Ex-Air Force Chief to Lead Effort to Slash Defense Headquarters Operations

Former Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley Former Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley Carolyn Kaster/AP

Former Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley will lead a review of the organizational structure of the Office of the Secretary of Defense aimed at slashing its budget and cutting the number of people who report directly to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Specifically, the Pentagon announced Tuesday, the review would focus on cutting the OSD headquarters budget by 20 percent and “reducing the number of direct reports to the Secretary of Defense by further consolidating functions within OSD, as well as eliminating positions.”

Hagel announced the effort to cut headquarters operations on July 31, when he unveiled the results of his Strategic Choices and Management Review, aimed at wringing efficiencies out of the Pentagon budget. “After considering the results of the review,” Hagel said then, “I determined that it is possible and prudent to begin implementing a new package of efficiency reforms now -- ones that should be pursued regardless of fiscal circumstances.”

Ultimately, Hagel said, the goal is not only to cut OSD, but to trim budgets for the Joint Staff, military service headquarters and secretariats, combatant commands, and defense agencies and field activities by 20 percent as well. And he has directed these organizations to seek a corresponding 20 percent reduction in military personnel and civilian positions.

Overall, the Pentagon says, overhead cuts will produce $10 billion in savings over the next five years and almost $40 billion over the next decade.

Last week, the Pentagon announced it would be forced to lay off more than 6,000 civilian employees across the entire Defense Department starting in October, if budget cuts mandated under sequestration remain in effect.

In leading the headquarters review, Donley will report to Defense Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter, submitting recommendations for Hagel to consider and crafting an implementation plan. In July, Hagel said he wanted Carter to “identify someone from outside DoD who is deeply knowledgeable about the defense enterprise and eminently qualified to direct implementation of the OSD reductions.”

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