Carter: Military strategic review near completion

Department of Defense (DOD) officials have combed through nearly one-third of all the programs and policies included in the Obama administration's long-term military strategy approved last year, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the review of the plan in March, in order to account for the across-the-board cuts included in the sequester. 

The review, according to Carter, represents "a clear delineation of choices we may [have to] make" in the face of sequestration. 

With sequestration, $41 billion will be cut in 2013 and $500 billion could be reduced in the next decade, which senior military leaders have said would require the Pentagon to change its new strategy and scale back ambitions.

DOD did get a reprieve from those cuts in its war funding accounts, with Congress considering a plan to allow military leaders to move $7.5 billion from its base budget and move that into war spending, Carter said Tuesday. 

He also noted that a large portion of those programs and policies under review in the White House's strategy are "in reasonably good shape" and will likely remain, in spite of sequester. 

However, some of those efforts "at the extreme range" of the Pentagon's military capabilities need some work to fit into the department's new fiscal reality, Carter added. 

Hagel's ambitious, hard-nosed realignment plan for the DOD will entail "change that involves not just tweaking or chipping away at existing structures and practices but where necessary fashioning entirely new ones that are better suited to 21st century realities and challenges," he said during a speech about the plan in April. 

That said, the Pentagon chief admitted that many of the changes he's looking to usher into the department will be "politically impossible." 

Carter declined to comment on whether the results of the ongoing strategic review will end up being overruled by Congress. 

The DOD review and the budget cuts under sequestration that prompted it represents "the collateral damage of political gridlock," Carter said. 

"We are taking unnecessary risks," he added. "It's an unfortunate thing . . . [but] we have to be ready in case it does happen." 

Please send tips and comments to Jeremy Herb, jherb@thehill.com, and Carlo Muñoz, cmunoz@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @DEFCONHill, @JHerbTheHill, @CMunozTheHill

Sign up to receive overnight updates via email here.