Defense

October 21, 2013

Shutdown effects continue on Defense Department, Hagel says

The government shutdown is over, but it will take a while for the effects to fade, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a press conference Oct 17.

At the shutdown’s height, more than 400,000 Defense Department civilian employees were furloughed because of the lapse of appropriations for the new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. The Pay Our Military Act allowed the department to bring most back to work Oct. 7. The rest – about 5,000 – came back to work Oct. 17.

“While all of us across the department welcome the fact that the shutdown is now behind us, I know that its impact will continue to be felt by all of our people,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference. “All of them, in different ways, had their lives affected and disrupted during this period of tremendous uncertainty.”

All DOD leaders will work to repair the damage from the shutdown, the secretary vowed.

“I want all of our civilian personnel to know that the work they do is critically important to this department and this country,” Hagel said. “It matters to this department, and it matters for the country. The military simply cannot succeed without our civilian employees, and the president and I appreciate their professionalism and their patience throughout this very trying period.”

While the department must refocus on critical work, Hagel noted, Congress did not remove the shadow of uncertainty cast over DOD.

“DOD is now operating on a short-term continuing resolution, which limits our ability to start new programs, and the damaging cuts of sequestration remain the law of the land,” the secretary said.

The continuing resolution passed last night gives Congress the chance to craft a balanced long-term spending bill, Hagel said.

“If this fiscal uncertainty continues, it will have an impact on our economy, our national security, and America’s standing in the world,” he added. “If the sequester level continues, there will also be consequences.” The cuts could be devastating to training and to maintaining and equipping the force, he said.

“DOD has a responsibility to give America’s elected leaders and the American people a clear-eyed assessment of what our military can and cannot do after years of sequester-level cuts,” Hagel said. “In the months ahead, we will continue to provide our best and most honest assessment as Congress works to establish the nation’s long-term spending priorities.”

The secretary said he is concerned about civilian morale.

“I don’t think anyone questions that the uncertainty that shutting down the government and closing down people’s jobs has brought a great amount of not only disruption to our government, to our country, but to their lives, to the civilian personnel whose lives have been disrupted by this particular shutdown,” he said.

Combined with no authorization, no appropriation, continuing sequestration and the uncertainty of planning, this creates a perfect stew for bad morale, Hagel said.

“People have to have some confidence that they have a job that they can rely on,” he explained. “I know there are no guarantees in life, but we can’t continue to do this to our people – having them live under this cloud of uncertainty.”

If this continues, he added, DOD will not be able to recruit good people. The government shutdown and the nation’s debt limit problem are making American allies nervous as well, the secretary said.

“Our allies are asking questions: Can we rely on our partnership with America? Will America fulfill its commitments and its promises?” he said. “These are huge issues for all of us, and they do impact our national security and our relationships and our standing in the world.”




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


 
 

 

Acquisition community works to improve tradecraft

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its tradecraft, Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said April 16. McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Associations National Logistics Forum. Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times,...
 
 
B1a

B-1B software upgrade to ensure future warfighting capabilities

Air Force photograph by Ethan Wagner An Edwards B-1B Lancer takes off on April 1, 2014, to begin testing its new Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades. The SB 16A software will work in conjunction with the long-range bomberĂ­...
 
 

45th Space Wing launches NRO Satellite on board Atlas V

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:45 p.m. April 10 carrying a classified national security payload. The payload was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. “I am proud of the persistence and focus of the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Smarter spending for Air Force acquisitions

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello briefs attendees April 16, 2014, on how today’s budget environment is driving change for both government and industry as part of the Air Force Associati...
 
 
DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

U.S., Poland defense leaders find new areas for cooperation

DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. Amid deep concerns about...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge

Air Force researchers test Google Glass for battlefield use

Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge Dr. Gregory Burnett, middle, and Andres Calvo, right, analyze a graphic representation of movement trackers, as 2nd Lt. Krystin Shanklin tests Google Glass at Wright-Patterson Air Force ...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>