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Air Force chief wants to curb pay growth

The Air Force's top officer says the service must curb growth in pay and benefits. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who spoke at the Grand Forks Air Force Base Monday, said pay, benefits and medical costs make up about half of the...

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
In this May 8, 2013 file photo, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

The Air Force's top officer says the service must curb growth in pay and benefits.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who spoke at the Grand Forks Air Force Base Monday, said pay, benefits and medical costs make up about half of the Air Force's budget, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday.

Welsh made clear he's not advocating for cutting pay, but he said he wants Congress to consider slowing pay growth. That will help the service deal with other budget challenges, such as sequestration, the automatic spending cuts that went into effect earlier this year.

"These cuts are forcing our military leadership -- and many others across the country -- to make incredibly tough decisions, with no good options," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in an emailed statement. "We need to better support our military by ending these harsh cuts, and developing a comprehensive budget with targeted cuts that (provide) our military leadership the flexibility they need to reduce funding that isn't essential, while still supporting programs that are needed."

Welsh said he understands the military has a role in reducing the nation's debt, but "no one would argue the mechanism of sequestration is the most effective way to do that. It's absolutely not."

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Call Hageman at (701) 780-1244, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1244 or send email to jhageman@gfherald.com .

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