After some prepared remarks to U.S. troops at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ended with a single question by an unidentified reporter about ” the biggest challenge facing the Department of Defense?”
What the Secretary said was very interesting:
“QUESTION: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary, — (inaudible) — Whittaker. And the question I have for you today is, besides the budget constraints, what you believe is the biggest challenge facing the Department of Defense?
SEC. HAGEL: Well, the budget constraints are a part of it. But I think — which connects into the budget constraints — is the uncertainty. The uncertainty that we are living with your commanders, your chiefs, your senior civilian leaders on how to plan, what will the resources be? Will they be available?
We are restructuring our forces. We are coming out of the second long war that this country has been in in the last 12 years. In fact, it’s the longest war this country has ever been in.
So we do need to realign and we do need to consolidate and restructure. And that to — to a certain extent would happen, whether there were sequestration or not. But all these dynamics and forces and uncertainties in the world, at a time the world really counts on us — our partners count on us, it makes it more difficult for our commanders. And it makes it more difficult for you.
And I — I know, uncertainty is the worst thing that you can have hanging over you because on a personal level, you have questions about your own futures — (End Audio transmission).”
Source: DOD News Transcript http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5339
See related video: Hagel Discusses Budget Constraints at Change of Command Ceremony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3j88QYUKy4
See also video: Hagel urges rethink of budget cuts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3_Z87gUllE