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Spending Cuts Have Big Impact on Military
Top U.S. military experts warn our armed forces soon may not be as prepared to deal with a national crisis. It's all because of a series of automatic spending cuts that are set to kick in, in just weeks.
"Obviously, the security of our nation is very important to most Americans and that's what we worry about," Major Brad Leighton with Illinois National Guard said.
The Department of Defense is already planning almost half-a-trillion dollars in cuts. Another $500 billion in cuts over 10 years is on the horizon if Congress can't avoid a series of looming automatic cuts--or what Congress refers to as sequestration.
It would affect federal agencies and departments and hit the Department of Defense hard.
"If that happens, it will be painful," Leighton said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is warning of furloughs for civilian workers, shrinking naval operations, cuts to Air Force flying hours, and cuts to Army training, which could affect our military's readiness for combat.
"The negative effect is a threat to the security of the U.S. and of Illinois," Leighton said. "If we don't have money to train, money for equipment, money for things we need, not to mention personnel we need, then obviously it could be very severe consequences."
"This sequestration is something I do not support," U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said. "I think it is laziness on Congress' part."
"What that does is it stops Congress' ability to go line by line through the federal budget and re-prioritize the way we spend money in Washington," the freshman representative from Illinois said.
To avoid the automatic cuts, Congress must agree on a fiscal plan for the country by March 1.
The across the board spending cuts known as sequestration were part of a 2011 deal that raised the federal debt ceiling. President Obama is calling for a short term deal to put off the cuts, so Congress can continue to work on more permanent solutions to reduce the federal deficit.