Pentagon announces plan to trim billions from military for 2015
“While the Pentagon can and must do more to cut inefficiency and find places to save, I am concerned that the defense budget is not being driven by our national security interests and the real threats we face in a dangerous world,” Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte said in a statement. “I will closely scrutinize the Defense Department’s 2015 budget request to examine its potential impact on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the New Hampshire National Guard.”
“It’s going to be hard to convince me that a personnel cut this big is in the best interests of our national security, but I also recognize the difficulties faced by the Department of Defense since sequestration was passed in 2011,” Shea-Porter said in a statement, referring to the budget measure she opposed.
Hagel has argued that as the United States military winds down its war in Afghanistan and looks to cut billions in defense spending, the Pentagon plans to continue shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific region and will no longer need a land Army of the size currently planned,
A two-year budget deal in Congress in December gave the Pentagon some relief from the budget cuts, but still forced it to reduce spending in the 2014 fiscal year by $30 billion.
“This will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DoD is making after 13 years of war, the longest conflict in our nation’s history,” Hagel said.
Republican governors accused President Barack Obama of making politically motivated cuts to their states’ National Guard funding.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting between the president and the National Governors Association Monday, the GOP governors said they were deeply troubled by Obama’s tone when asked about planned cuts to the National Guard. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Obama became ”aggressive” and that his tone “chilled the room quite a bit.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to respond directly to the GOP characterization.
Hagel said the Pentagon also planned to eliminate the Air Force’s fleet of A-10 “Warthog” close-air-support jets, which are much beloved by ground troops, in order to ensure continued funding of the new long-range bomber, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a new aerial refueling tanker.
Hagel said the department would slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances, reduce the annual subsidy for military commissaries and reform the TRICARE health insurance program for military family members and retirees.
Reuters and Union Leader Staff Writer Ted Siefer contributed to this report.
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