The American-led war in Afghanistan is likely to be impacted by US budget cuts despite the Obama administration’s plan to shield the military’s combat mission from the reductions, the Pentagon’s deputy secretary said Friday.
“There will be second-order effects on the war,” deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter said, giving the example of deferred maintenance on weapons and other equipment eroding the military’s combat fitness.
The Associated Press reported Friday that that Obama administration is hoping that Congress will find a deficit-cutting mechanism to replace the spending cuts due on March 1, but that Carter had suggested in the interview with a small group of reporters that hopes are slim.
The expected defense cuts will amount to about $50 billion this budget year; a sum that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has repeatedly said would hurt national security.
If the cuts take effect in March, it will also impact the 800,000 Pentagon civilian employees jobs who will have working days and paychecks reduced by April, Carter said.
It is already eliminating all 46,000 of its temporary civilian workers in anticipation of the reductions, but no military positions will be cut, he added.