of spending as the appropriations measure.
The Democrat-led Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its rival version of that authorization legislation–which would authorize a $526.5 billion base defense budget along with military-construction funding–though the full Senate has not taken it up. Congress is slated to start its summer recess next week, and not reconvene until the second week of September.