Hagel also criticized the war in Afghanistan as a conflict that is not sustainable.
“We’ve lost sight totally of the mission in Afghanistan. Talk about mission creep, this is the definition of mission creep. This is a complete rebuilding of a country, so my point is, and I don’t blame the military for this,” Hagel said. “They were charged by the Congress, by the presidents, by the administrations to do all this, and they needed the resources to do it.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of bloat in the Pentagon, and that has to be scaled back, but the mission drives that, but the resources drive the mission too, and we know that you can’t sustain this. We know that the American public want out. We know that the Congress want out, and that’s going to require bringing down that budget, and the prioritisation of our military itself.”
The former member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded by saying the Department of Defense “always” avoids cutting its budget by claiming that “national defense” cannot be touched.
“I don’t think that our military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically in a long, long time,” Hagel said. “Every agency needs to do that. The Department of Defense, and I’m a strong supporter of this Department of Defense, the Department of Defense always gets off by saying, ‘Well, this is national security. You can’t touch national defense.’”
“Well, no American wants to in any way hurt our capabilities to national defense, but that doesn’t mean an unlimited amount of money, and a blank check for anything they want at any time, for any purpose. Not at all. Not at all, and so the realities are that the mess we’re in this country, with our debt and our deficits, and our infrastructure and jobless and all the rest, is going to require everybody to take a look, even the Defense Department, and make a pretty hard re-evaluation and review.”