Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act
I want to thank members of Congress -- and particularly the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Carl Levin and Buck McKeon -- for their bipartisan work to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 53rd consecutive year. The fiscal year 2015 NDAA extends critical pay and benefits for our troops; strengthens our efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the military; and authorizes critical funding for operations to reinforce our NATO allies and European partners in the face of Russia's aggression, and to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East -- including the training and equipping of moderate Syrian opposition forces to combat ISIL on the ground.
However, I remain concerned that Congress continues to prevent the Defense Department from pursuing many cost-savings measures that are essential to fielding a ready and capable force to meet today's challenges and prepare for tomorrow's threats. We also need more predictable budgets. Sequestration remains the law of the land, and if Congress allows sequestration to return in 2016, it will damage our military's readiness and threaten our ability to execute our nation's defense strategy.
The longer we defer tough choices, the more difficult they will become down the road. Congress must partner with DoD leaders in the new year to provide our military with the budget flexibility and predictability it needs, and the resources that our men and women in uniform deserve.