Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will announce the results of the Strategic Choices and Management Review in a press briefing on Wednesday, Defense One has learned, the culmination of a months-long assessment by senior Pentagon officials of how sequestration will affect the department in the coming years. In the briefing, Hagel will present three options for how the Defense Department can proceed under a new era of defense spending cuts, according to a defense official.
Hagel ordered the review after the Budget Control Act of 2011 took effect on March 1, just days after he took office. At the time, the move was criticized as an exercise that was duplicative of recent Pentagon strategy reviews, or as a stall tactic to force Congress to lift sequester and get back to regular budgeting. But the defense official said the SCMR [pronounced “skimmer”] was a serious assessment by the nation’s highest defense and military leadership. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey led the review, held nearly twenty 90-minute meetings with senior-level staff, including a mix of military commanders, policy makers, budget experts and legislative experts. Those meetings led to 33 subject areas, or “what the team called ‘building blocks’ that guided the options for the cuts,” the official said.
“Many of these guys who were part of this effort were part of [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates’ effort. They dove deeper than ever before. This was kind of new ground for a lot of them.”