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General Calls Deep Defense Cuts ‘Very High Risk’

10:01 AM, Jul 28, 2011 • By ROBERT ZARATE
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* Admiral Jonathan Greenert, vice chief of naval operations: “We are looking very, very hard at a $400 billion cut.  We don’t totally understand the total impact that’s going to have on the force, but when you double that . . .  $800 billion or more, that is -- you're reaching an area there that I think would definitely we'd have to look very, very hard at our strategy, what we can and cannot do.”

* General Phillip Breedlove, Air Force’s vice chief of staff: “A $400 billion cut would force us to constrict our force in order to maintain a ready and fit force to fight. . . .  Beyond $400 billion, we would have to go into a fundamental restructure of what it is our nation expects from our Air Force” 

* General Joseph Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps: “I think, within $400 billion, we would have some challenges in taking those cuts.  I think, if they would exceed $400 billion, we would start to have to make some fundamental changes in the capability of the Marine Corps.”

As the question and answer session with lawmakers concluded, General Dunford said that any cuts to the Pentagon’s baseline budget need to be made “in a measured way so that we don't end up at the end of the day with a force that’s hollow in the future.”

It remains to be seen whether the United States will take budgetary steps that move us closer to—or further away from—the future “hollow force” that Pentagon planners and outside experts worry about.

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