Department of Defense Secretary
details results of sequestration uncertainty
| WASHINGTON, D.C. (American Forces Press Service)
— Soldier and Marine training, Air Force flying hours and Navy steaming
days are being curtailed thanks to the $47 billion in cuts Department of
Defense (DoD) must make before Sept. 30, Secretary Chuck Hagel said
The secretary stressed at the start of his first press conference that
uncertainty caused by sequestration “puts at risk our ability to
effectively fulfill all of our missions.”
He was joined by Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and both men said
that if sequestration is allowed to continue through the end of the
fiscal year, the effects will become much worse.
The department will continue to adjust to the fiscal realities, Hagel
said. He and Carter had just met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the
Tank — the chiefs’ secure conference room — to speak about the
consequences of sequestration.
“Leadership in the Pentagon … (has) two serious concerns: first, the
abrupt and arbitrary cuts imposed by sequester; and second, the lack of
budget management flexibility that we now face under the current
continuing resolution,” Hagel said.
The department has already had to cut funding for readiness, he said.
“As sequester continues, we will be forced to assume more risk, with
steps that will progressively have far-reaching effects,” the secretary
Starting in April, the Navy gradually will stand down at least four air
wings, he said.
“Effective immediately, Air Force flying hours will be cut back,” Hagel
said. “This will have a major impact on training and readiness.”
The Army will curtail training for all units except those deploying to
Afghanistan, he said, noting that this means an end to training for
nearly 80 percent of Army operational units.
“Later this month, we intend to issue preliminary notifications to
thousands of civilian employees who will be furloughed,” Hagel said. The
department has about 800,000 civilian employees and the vast majority of
them face losing 20 percent of their pay through the end of September.
Sequestration comes on top of $487 billion in cuts defense agreed to
under the Budget Control Act.
In anticipation of sequester, in January the department began to slow
spending. The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman did not deploy to the
Persian Gulf as scheduled, and the department looked to hiring freezes
and layoffs of temporary and term employees. The service chiefs
announced cuts to facilities maintenance and contract delays.
“If sequester continues and the continuing resolution is extended in its
current form, other damaging effects will become apparent,” Hagel said.
“Our number one concern is our people — military and civilian — the
millions of men and women of this department who work very hard every
day to ensure America’s security.”
The department needs some fiscal certainty, the secretary said, and DoD
leaders will continue to work with Congress to help resolve this
“Specifically, we need a balanced deficit reduction plan that leads to
an end to sequestration,” he said. “And we need Congress to pass
appropriations bills for DoD and all federal agencies.”
(See related story.)