Tuesday December 1st, 2015 6:07AM

Joint Chiefs: Looming cuts would 'hollow' military

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The military's top leaders are warning Congress that automatic spending cuts looming in March would force the Pentagon to slash operating budgets, weakening the armed forces and possibly forcing furloughs of 800,000 civilian employees.

The Joint Chiefs say in a letter to Congress that the cuts would create a "hollow force" and would require aircraft to be grounded and warships to return to port.

Troops on the front lines would continue to receive the support they need, despite a cut to the Pentagon's overall budget of more than 7 percent, the chiefs said. But those cuts feel more like 20 percent because they're crammed into the second half of the budget year and funding for uniformed personnel and combat operations is exempt.

"Should this looming readiness crisis be left unaddressed, we will have to ground aircraft, return ships to port, and stop driving combat vehicles in training," said the Jan. 14 letter from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and his colleagues. "We are also now planning for the potential to furlough nearly 800,000 defense civilians who are essential to critical functions like maintenance, intelligence, logistics, contracting, and health care."

The looming cuts are the price to pay for the failure of a 2011 budget "supercommittee" to agree to deficit cuts to replace the automatic reductions.

There's a growing sense of resignation that the country's political leaders will be unable or unwilling to find a way around looming automatic cuts to both the Pentagon and domestic agencies even though there's common agreement that the cuts would threaten the recovering economy.

The biggest impact for the Pentagon would be training and readiness spending.

"The readiness of our armed forces is at a tipping point," the letter said. "We are on the brink of creating a hollow force."

Conservative Republicans, once among the loudest voices against the so-called sequester, now see the painfully large cuts as leverage in their battle to force Democrats into concessions on the budget.

The predictable deadlock - and looming cuts of $85 billion this budget year alone - has the potential to slam the economy, produce sweeping furloughs and layoffs at federal agencies and threaten hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs.

GOP states and congressional districts would bear the brunt of the $43 billion in cuts to defense, however, so it's unclear how much leverage Republicans really would have.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 1 year ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 1 year ago )
White House offers governors info on refugees in their states after Syrian migrants uproar
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors t...
9:08PM ( 8 hours ago )
Standoff at Planned Parenthood ends with suspect's arrest; 3 killed, 9 wounded
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman who opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hourslong standoff that killed t...
1:13AM ( 3 days ago )
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 4 days ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 5 days ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 1 week ago )