The department’s 46,000 temporary and contract employees are “all now subject to release,” Carter said, meaning they will either be let go now or will not have their contracts extended. The only exception would be if they are performing jobs critical to the war or the department’s basic mission.
The department also is cutting back on base and equipment maintenance, which costs about $15 billion per year. He said the Navy would cancel maintenance on 30 ships that had been planned for the third and fourth quarters this year.
“They’re not going to sign those contracts with the shipyards that do that work,” Carter said.
Carter said the Pentagon would have to do “more draconian things” if Congress allows the $45 billion in cuts to go into effect, likely leading to “a pervasive crisis in readiness.”
He said the Army projected that if the cuts occur, two-thirds of its active brigades and all of its reserve brigades would be operating at reduced readiness. Funds for training would primarily be used to prepare troops deploying to Afghanistan, while others would largely do without, he said.
Most Air Force flying units would be at reduced readiness by the end of the year, he said. The Navy would have to cut back steaming days by 30 percent to 35 percent, affecting its presence in the Gulf and Asia-Pacific region. He said the cuts might affect the U.S. ability to keep two carriers in the Gulf.