Washington: United States (US) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that he will not let the capability of the US forces to erode despite budget cuts.
It is to be mentioned here that the Pentagon is also operating under a budget plan, set to expire March 27, that is a continuation of the 2012 budget. Hagel and other Pentagon officials say that spending plan has not been adjusted to reflect changing conditions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Automatic spending cuts required by the 2011 budget bill went into effect Friday because of the failure of the White House and Congress to reach a deal to stop them.
Addressing a news conference at Pentagon after the appointment as the secretary of defence, Hagel said that he knows “the budget cuts will cause pain” but said they would not allow the military’s “capability to erode.”
Hagel avoided the more dire tone of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said the cuts would make the United States a “second-rate power,” and said he hoped a solution can be reached that will “avert tremendous damage.”
The United States, Hagel said, has the world’s most capable military, and despite the problems caused by the spending cuts, he and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not let that capability erode.
“I will do everything in my power to make sure America upholds its commitment to its allies.”
Hagel said that among the immediate actions to save money, Hagel cited:
The Navy will idle four wings of aircraft.
The Air Force will limit pilot training.
Army units not deploying to Afghanistan will have limited training.