PENTAGON — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled a new budget that includes deep cuts in weapons programs, the civilian workforce and infrastructure.
Only hours after President Barack Obama announced his budget plan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled his own spending blueprint, which he says reflects a state of financial uncertainty for the Pentagon.
Hagel said the new $526 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year will include cuts in the civilian workforce, poorly performing weapons systems, and possible base closings.
“Fiscal realities demand that we make tough decisions that have been deferred in the past. The longer we put this off, the harder it’s going to be, particularly given the uncertainty that still exists about future levels of defense spending," he said.
With cuts that mean tens of thousands of lost jobs across the department and in areas where bases would be closed or consolidated, analysts say the plan is not likely to pass in Congress. But they say it may provide the Pentagon leverage to break a budgetary impasse that exists between the Obama administration and Congress because it provides lawmakers a clear plan of direction.
While cutting spending in some areas, the plan includes boosting expenditures in things like attack submarines and cyber security - both key components of the administration’s plan to rebalance its focus to the Asia-Pacific region.
Some analysts warn the continuing news about money problems at the Pentagon are eroding American credibility overseas.
Travis Sharp is a defense analyst with the Center for a New American Security, a Washington research organization with ties to the Obama administration.
“I think the reductions in defense spending are going to make some of our allies and potential adversaries question whether or not we can actually do what we say we’re going to do," he said.
The budget announcement came as tensions continue to rise on the Korean peninsula, where the U.S. and its allies are watching for an expected missile launch by the North Koreans.
In his remarks Wednesday, Secretary Hagel said North Korea is “skating very close to a dangerous line” by continuing its threats. He said Pyongyang should ratchet down its rhetoric, but added that if it does not, the U.S. is fully prepared to deal with “any contingency.”