2014-03-07T000925Z_2_CBREA251QEZ00_RTROPTP_2_USA-FISCAL-DEFENSE

Big budget cuts pose 'tough, tough choices' for Pentagon: Hagel

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey attend the House Armed Services Committee hearing on on Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned on Thursday that “tough, tough choices are coming” if the Pentagon implements deep future spending cuts required by law, including whether to slash the Army to 420,000 soldiers and decommission an aircraft carrier. Hagel told a House of Representatives committee that a return to steep budget cuts in 2016 and beyond would force the Army to cut 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers more than currently planned and the Marine Corps to trim another 7,000 troops. The cuts would “compromise our national security,” the Pentagon chief told the House Armed Services Committee.

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