Budget Strains to Cut Carrier fleet in Persian Gulf to 1
U.S. officials say that budget strains will force the Pentagon to cut its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf area from two carriers to one.
Officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has formally approved a plan to keep just one carrier in the region. There have been two aircraft carrier groups there for most of the last two years.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the Gulf but was brought home in December for maintenance. It will return later this month, but plans for the USS Harry S. Truman to deploy to the Gulf this week have been canceled.
The officials discussed the cuts on condition of anonymity, because the announcement has not been made.
The Navy says it will cease deployments to South America and the Caribbean and limit those to Europe.
The Air Force warned that it would cut operations at various missile defense radar sites from 24 hours to eight hours. And the Army said it would cancel training center rotations for four brigades and cancel repairs for thousands of vehicles, radios and weapons.
"These steps would seriously damage the fragile American economy, and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe," Panetta said, adding that the self-made crisis "undermines the men and women in uniform who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect this country."
In addition to all of the more immediate cuts, U.S. troops are also likely to see a smaller pay hike next year than initially planned, due to strains on the budget. According to a defense official, the Pentagon will recommend that the military get a 1% pay increase in 2014, instead of a 1.7% raise. (AP)
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