PACOM: Military furloughs will be worse in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific thinks the fiscal cliff spending cuts will hit harder in Hawaii because of local costs and the regional mission.

Admiral Samuel Locklear testified Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington before flying back to Honolulu for a Wednesday joint hearing in the Hawaii Legislature.

Locklear told members of Congress the cuts, especially the one-day-a-week furloughs planned for civilian employees of the Defense Department, will have a major impact in Hawaii.

He cited the high cost of living in Hawaii will make 20 percent pay reductions bite harder for the 38,000 civilian DOD employees in the Pacific, many of them resident in Hawaii.

And he said the timing is bad because it comes as the Defense Department is "rebalancing" forces, shifting more operations to the Pacific region.

"These funding cuts will challenge our ability to execute both discreet operations and the broader Indo-Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy," he said in his prepared remarks.

The cuts are already having an impact, the admiral said, given that a March ship deployment has already been postponed, with the ship remaining at Pearl Harbor.

Locklear also mentioned the spending cuts come at a time when China plans to grow its submarine fleet to a larger size than U.S. forces in the Pacific.

China's Xinhua News Agency transmitted its own report on the testimony, which did not mention the sub remark but quoted Locklear as saying budget uncertainties could undermine the U.S. rebalancing strategy.

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