Air Force starts cuts with sequestration looming

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The Air Force is canceling all nonessential travel, conferences and research, and is cutting in half its budget for base maintenance to deal with the threat of drastic, automatic spending cuts due to begin March 1, Air Force officials say.

The service will also have to slash pilots’ flying hours by 18 percent and aircraft maintenance by 17 percent if the spending is cut, according to a Jan. 7 memo from Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

The Washington Times has obtained a copy of the memo, which is addressed to Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and was first reported over the weekend by The Associated Press.

The memo states that the immediate cuts will “introduce significant inefficiencies and delays” into the Air Force’s work, but the cuts would not right away affect the service’s ability to fight, which the military calls readiness.

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