Pentagon seeks cuts in overhead, Army, Air Force to trim budgets

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Mr Hagel pledged to cut the Pentagon's overhead by almost US$40 billion (S$50.8 billion) over the next decade and chart out ways to cut compens
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Mr Hagel pledged to cut the Pentagon's overhead by almost US$40 billion (S$50.8 billion) over the next decade and chart out ways to cut compensation by US$50 billion. -- PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States (US) Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday pledged to cut the Pentagon's overhead by almost US$40 billion (S$50.8 billion) over the next decade and chart out ways to cut compensation by US$50 billion, regardless of the depth of further cuts in military spending.

Mr Hagel told reporters a four-month strategic review of the Pentagon's budget also pointed to possible reductions of up to 70,000 troops from the US Army's active force, and up to 65,000 from the Army reserves, given the drawdown in Afghanistan.

But he said reaching the total cuts required under the process known as sequestration - US$500 billion over the next decade on top of US$487 billion in cuts already under way - would require tough tradeoffs between the size of the military and weapons programs.

He warned that choosing size over capabilities would trigger a "decade-long modernisation holiday."

Mr Hagel did not identify any specific weapons programs to be cut, but said certain programmes would be protected if the military opted to preserve high-end capabilities over size.

He said President Barack Obama would decide which approach to take in coming months.