Defense

August 23, 2013

U.S. military will remain strong despite budget cuts, Hagel tells Hawaii Marines

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel assured Marines and sailors in Hawaii Aug. 22 that despite deep budget and force cuts, the U.S. military will remain the world’s best, and the nation will honor the commitments it has made to them.

Hagel kicked off a four-nation trip to Southeast Asia with a troop talk at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

The secretary told the service members they are an integral to the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, and he recognized the pivotal role they play in strengthening alliances and partnerships across the region.

“You are at the cutting edge of security, of stability and prosperity,” he told the assembled group. “You are all a part of it, at the front end of it, the cutting edge of it. And what you do and how you do it is particularly important as to how the world sees America and how they view our interests, but probably more importantly, how they view our intentions.”

When the secretary opened the floor to questions, he was asked about the impact of budget reductions and sequestration on military readiness and credibility and retirement and educational benefits.

Hagel said he and other Defense Department leaders have been honest and direct with Congress and the American people about the national security implications of large budget cuts.

He expressed concern about the size of the budget and force reductions and uncertainty about future funding levels. These factors, and the speed with which cuts are taking place, give the DOD leaders “very little flexibility in the tough decisions that are going to have to be made,” he said.

Even with these challenges, the secretary emphasized that the U.S. military remains the world’s best.

“Even with these cuts – and they are severe, and they may be even more severe – there is no question that America has the most significant military capability in the world,” he assured the service members.

“There is no military even close to this military,” he said, a point he said the United States has made its friends, allies and adversaries alike.

“We are not without resources. We are not without capability,” Hagel said. “You can measure that by any metric,” most notably by the men and women in uniform.

“You are the best-trained, the smartest, the best-led, most professional military force this country has ever had,” Hagel told the group. He lauded the noncommissioned officer corps that he said stands head and shoulders above all others. “No other armed force in the world, no one is even close to having an enlisted NCO corps like we have in our institution,” he said.

The secretary also noted the U.S. military’s technological superiority and a budget, that even with deep reductions, remains sizeable.

“When you look at the balance sheet here, we are going to be the best, most capable, strongest military force in the world for a long time to come,” he said.

Strategic choices being made today will help ensure that continues into the future, Hagel said.

“I think this is going to make you stronger,” he said, expressing confidence in America’s people, its values and its military. “We will come out of this stronger than we went in,” he said.

Asked about the future of military retirement benefits, Hagel acknowledged that the current path is fiscally unsustainable for the long term.

“That doesn’t mean we are going to cut off retirement benefits,” he made clear. “For all of you, when you retire, your benefits should not be impacted by whatever tough choices we are going to have to make.”

Hagel said he would not “play games” and tell service members that the benefits will increase. “They probably aren’t going to increase,” he said. “But you are not going to be hurt.”

Minor adjustments may be required in areas such as TRICARE premiums for retired military members, he said. “If we make some adjustments now and we are smart, then we can adjust what we need to adjust and assure that the benefits that you have earned, that we promised, are going to be there,” he said.

Asked by a Marine about Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, the secretary, who cosponsored the enacting legislation while serving in the Senate, said he will fight to keep it intact.

“It’s the right thing to do for our people…It is a smart investment in our country, a smart investment in you and your families,” he said. “Education cannot be disconnected from security [and] from the future of our country. So we will do everything we can to protect [it].”

Hagel will continue his Southeast Asia trip tomorrow, with stops scheduled in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 31, 2015

News: Carter: Military leaders could arm more troops at home – Following the recent fatal shooting of four Marines and a sailor in Tennessee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter is ordering the military services to consider new policies that would enhance security for troops at home, including potentially arming more personnel.   Business: DOD weighs supplier base,...
 
 

News Briefs July 31, 2015

U.S. delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt The United States Embassy in Cairo says the U.S. is delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt as part of an ongoing military support package. It says in a July 30 statement that the aircraft, of the current Block 52 production variant, will be flown in from...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin successfully tests design changes for Orion spacecraft’s fairing separation system

Lockheed Martin photograph A protective panel for Orion’s service module is jettisoned during testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California facility. This test series evaluated design changes to the spacecraft’s fair...
 

 

Australian company to provide parts for initial production of Triton UAS

Northrop Grumman has awarded the first Australian supplier contract for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system initial production lot to Ferra Engineering. Brisbane-based Ferra Engineering will manufacture mechanical sub-assemblies for the first four Triton air vehicles including structural components. “At Northrop Grumman it’s very important to not only develop...
 
 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Insitu awarded LRIP Lot IV RQ-21A Blackjack Systems contract

Under the terms of its latest contract, Insitu will build six RQ-21A Blackjack systems for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The $78-million Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Lot IV Low Rate Initial Production contract is the latest event in the program’s progression toward the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation phase.   “This award will...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>