In a July 10 letter, Hagel warns of the possibility that "draconian actions" may be needed to reduce personnel costs, including halting all accessions, freezing promotions, canceling all reassignments and terminating any discretionary bonuses.
For civilian workers, he warned of hiring freezes and involuntary reductions in force.
On readiness-related accounts, training and maintenance programs would continue at low levels and "in some cases" be cut even further, and weapons modernization accounts could be cut by 15 percent to 20 percent.
The Army Times notes the Department of Defense's budget this year is already $52 billion beyond the sequestration limit. Hagel's letter comes just a few days after the "special inspector general for the reconstruction in Afghanistan" wrote his own letter to Hagel highlighting a brand new $35 million base in Afghanistan that's never going to be used by soldiers.
Austerity could be the best auditor for the Defense Department, Cato's Benjamin Friedman argued in Foreign Affairs in 2011, forcing a long overdue review of U.S. defense strategies. It's unfortunate to see Hagel instead joining the Obama Administration's sky-is-falling chorus.
And that "austerity" so far? In this fiscal year, taxes have gone up 14 percent and spending has gone down just 4. Draconian, indeed.