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Further cuts in military forces on horizon, general says

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By Reuters
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 6:09 p.m.
 

The Pentagon will have to cut the size of military forces for the second time in as many years if across-the-board spending reductions of $470 billion over 10 years take effect March 1, the top U.S. military officer said on Saturday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said about a third of the cuts would have to come from forces, with the remaining two-thirds taken from spending on modernization, compensation and readiness.

He noted that the Army had begun to shrink last year toward 490,000 from a high of 570,000.

The Budget Control Act envisioned the additional across-the-board cuts under a process known as sequestration.

If those cuts go into effect, “the Army will have to come down again,” Dempsey said.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Afghanistan, Dempsey said two recent high-profile examples of belt-tightening were attempts by the Pentagon to adapt to the challenging budget climate and had nothing to do with sequestration.

The Pentagon said last week it would seek a smaller-than-expected pay increase of 1 percent for military personnel in the 2014 fiscal year budget. Pay increases generally have been pegged to an employment cost index and had been expected to rise 1.7 percent.

“That action is being taken to help us absorb the $487 billion in the Budget Control Act. It has nothing to do with sequestration,”

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