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Pentagon accused of end run on budget cuts

Shifting billions rather than trim

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense has shifted several billion dollars in routine personnel costs into its Afghanistan war budget, a move numerous critics say has the effect of dodging most of the mandatory budget cuts imposed by Congress last year as part of a deal to avoid defaulting on US debt.

The approximately $4 billion in costs shifted to the war budget for active-duty Army and Marine Corps troops represents 80 percent of the $5 billion that defense officials have publicly said they are cutting from their regular budget to meet Congress’s mandatory reduction targets. Those targets were triggered by the Budget Control Act, which passed after a bitter partisan battle last year to raise the government’s debt ceiling and avoid a default.

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