U.S. Army readiness up after budget cuts but improvement needed: Hagel

U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel delivers the keynote address to the Association of U.S. Army annual meeting in WashingtonBy David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the U.S. Army has improved its combat readiness this year but is still short of what is needed to defend the nation with minimum risk after being hit with deep across-the-board budget cuts last year. Hagel said a congressional budget deal late last year had helped to stabilize defense spending and enabled the Army to devote more resources to maintenance and training. But he warned that the gains could be reversed unless lawmakers act to avert a return to the deep spending cuts in October of next year. …

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