US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the ‘uncertainty’ in the spending cuts puts at risk the Pentagon’s ability to perform its missions effectively.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama signed into effect the spending cuts, known as the sequester, which will take $85 billion from the US federal budget in 2013. About half of the cuts, 43 billion dollars, will affect the US military sector.
About 800,000 civilian employees at the Department of Defense will see a 20-percent cut in their salaries. The cuts will also affect flights and equipment maintenance within the department.
“Let me make it clear that this uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions,” Hagel stated.
“Later this month, we intend to issue preliminary notifications to thousands of civilian employees who will be furloughed,” the Pentagon chief added.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has also criticized the sequester, saying the cuts could harm the US Department of Defense.
The cuts have also effected the deployment of US aircraft carriers. The US Navy will stand down several hundred planes beginning in April. The Air Force and the US Army are also expecting cutbacks in training.
President Obama has blamed the Republicans for refusing to prevent the “dumb” spending cuts. “Instead of closing a single tax loophole that benefits the well-off and well-connected, (Republicans) chose to cut vital services for children, seniors, our men and women in uniform and their families.”
The Republicans voted to “let the entire burden of deficit reduction fall squarely on the middle class,” Obama said.
The sequester cuts, designed in 2011, could also affect the salaries for 10,000 teachers and 7,200 specialists for children with disabilities.