Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hagel offers troops rare glimmer of hope on budget

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel poses for a photograph with Marine Jessica Pantoja at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on Sunday. Hagel thanked troops deployed for the holidays.

Associated Press

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel poses for a photograph with Marine Jessica Pantoja at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on Sunday. Hagel thanked troops deployed for the holidays.

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Sunday offered troops a rare glimmer of hope on the department's financial woes, saying a possible budget agreement back home could ease the automatic spending cuts that have hit the military hard.

Wrapping up a two-day visit to Afghanistan before stopping in Pakistan today, Hagel told Marines at Camp Leatherneck that an emerging deal would restore some money to the Pentagon this budget year.

Hagel's time in Afghanistan was perhaps most notable for something he did not do — meet with President Hamid Karzai, who has rankled the United States by refusing to sign a bilateral security agreement before year's end.

The visit to Pakistan will be significant, too — the first by an American defense secretary since Robert Gates in early 2010. Relations between the two countries have seesawed over tensions about drone strikes and military operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Service members repeatedly have quizzed Hagel about the budget and the potential effect on the military. But his response to questions Sunday sounded a more optimistic tone than he has used for months.

At the same time, he said that whether or not the deal goes through, insuring that troops are ready for combat will continue to be a priority.

The automatic spending cuts, if they continue unchanged, would slice $52 billion from the department's budget in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Officials have said U.S. lawmakers are negotiating a deal that could restore between $10 billion and $25 billion each year, for the next two years, to defense spending.

Hagel traveled to southern and southwestern Afghanistan, meeting with commanders and local Afghan leaders for updates on the fighting season and the transition of the nation's security to Afghan forces.

Karzai visited Iran on Sunday, but he was in Kabul, the capital, when Hagel arrived Saturday. The slight by a senior U.S. official made clear the Obama administration's pique over Karzai's unwillingness to sign the stalled security agreement.

Karzai is holding up a pact that Washington and NATO officials say is critical to the plan to keep thousands of forces in Afghanistan after 2014 for a training and counterterrorism mission. He says he wants his successor to decide after Afghanistan's April elections.

Hagel offers troops rare glimmer of hope on budget 12/08/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 8, 2013 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]