US military braces for budget cuts

January 02, 2013 - 2:08:18 am

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is bracing for deep spending cuts that will affect every facet of the US military if lawmakers fail to agree a deal to avert dramatic budget reductions, officials said.

The Defence Department will be forced to scale back training for troops, reduce spending for spy agencies, cancel purchases of some weapons and issue furlough notices to hundreds of thousands of civilian workers, they said.

The defence cuts amount to at least $52.3bn for 2013 -- or about 10 percent across all the armed services — under mandatory federal spending reductions, which were designed to be so drastic that Congress would reach a compromise to avoid heading over the “fiscal cliff.” 

But any prospect of a grand bargain among political leaders that would address both tax increases and spending cuts had dissolved by New Year’s Eve, with the White House hoping for a more modest deal to avert tax hikes.

It was not clear whether a possible last-minute deal would halt the massive across-the-board automatic spending cuts, postpone them to a later date or whether lawmakers could reinstate trimmed spending retroactively.