Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel was sworn in as Secretary of Defense earlier this week, and in his first statements to the Pentagon he did not shy away from addressing the looming budget crisis. Speaking to top military officials, Hagel maintained that while there are certainly challenges ahead, he has a commitment to supporting servicemembers and their families.
Among the most serious issues he addressed was the potential for $45 billion in spending cuts over the next year if Congress is unable to avoid sequestration. Though he did not go into detail concerning what impact the sequester could have on military readiness, he said that the budget cuts are something that should not be ignored.
"We need to deal with this reality," he told a packed audience, according to The New York Times.
Hagel also took the opportunity to discuss the shifting geopolitical landscape. Specifically, he stressed the importance of working with allies to make progress in the world, rather than going it alone. He also touched on the fact that the military wants to shift its focus from operating in the Middle East to having a presence in Asia.