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Hagel: Defense budget cuts will affect readiness

Washington

Hagel: Cuts will affect readiness

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that the military faced one of two options in order to meet mandatory budget cuts: chopping the number of personnel or limiting its technological edge. That might mean reducing as much as 29 percent of soldiers, 18 percent of Marines and three Navy carriers through 2019. The budget cuts have forced the Pentagon to craft contingency plans, all of which Hagel says will affect readiness. On Wednesday, Hagel said there was a tradeoff between cutting either the number of personnel or modernization capabilities. They must consider "what's preferable, what are the threats, what are the resources on capability versus capacity," Hagel said. "As I said, no decisions have been made." There are about 535,000 Army personnel, 182,000 Marines and 11 Navy carriers. The review suggests cutting that to as few as 380,000 Army personnel, 150,000 Marines and eight Navy carriers.

Baghdad

Shootings, bombings leave 26 dead in Iraq

Attacks including bombings of Shiite and Sunni mosques left 26 dead in Iraq, the latest in a surge of bloodshed that is raising fears of a return to widespread sectarian killings, officials said Wednesday. Most attacks on Shiites are presumed to be carried out by the country's branch of al-Qaida, which claimed credit on Tuesday for a wave of bombings the day before that killed at least 58 people. It said the attacks were carried out on behalf of "oppressed Sunnis," suggesting the group is trying to capitalize on Sunnis' complaints of being treated as second-class citizens by the Shiite-dominated government. The uptick of violence is dampening hopes for a return to normal life nearly two years after the last U.S. forces withdrew from the country.

New Orleans

Halliburton to plead guilty in BP oil spill

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 19 for Halliburton Energy Services to plead guilty to destroying evidence after BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company was arraigned Wednesday ion a misdemeanor charge. Although company attorneys entered a plea of not guilty during the arraignment, Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction of evidence in a deal with the Justice Department. Halliburton was BP's cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded, triggering an explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the gulf.

Cleveland

Kidnapped Ohio women kept diaries

Three women held captive in a run-down home for a decade kept diaries documenting the physical and sexual abuse they suffered, prosecutors said Wednesday. The women's kidnapper, Ariel Castro, lured one of them into his Cleveland home with the promise of a puppy for her son and later locked all of them in a vehicle in his garage for three days when someone visited him, prosecutors said. Castro claimed he didn't have an exit strategy from his complicated double life and finally gave the women a chance to escape by leaving a door unlocked, they said in a court document. Castro has pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder. He's being sentenced today.

Elsewhere

WASHINGTON: Members of Congress gathered in the stately Statuary Hall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963, which helped to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.

Times wires

Hagel: Defense budget cuts will affect readiness 07/31/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 11:34pm]
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