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Friday, July 12, 2013

Hagel Warns of Sequester's 2014 Impact on Air Force

By Woodrow Bellamy III

The Senate Armed Services Committee learned of the impact of the continuation of sequestration cuts on Wednesday, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote a letter to the committee warning that cutting an additional $52 billion from the Pentagon's budget next year would have "severe" effects. 

Hagel said the continuation of the sequester would have a particularly big impact on the Air Force, which has already grounded nearly a third of its active-duty combat squadrons, and would have to reduce training significantly to more than half of all air combat units in 2014 with the $52 billion cut. Two Navy air wings would not "be able to achieve full flight hours, and Special Operations units, which are key to counterterrorism activities, would experience declining readiness," according to Hagel's letter.

President Obama's proposed $526.6 billion 2014 defense budget would replace the immediate sequester cuts and call on the Pentagon to reduce spending by $150 billion over the next decade.  

In the letter, Hagel said he supports the president's request, as it would avoid a second year of unpaid furloughs for civilian Defense Department workers, who currently face 11 furlough days for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year due to the current sequester cuts that were enacted in March. 

After reviewing Hagel's letter Wednesday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said the continuation of the sequester would lead to an "unthinkable reality."

"As I predicted, sequestration is leading to the hollowing out of our military and if the Department of Defense’s sequestration is not averted for future years, we will move beyond furloughs and programmatic reductions to firing personnel and canceling our critical weapons programs," said Inhofe. 

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist



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