The review, which is due by the end of May, will frame the secretary’s guidance for the 2015 fiscal year budget and be the foundation for the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated assessment of the major strategic choices and challenges facing the U.S. military.
Defense officials have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks about the need to re-examine the defense strategy as it has become clear that Congress and the White House may be unable to reach a deal to avert $500 billion in defense cuts over the next decade.
The defense strategy approved in January 2012 called for a shift in strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region following more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The new strategy coincided with the implementation of $487 billion in cuts to the defense budget over a decade that began last year.
SECOND ROUND OF CUTS
The strategy did not take into account a second round of $500 billion in budget cuts that went into effect on March 1. Defense officials had hoped that Congress and the White House would agree to a deal to avert those cuts, but a compromise never materialized.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Facebook post last week that as a result of the long-term uncertainty posed by the budget cuts, he had “begun to reassess what our military strategy should be.”
Speaking on Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, Dempsey said he did not know if the defense strategy would have to change much as a result of the continuing budget cuts.
“But I predict it will,” he said. “We’ll need to relook our assumptions and need to adjust our ambitions to match our abilities. And that means doing less, but not doing less well.”