FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says federal budget cuts are hurting the nation's military readiness.
Hagel made the comment during a town hall-style meeting at Fort Bragg on Monday.
Hagel told an audience of soldiers and civilian workers that the cuts are more dramatic than in past years. He said they are forcing the military to take deeper, steeper and more abrupt reductions than before.
Hagel told the audience the Defense Department hopes to avoid a second year of furloughs. However, he said that if the cuts stay in effect the department will have to consider further action to reduce personnel costs, including involuntary reductions in force.
Hagel is touring military installations along the East Coast.
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