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Budget cut woes leave military, families uncertain

By Brock Vergakis

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

"Who is going to be there to support the family when they need that support service?" she said.

The Barry deployed a day after another ship's tour was canceled because of the looming cuts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indefinitely halted the USS Harry S. Truman from heading to the Middle East, leaving just one carrier in the region. A Navy document says that when the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower deploys there in a few weeks that its tour could be extended indefinitely.

USS Barry Cmdr. Thomas J. Dickinson said part of being in the Navy is the ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

"Anytime you go on a deployment you tell the crew, 'This is what we're scheduled for and if requirements change you have to be flexible.' And we talk to the families about that as well because that's who it's really hard on because they're holding down the fort while we're away doing our job," said Dickinson, the ship's commanding officer.

"Everybody reads the news and we talk about it, but one thing I don't do with the crew is give them any kind of speculation. That just kind of jerks them around a little bit. So I give them the facts, I give them what I know, when I know it."

For other sailors, being flexible means unexpectedly staying in port when they had already canceled apartment leases, cellphone contracts and put items into storage

Seaman William Neild had already given up his apartment ahead of Friday's planned departure for the Truman. His wife had also already made plans to move to Illinois for the duration of his expected six- to eight-month deployment. He now plans to spend his nights aboard the Truman until it is finally given orders to deploy again.

"It's just a lot of frustration," he said.

The potential for the cuts to kick in is the result of Congress' failure to trim the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade. The Pentagon faces a $42.7 billion budget cut in the seven months starting in March and ending in September. The automatic cuts would be in addition to a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years mandated by the Budget Control Act passed in 2011.

Associated Press writer Kristin M. Hall contributed to this report from Nashville, Tenn.

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