Military families look on as defense budget cut woes lead to deployment uncertainty

NORFOLK, Va. -- Uncertainly over potential massive defense budget cuts affecting future ship deployments has U.S. military members and their families wondering if they will endure longer deployments.

The potential for the cuts to kick in is the result of Congress' failure to trim the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade. The Pentagon faces a $42.7 billion budget cut in the seven months starting in March and ending in September.

The Navy has said the cuts will mean there's less money for training and maintenance and that it could take longer to prepare crews to deploy as a result. The Navy has said that it would also deploy fewer ships to fewer places and that those that are sent out could spend longer time at sea with fewer port calls to boost morale.

Plenty of Oklahoma military families are watching closely to see how the battle in Washington will shake out.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe says the proposed cuts will affect more than 26,000 people at the five military bases across the state, meaning job losses and pay freezes.

Legislators have until the end of February to come up with an agreement.

Inhofe and other Republican senators announced a new delay bill Thursday that could help ease the blow.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the $500 billion in cuts to the Defense Department would damage America's readiness.

"We're going to have to cut back on the ability to support the troops who are not in the war zone, so what happens is we put more stress on those who are in the war zone," said Panetta.

The military is already feeling the impact and reducing its presence in the Persian Gulf and other bases around the world,.

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