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Ex-military chiefs concerned about automatic spending cuts

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Retired military chiefs say they expect automatic budget cuts will force the Defense Department to reduce its spending by $500 billion over the next 10 years, in addition to the nearly $500 billion the Pentagon already has sliced from its budget.

"There's no way that it won't take place," retired Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force chief of staff, said during a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "If you look at timelines, FY2013 begins in October."

The automatic spending reductions, known as sequestration, are set to go into effect Jan. 1 if Congress does not change the law requiring $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next decade.

President Obama has said he would veto any proposal that seeks to save only the Defense Department from the cuts.

Retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, former Army vice chief of staff, said he believes the automatic cuts are inevitable.

"Some form of sequestration is going to take place," he said.

Under sequestration, the Pentagon would be required to cut $52 billion from its already-reduced budget next year.

Gen. Fogleman said personnel cuts need to be accelerated and reserve forces need to be used more effectively.

"The all-volunteer force, as it is presently sized and comprised, is unaffordable," he said.

Gen. Chiarelli disagreed, saying that personnel are being cut at the right pace.

"I would take issue that personnel can be cut much faster than they are being cut," he said, adding it is important that troops have enough time at home between deployments.

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