Hagel, an enlisted Army infantry veteran and former Republican senator, called for numerous assessments, to the point that it seemed to become a default move. Among them:
Strategic Choices and Management Review (closed already)
Hagel called for a full review of how the Pentagon runs in April 2013, in one of his first acts as defense secretary. Speaking at the National Defense University, he said the Strategic Choices and Management Review would ensure that the Pentagon was being realistic in confronting both strategic and budgetary challenges.
“The department must understand the challenges and uncertainties, plan for the risks, and, yes, recognize the opportunities inherent in budget constraints and more efficient and effective restructuring,” Hagel said.
Ashton Carter, then the Pentagon’s No. 2 leader, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the review. It was commonly known in the Pentagon as the “skimmer,” after its acronym, SCMR. The results, announced in July 2013, played a role in how the Pentagon prepared for the federally mandated budget cuts known as sequestration. However, it was derided by some analysts for providing a detailed road map of how the Pentagon would cope with sequestration if it stayed in place.
Hospitals and other health-care facilities (closed already)
Hagel called for a review of the Pentagon’s healthcare system in May, as The Department of Veterans Affairs, came under scrutiny following reports that some of its patients had died while awaiting care.
Pentagon officials said at the time that the review would take about 90 days. They announced the results Oct. 1, saying the review had found wide disparities in the care provided by the military. Some aspects of the system performed better than the civilian healthcare system, while others performed “below national benchmarks, Pentagon officials said.
Nuclear weapons programs (closed already)
Hagel called for two broad reviews of the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons programs in January, after a scandal emerged in which Air Force officers were found to have cheated on a routine proficiency exam needed to man nuclear missile silos.
The reviews found that fixing systemic problems will require at least $7.5 billion and a culture change, Hagel and other defense officials said earlier this month in announcing the results. Hagel acknowledged that “we just have kind of taken our eye off the ball here” in making sure that the military’s nuclear force is healthy.
Base security (closed already)
Hagel called for a full review of base security and security clearance policy in September 2013, after a defense contractor killed 12 civilian employees at the Washington Navy Yard. The incident prompted the secretary to want to do “everything possible to prevent this from happening again,” he said at the time.
The review is expected to take about a year, defense officials said. It is led by Andrew Effron, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Alcohol use and the troops (pending)
Hagel called in May for a review of the Pentagon’s alcohol policies, telling reporters that they would be revised as necessary to address the problems drinking can pose to others, “including the risk that alcohol is used as a weapon against victims in a predatory way.”
The review was called for when the Pentagon announced there were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault by service members in 2013. Several other changes were called for by Hagel, including the development of standardized screening for sexual assault by response coordinators and victim advocates.
No announcement has been made about changes to the Pentagon’s alcohol policies.
Tobacco use and the troops (pending)
In March, Hagel said he supported a review of tobacco use in the military, saying “we owe it to our people.” A Defense Department spokeswoman said at the time that Pentagon was in the initial stages of doing so, and no timetable for changes was disclosed.
The military awards process (pending)
Hagel, A Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat, called in March for a review of Defense Department awards programs, an attempt to assess how well the military honors valor on the battlefield. It could determine whether there are discrepancies in how the services assess award nominations, and how the Pentagon should recognize drone operators, cyber-warfare personnel and others who affect events on the battlefield from afar.
The review began in June, and is expected to take about a year, Pentagon officials said. It was called for after the Defense Department was by rank-and-file troops and veterans for the creation of a Distinguished Warfare Medal that would have ranked above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Reviews that weren’t ‘formal’
Defense officials said that several other issues were under review or deserved review, while drawing a distinction between them and the issues under full, formal review.
For example, Hagel asked his staff for information in September about the military’s relationship with the National Football League after a series of scandals rocked the professional sports league. Defense officials were quick to say that Hagel hadn’t asked for a full review, but said the secretary wanted to better understand the relationship between the two organizations.