Hagel: Shutdown hurting America's credibility abroad


Pentagon officials are furloughing nearly all of the department's civilian workforce, severely curtailing day-to-day U.S. military operations and bringing any plans for new business contracts as a result of the government shutdown. 

The Pentagon's shutdown plan, drafted by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and released Friday, closely follows the Defense Department contingency blueprint issued by military leaders in anticipation of the last shutdown threat in 2011.

Despite those sharp reductions, department and service leaders will continue to carry out "essential operations in the absence of appropriated funds," Carter said in a memorandum Friday.

But the Pentagon is still furloughing roughly half of its 800,000 civilian employees at facilities across the United States.

Service members will not be furloughed, and Congress passed a bill on Monday hours before the shutdown that was signed by President Obama and allows them to be paid while the government is shut down.

That loss of manpower will have an effect on how the U.S. military meets its national security goals, according to Hagel.

"When you take that number of civilian employees out of the mix of every day planning and working ... you're going to impact readiness. You're going to impact a mission. There's no point in kidding about that," the Pentagon chief said. 

"There's no question [the shutdown] impacts our mission," Hagel said. 

However, Hagel reiterated that even with the reductions caused by the shutdown, national security will not be sacrificed. 

"America should not be concerned that their security is now in jeopardy. It is not. It will not be," he said. 

While American military leaders will continue to meet national security priorities, Hagel expressed little hope the shutdown would end anytime soon. 

"I do have confidence in almost a uniquely American self-correction process. We can fix our own problems, and we always have — doesn't mean we always will," he said.

But Hagel also said the shutdown is the end result of a Congress that has "lost an appreciation for governing."

"I think most people who hold public office regardless of their party or their philosophical persuasion ... have some appreciation and obligation, responsibility, for governing, actually governing," said Hagel, who served two terms as a Republican senator from Nebraska. "We've lost a good amount of that. That has changed." 

That change, Hagel added, has not only prompted the current shutdown crisis but has clearly signaled that Congress "has lost [their] way." 

"No democracy can govern itself without consensus and compromise. It is impossible. And we seem to have lost that," the Pentagon chief said. "We have seemed to have lost our way in that being an objective of governing."