Failure by Congress to end budget sequestration could force the services in fiscal 2014 to freeze military promotions, suspend recruiting and halt all change-of-station moves
, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned in letter Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Automatic budget cuts already are “severely damaging military readiness,” Hagel wrote to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), committee chairman, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican. Without relief, defense spending will take another $52 billion hit in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
If Congress lets that happen, by continuing to refuse to compromise on a debt reduction deal, the Department of Defense will keep a civilian hiring freeze in place, continue to neglect facilities maintenance, deepen cuts to weapon programs and impose “an extremely severe package of military personnel actions including halting all accessions, ending all permanent change-of-station moves, stopping discretionary bonuses and freezing all promotions
,” Hagel wrote to introduce a budget “contingency plan.”