DOD adjusts to fiscal realities of sequestration

The Defense Department will stop training for all Army troops except those bound for Afghanistan, the Navy will scale back on its number of air wings and the Air Force will cut back its flying hours as the Pentagon seeks to cope with the sequestration that went into effect this month, said the department's civilian leaders.

The uncertainty caused by the sequestration “puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at his first press conference March 1, which was reported on the DOD's website. 

Both Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who joined him at the press conference, said that the effects will become much worse if sequestration is allowed to continue through the end of the fiscal year.

The DOD will continue to adjust to the fiscal realities, said Hagel, who together with Carter met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier that day to discuss 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 DOD 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 said.

Starting in April, the Navy will gradually 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 decision to only train Army units that will be deployed to Afghanistan means an end to training for nearly 80 percent of Army operational units.

The DOD needs fiscal certainty, Hagel said, and DOD leaders will continue to work with Congress to help resolve this uncertainty.

“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.”

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