On Tuesday of this week I joined a group of analysts and journalists at the Pentagon to discuss the Obama Administration’s proposed fiscal 2015 military budget with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. One thing that quickly became apparent in that meeting was that Hagel thinks the 2011 Budget Control Act capping annual military expenditures was destructive and irresponsible. Without relief from the spending caps, Hagel fears that his department could end up with a “hollow” force — especially given the unwillingness of Congress to approve trims to activities valued by home-state constituents. One solution to this problem would be to shrink the size of legislatively-mandated reductions in the law, an idea the administration is pursuing through proposed annual increases in defense spending authority averaging $28 billion per year through 2019. Hagel knows he has a tough selling job ahead of him, but he is an uncommonly persuasive leader who is committed to getting warfighters what they need to be prepared for future fights. I have written a commentary on his budget approach for Forbes here.
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