Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) turned the discussion at today's hearing to the industrial base, asking Hagel whether he would commit to helping ensure its stability in the face of uncertain financial conditions.
Blunt also noted a quote from an interview Hagel gave in 2011 in which Hagel referred to "bloat" in the Pentagon's budget. Hagel, in response, noted that the interview concerned the overall budget situation before the Budget Control Act and its threat of sequestration. Noting that he "never supported sequestration," Hagel talked about the problem of "waste, fraud and abuse" in Pentagon spending and said "that's certainly an area that we're going to have to take a look at."
As for specific areas that might be targeted for savings, Hagel cited missions and responsibilities that have been "pushed down on the military the last 12 years" -- things that in the past were under the purview of the State Department and other agencies. "So the military has taken on a tremendous volume of assignments and funding that goes along with that," Hagel said. "That needs to be sorted through."