Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for the Defense Department to be organized more efficiently than it was under Ronald Reagan after raising the possibility of cuts in pay and benefits for military members.

Hagel blamed the prospective cuts on sequestration. “[F]iscal realities demand another hard look at personnel – how many people we have both military and civilian, how many we need, what these people do, and how we compensate them for their work, service, and loyalty with pay, benefits and health care,” Hagel said at the National Defense University today.

He also hinted at cutting jobs for military brass. “The last major defense re-organization, Goldwater-Nichols, was drafted at the height of the Reagan defense buildup and focused on improving jointness and establishing clear operational chains of command,” Hagel said.  “Cost and efficiency were not major considerations . . . Today the operational forces of the military – measured in battalions, ships, and aircraft wings – have shrunk dramatically since the Cold War era.  Yet the three and four star command and support structures sitting atop these smaller fighting forces have stayed intact, with minor exceptions, and in some cases they are actually increasing in size and rank.”

Hagel devoted much of the speech to discussing how to cut military spending, but argued against withdrawal from the world.

“America does not have the luxury of retrenchment – we have too many global interests at stake, including our security, our prosperity, and our future,” he said in conclusion. “We have made mistakes and miscalculations with our great power.  But as history has advanced, America has helped make a better world for all people with its power.  A world where America does not lead is not the world I wish my children to inherit.”