Dissecting the Pentagon’s Strategic Choices and Management Review
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently summarized the results of his Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR), an internal Pentagon process designed to assist the Department of Defense as it plans for a future period of uncertain and significantly constrained defense spending. Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter also provided Congressional testimony on the subject. The review explored how the Pentagon might deal with at least two possible budget scenarios: the president’s own long-term plan, which calls for another $150 billion in ten-year defense savings beyond those mandated initially in the 2011 Budget Control Act, and the possibility that sequestration will stay in effect for a decade, requiring a full $500 billion in additional defense cuts relative to the same baseline.
On August 6, the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings hosted a discussion on the usefulness of the SCMR as an analytical product which clarifies the kinds of changes that will be needed in the future, while also examining plans within it that may not be prudent. Panelists included Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, author of Healing the Wounded Giant: Maintaining Military Preeminence While Cutting the Defense Budget (Brookings, 2013). Marvin Kalb, nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, moderated the event.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.