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article imagePentagon hands out pink slips to thousands of soldiers

By Karen Graham     Jul 14, 2014 in Politics
In a stunning announcement on Thursday, Gen. John Campbell told Congress that 1,100 soldiers, including some now serving in Afghanistan will be receiving pink slips due to sequestration budget cuts to the Defense Department.
Officials with the Department of Defense say the reductions are part of mandatory budget cuts that went into effect March 1, 013. The cuts are meant to lower spending by the federal government $1.1 trillion over a period of eight years. Defense spending was lowered by 10 percent in 2013 and will reach 8.5 percent in 2021, for a total of $454 billion.
Last week the initial announcement included more than 1,100 U.S. Army Captains, battle-experienced men and women who have had multiple deployments, and many of them still in Afghanistan today. The fact that the Defense Department is choosing to notify these officers while deployed that they are taking a mandatory retirement is what has many people upset.
Fox News is reporting they learned on Friday that an additional 2,600 captains and other officers have been laid off, or will be laid off in the coming weeks, with more pink slips expected as the Pentagon works to reduce the military from 520,000 to 450,000 U.S. soldiers.
The sequestration budget cuts were criticized in 2013, and the announcement on Thursday received additional criticism. Retired Major Gen. Robert Scales, a Fox News contributor, said the decision to send pink slips to soldiers while on active duty is "dangerous and bad for morale. It puts the soldier, the soldier’s family and the men under his command at risk. Young officers look at each other and wonder who is next.”
One Army wife posted on MilitaryFamily.org: “On some level I knew the draw-downs were inevitable, but I guess I never expected to be simultaneously worried about a deployment to Afghanistan and a pink slip because my husband’s service is no longer needed.”
A Defense Department official said that with a smaller force, the margin for error in the field is reduced. Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell said: “In other times, they’d probably continue to stay in the Army. But these are not normal times.” And with the economy still in the recovery stage, most of these new retirees will be coming home to a future in the unemployment lines.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in response: “Once again [President Obama] is putting domestic politics ahead of the security of our nation. The Army captains and majors receiving pink slips while on the battlefield is just the latest example."
"My heart goes out to these men and women who are risking their lives and making great sacrifices, yet are now being told they are being separated from the Army and will have no job when they return home to their families.”
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