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General: Budget cuts would give N. Korea an advantage

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 7:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Impending budget cuts could hamper efforts to deter North Korea from taking hostile action and stymie plans to upgrade America's nuclear arsenal, top military officers told senators on Tuesday.

Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services Committee that reducing the number of aircraft carriers in the Pacific could undercut deterrence and increase the possibility of miscalculation in the tense Korean peninsula. Scaparrotti, who has been nominated to command forces in South Korea, added that cuts in training will also erode combat readiness there.

He said Pyongyang is putting more money into development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, special operations forces and cyberthreat capabilities. And he added that if forces had to be deployed to Korea as a result of a provocation there, “we would probably take some time here in the States to train that unit to the readiness level that we believe they need to be at to do the job before they deploy. So arriving forces might be delayed as a result.”

During the same hearing, Navy Adm. Cecil Haney said that the nation must continue plans to upgrade its primary nuclear bomb and replace the aging fleet of nuclear-capable submarines to counter threats from other nations and non-state actors. Haney, the nominee to take over U.S. Strategic Command, said that cost savings have contributed to the delay in development of the new Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine, adding that additional delays would be unacceptable.

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