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Readiness Challenges Could Affect Retention, Dempsey Says

By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON — The readiness challenges in the American military could turn into a retention challenge if allowed to continue, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. 

Sequestration spending cuts are being piled on to the effects of already scheduled defense budgets cuts, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor lunch event. 

The cuts are coming from operations and maintenance funds -- the money the department uses to ensure military readiness, the chairman said. Troops are aware of this, he added, and they tell him of their concerns. 

At a town hall meeting he conducted recently at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Dempsey said, rather than hearing about how operations are going there, he heard service members voice their concerns about the future. 

“They are worried about their careers in the military, [and] they are worried about readiness,” the chairman said. Pilots coming into the Air Force want to fly, just as soldiers, sailors and Marines want to do their jobs. 

“If they can’t do their jobs, there is a level of dissatisfaction,” Dempsey said. 

The chairman emphasized that service members deploying to combat areas receive all the training they need to succeed, but added that cutbacks are affecting the rest of the force. 

“We have a current readiness challenge,” he said. “Today’s readiness challenges could indeed, lead to tomorrow’s retention challenges. 

“They are not there yet,, Dempsey continued, “but again, we have to watch our service members who have operated at such a significant pace, with such significant responsibilities, and we bring them back to sit. That will, I predict, impact retention.”