If a 2013 budget isn't passed, the Navy will have to stop the refueling overhauls to two other carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and delay the construction of other ships, Adm. Mark Ferguson, the vice chief of naval operations, told the committee. The Navy will have to shut down four of its air wings on March 1 unless a sequester is averted, he added.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, called the budget situation "dire" and "unprecedented." The Army's top priority, he said, is to ensure that soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Korea and those next to deploy are prepared and ready. But close to 80 percent of the force — those not in Afghanistan or Korea or deploying this year — will have their training curtailed, he said.
"I began my career in a hollow Army," said Odierno, using a term to describe a force that looks good on paper but lacks adequately trained troops and modern equipment. "I do not want to end my career in a hollow Army."
By the end of 2013, less than half of the Marine Corps' ground units will be trained to the minimum readiness level required for deployment, said Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant. Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said a sequester will force an involuntary 22-day furlough for up to 180,000 civilian airmen. That deprives the Air Force of over 31.5 million hours of productivity and will result in loss of over 200,000 flying hours, Welsh said.
Carter, the deputy defense secretary, urged lawmakers to put aside their partisan differences and head off the sequester, which he said is "purely the collateral damage of political gridlock."
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