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Defense Budget Cuts Could Have Major Impact In Md.

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’re learning more about the massive budget cuts to defense spending proposed by the Obama administration–cuts that could have an impact here in Maryland.

Derek Valcourt has more on the cuts and what people are saying about it.

Make no mistake these would be the biggest cuts to the military in decades. The question is, can they get past Congress?

The proposed Pentagon budget cuts would shrink the size of the Army to the lowest levels since before World War II. It also calls for the reduction of military benefits and the retiring of certain aircraft and Naval ships.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calls the proposal a reshaping after a decade of war to make the military smaller, more focused and more high-tech.

“The reality of reduced resources and a changing and challenging strategic environment requires us to prioritize and make difficult choices,” Hagel said.

A 2011 Bloomberg Survey ranked Maryland seventh when it comes to defense spending as part of its GDP. Nearby Virginia topped the list and Washington, D.C. ranked fifth.

Right now, it’s unclear how Maryland would be affected by the cuts, but WJZ has learned the military’s entire fleet of A-10 combat aircraft are on the chopping block, including 10 of them stationed at the Maryland Air National Guard Field at Martin State Airport.

“Those aircraft and those personnel that support those aircraft have done a phenomenal job over the years and have served their country and state well. We really don’t know at this point how this is going to impact us,” said Maryland National Guard Lt. Col. Charles Kohler.

“We can’t cut military forces below what we expect our military leaders to respond to in terms of the mission. To do that is just insane,” said Glenn Johnston. “As war becomes faster and we’re expected to respond more rapidly, how are we going to do that if we’ve cut so small that we don’t have the troops that are trained and the equipment fielded already?”

Former Army captain turned military historian Glenn Johnston worries not only about military readiness but about the impact cuts to commissary and housing budgets will have on active military families.

“We’ve got a good infrastructure that we can’t cut. These people need that; we owe is to them for doing it on our behalf,” Johnston said.

Some of these proposals could face some tough opposition in Congress, potentially from members of both parties trying to show active duty military members and their families some support.

The president’s formal budget, including these proposed cuts, will be officially presented to Congress next Tuesday.

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