The FY2015 DoD budget request will be $41 billion lower than the estimate included in the FY2014-19 budget plan presented last year, according to DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The reduction is necessary to meet the targets set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 passed by the Congress and signed by the president in December. That budget deal, put together by budget committee chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), set total discretionary funding levels for FY2014 and FY2015 and provided $65 billion in sequester relief, evenly divided between defense and nondefense.

In a press conference earlier this month, Hagel said that taking such a large cut is not simple, “you have to balance your budget.” He said he focused on readiness, modernization, and capability in putting the budget together. “As you assess your resources to mission, those are three priorities that always must be In front of everything else, he stressed.” Hagel set up the Strategic Choices and Management Review to assess DoD’s resources and the strategy and to guide the preparation of the FY2015 budget.

Hagel acknowledged that in preparing the budget DoD had to take some across-the-board cuts to reach the funding target. “Of course there will [be across-the-board cuts], you can’t do it any other way,” he said. But, he added that the budget “must preserve readiness and modernization and the capability and capacity in order to do the job of protecting this country.” He called the FY2015 budget and the five-year plan the president will submit an “an effective plan.” He said he looks forward to explaining it to Congress and why it makes sense.

The FY2014 budget is schedule to be released on March 4, 2014 and congressional hearings are expected to being at that time.