Hagel pressurises US Congress to reverse Pentagon budget cuts

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that the world has now become a more volatile, less predictable and more threatening as he warned that the US Army is still short of what is needed to defend the nation with minimum risk after being hit with the budget cuts last year.

PTI| Updated: Oct 16, 2014, 13:16 PM IST

Washington: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that the world has now become a more volatile, less predictable and more threatening as he warned that the US Army is still short of what is needed to defend the nation with minimum risk after being hit with the budget cuts last year.

"As the Army emerges from over 13 years of large-scale combat operations - the longest in its history - it faces new challenges. The world is becoming more volatile, less predictable, and, in many ways, more threatening at the same time our defense budgets are declining," Hagel said in his key note address to the Association of the US Army.

"The Army's contribution to our security are as critical today as ever. We see it in West Africa where soldiers from Fort Campbell and Fort Bragg will soon deploy as a key part of America's contribution to the global effort to stop the spread of Ebola before it becomes an even more of a grave threat," the Defense Secretary said as he pressured Congress to reverse the Pentagon's deep budget cuts.

Hagel said the Pentagon would face a shortfall of USD 70 billion over the next five years if Congress does not reverse the cuts.

"Going forward, whether we can keep our soldiers ready in the future will depend on Congress's partnership in providing the resources to fund the training our soldiers need,"he said.

"Our soldiers deserve...A stable and predictable budget that gives them and their families the training and support they need," Hagel said.

"But sequestration (budget cuts) remains the law of the land. If Congress does not act, it will return in 2016, stunting and reversing Army readiness just as we have begun to recover," he added.

Hagel said demands on the Army will only grow more diverse and complicated going forward.

"Threats from terrorists and insurgents will remain with us for a long time. But we also must deal with a revisionist Russia, with its modern and capable army on NATO's doorstep," he said.