Hagel testifies on proposed defense budget

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your side is closely following the new defense budget proposal, which could greatly impact  military families in Hampton Roads.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified Wednesday morning at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2015 defense budget proposal.

“It is a budget that begins to make the hard choices that will have to be made,” he said. “The longer we defer these decisions, the more risk we will have down the road.”

Hagel defended the  proposal that will cut billions of dollars from the defense  budget. It will shrink the Army by about 50,000 active duty members and inactivate half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet.

“I believe this is adequate for future demand,” Hagel said. “We will continue investing in high-end ground capabilities to keep our soldiers the most advanced — the most advanced on earth.”

Lawmakers on both sides don’t like how the budget will affect military families. Pay raises for the enlisted will cap out at 1 percent, support programs will be reduced, and it begins a phase reduction in housing allowance that will result in service members paying 5 percent out of pocket.

Lawmakers also questioned reducing military forces at a time of a growing international crisis in ukraine.

Senator John McCain, from Arizona, lamented Hagel saying,  “You’re timing is exquisite. You’re coming over here … at a time when the world is probably more unsettled since it’s been since the end of World War II.”

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia also asked about the possibility of reducing the number of aircraft carriers. If sequester continues into 2016, many say we can’t afford 11 aircraft carriers, but that many carriers is a statutory requirement.

“Before I get into some particulars about [aircraft carriers],” Kaine began, “it is the policy position of both the DOD and White House to continue to support an 11 carrier navy, correct?”

Secretary Hagel replied, “Yes it is.”

Secretary Hagel said if the money is not there, more cuts will be made.

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