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Hagel calls on Congress to stop sequestration cuts for 2014

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For the military to get back to an acceptable readiness level, Congress must stop sequestration cuts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said while defending President Obama's fiscal 2014, $526.6 billion DoD budget request during a June 11 Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense hearing.

If the sequester-related provisions of the Budget Control Act are not changed, fiscal 2014 funding for national defense programs will be subject to a reduced cap, which would cut DoD funding by around $52 billion.

Sequestration cuts in fiscal 2013 "significantly disrupted" military operations, Hagel said.

The Army has stopped rotations at its key combat training centers for all but deploying units.This and other training cutbacks will leave most non-deployed Army units at unacceptable readiness levels, Hagel said.

The Air Force has stopped all flying at more than a dozen combat coded squadrons. "These units will soon no longer be ready to fight on short notice," Hagel said.

The Navy has curtailed deployments, including the decision not to send a second carrier strike group to the Gulf, he said.

On the civilian side, Hagel said, the DoD will furlough 700,000 employees for up to 11 days starting July 8.

Hagel also continued to push for another round of Base Realignment and Closures despite the House Armed Services Committee approving language in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1960) that would prohibit the DoD from proposing, planning or initiating another round of BRAC.

While the commission would meet in 2015, the actual closing of any bases would involve a multiyear process that would not begin until 2016, Hagel said.

"BRAC is an imperfect process, and there are up-front costs for BRAC, and this adds $2.4 billion to pay them, but in the long-term there are significant savings," Hagel said.

The previous five rounds of BRAC are now saving a total of $12 billion annually, he said. "We cannot justify funding unnecessary infrastructure when we are reducing force structure," Hagel said.

For more:
- go to the hearing page (webcast and prepared testimony available)

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