Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out his strategic vision for a smaller, more technologically advanced military force that will play a supporting role to foreign policy, in contrast to the last decade in which foreign policy was dominated by 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As we go forward into a historically unpredictable world, we will need to place more of an emphasis on our civilian instruments of power, while adapting our military so that it remains strong, capable, second to none and relevant in the face of threats markedly different from what shaped it during the Cold War and over the past two decades,” Mr. Hagel said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ 2013 Global Security Forum.
“Military force must always remain an option, but it should be an option of last resort. The military should always play a supporting role, not the leading role, in America’s foreign policy,” he said.
Citing the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia, Mr. Hagel said the U.S. military should continue to play a stabilizing role in the region but should be led by diplomatic, economic, trade and cultural initiatives.
He added, however, that letting military strength atrophy would invite disaster, and criticized spending cuts due to trim $500 billion from the defense budget over the next decade in addition to the $500 billion military spending reduction called for by the Budget Control Act.
“These cuts are too fast, too much, too abrupt, and too irresponsible,” the defense secretary said. “DoD cannot responsibly, efficiently and effectively plan, strategize and implement national security policies with this cloud of uncertainty continuing to hang over it.”