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Hagel: Military readiness being damaged by federal budget cuts

Posted July 15, 2013

— Federal spending cuts projected to trim about $52 billion from the U.S. defense budget next fiscal year are already doing damage when it comes to the nation's military readiness, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told troops at Fort Bragg Monday.

"You all know that we have planes not flying, ships not sailing, soldiers not training," Hagel told about 200 uniformed soldiers and civilian workers during a town hall-style meeting on the military post. "This is forcing us to take deeper, steeper and more abrupt reductions than we've ever had to do."

As part of the automatic cuts, also known as sequestration, about 8,400 civilian employees at Fort Bragg – among 85 the 900,000 Department of Defense employees around the world – are being furloughed for up to 11 Fridays through Sept. 30, amounting to a 20 percent pay cut over the next three months.

"Furloughs were the last thing I wanted to do for obvious reasons," Hagel told Monday's crowd. "I know it's painful, but I could not take down that readiness line any further."

Hagel said the Defense Department hopes to avoid a second year of furloughs but that, if the cuts stay in effect, the department will have to consider further action to reduce personnel costs, including involuntary reductions in force.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visits Fort Bragg Defense secretary Hagel visits Fort Bragg

"(Uncertainty) is the dark cloud that hangs over this institution," Hagel said. "No one knows what's going to happen in fiscal year 2014."

In a letter last week to leaders of the Senate Armed Services, Hagel said budget cuts will also reduce the size and technological superiority of the military, placing "at much greater risk the country's ability to meet our current national security requirements."

The letter was the strongest statement to date from Hagel pushing back against congressional resistance to alternative Pentagon proposals to save money.

The administration has called for another round of domestic base closings, elimination of several weapons systems, a speedier drawdown in the size of the Army and Marine Corps, and increased fees for health care.

Yet the House and Senate, in crafting their versions of a defense authorization bill, have soundly rejected the Pentagon plans.


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  • Independent_Johnny Jul 16, 2013

    People need to realize that a large military is no longer necessary in todays world.Iraq and Afghanistan are the last conflicts that the US will be involved in such a large scale with actual troops on the ground.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 16, 2013

    I love how Hagel provides valuable intelligence to the entire world. Then the Government carps about snowden. The reality is, Congress offered to provide the administration with the ability to adjust how these tiny tiny amounts of spending reduction could be implemented. The Administration instead chose to have what they hoped would be a political club. Hagel is just doing his part in the pretense. No reason that the DOD budget can not be reduced much much further than it has been touched.

  • Force_One Jul 16, 2013

    Read this NPR article.......just makes your blood boil to hear the pentagon whining about defense cuts.

  • 426X3 Jul 16, 2013

    Little by little HRH King Obama is destroying this country.

  • colinmb123us Jul 16, 2013

    If they'd stop spending over $8 billion to "develop" an aircraft that already exists and is in service with other countries, no one would have to be furloughed. The KC-46a is a slightly modified version of the KC-767 that is already being used by other countries (Airframe, 90+% of the avionics, Engines, 90+% of the refueling boom, etc, etc,...) yet they have budgeted $8.1 billion for "development" (This is more than 4X what my company is going to spend to develop and build and new type of powerplant from the ground up). Possibly they could stop procuring the unnessary M1 tanks and C17's that the Branch heads have told them we had no need for (the last C17 was just delivered so its too late to scale that farce back) and let those on the ground make the actual decisions on troop strenghts rather than dictate it to them based on who they are going to get the biggest kickback from or additional votes from those whos state it is built in.

  • littleriver69 Jul 16, 2013

    Hagel couldn't care less. Same as barack.

  • seven74215 Jul 16, 2013

    Bring all our troops home. Stop giving out FREE foreign aid over aid needed within the U.S. Tax heavily businesses that outsource jobs to the point they have no choice but to bring the jobs back here for us. These are just a few of the things that America can do to GREATLY reduce our economic woes. There are lots more that can be done but apparently or government; and most Americans for that matter, lack the basic common sense to understand this.

  • tracmister Jul 16, 2013

    Incredible! All this talk when you are spending millions on advertising, high school programs, recruiting, waste, and the list goes on. With a budget that dwarfs other countries military budgets it's time to figure out how to become prudent without hurting military personnel.

  • The Soldier Jul 16, 2013

    How about we start taking the money from the leaders pockets? I bet you don't see them taking any cuts! I've been in the military for over seven years and when you start messing with the protection. You will get hurt in some way. These rich cats think they are safe from the enemy's of America because they have money. The military is like your weapon. You take care of it, and it will take care of you. God bless America! HOOHA!!

  • BernsteinIII Jul 16, 2013

    Withdraw from Afghanistan.