Hagel to announce painful military cuts; prepare for showdown

Under pressure to slash the Pentagon budget, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to announce painful cuts Monday, including reductions in pay raises, housing allowances, grocery subsidies and health care benefits, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In an election year, the reductions set up a sure-fire showdown with Congress and veterans groups. But in times of sequestrations, military officials counter that such savings are necessary to protect critical functions.

“Personnel costs reflect some 50 percent of the Pentagon budget,” Adm. John Kirby, spokesman for the Defense Department, said. “They cannot be exempted in the context of the significant cuts the department is facing. Secretary Hagel has been clear that while we do not want to, we ultimately must slow the growth of military pay and compensation.”

In a related development, the Army Times was informed that Special Operations Forces would not see increases in their fiscal year 2015 budget, the Washington Times reported.  At a recent conference, U.S. Special Operations Commander Adm. William Mcraven said the organization needed to rebalance spending among operations and maintenance, research and development, and testing and evaluation needs.

Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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