Mt. Vernon Register-News

April 11, 2013

Chuck Hagel's view on the 'bloated' Pentagon, budget has changed

The Register-News

---- — When he was asked in 2011 about the possible impact of the sequestration on defense, Chuck Hagel breezily replied that the Pentagon was “bloated” and “needs to be pared down.” In his first major speech as defense secretary on Wednesday, Mr. Hagel’s assessment was considerably more sober. The $41 billion cut the department is taking this year, he said, “is already having a disruptive and potentially damaging impact on the readiness of the force.” He added that he would not “assume or tacitly accept” that “these cuts can be accommodated without a significant reduction in military capabilities.”

Still, Mr. Hagel is looking at the possibility of a major new drop in defense spending as an opportunity. He is right, up to a point: There is plenty of waste in the Pentagon budget.