The reaction of Mississippians to Defense Secretary's Chuck Hagel's preview of the president's fiscal-year 2015 defense budget plan has been pretty uniform.
Mississippi Republicans have come out against the changes, and representatives for various Mississippi military installations have said their commands are taking a wait-and-see approach.
"This isn't the first time the Obama administration has tried to balance the budget on the backs of our men and women in uniform, and I'm sure it won't be the last," U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo said in a statement Tuesday. "No amount of cuts to our nation's military will address the real driver of our debt and deficits: out-of-control mandatory spending."
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran said he'll be skeptical of any proposals to cut military benefits, close bases or diminish the effectiveness of forces. "We must ensure that our men and women in uniform have what they need to remain the best trained and equipped force in the world," he said.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said: "I'm astounded that President Obama intends to reduce the number of military personnel to levels not seen since before World War II. These unwarranted cuts could also force an additional burden on members of our National Guard."
Gov. Phil Bryant said he's in close contact with Mississippi's congressional delegation "to protect our missions and our bases from federal cuts.
"Military missions and families are vital to our state and particularly to the Gulf Coast -- the Mississippi National Guard is first in line after a domestic disaster like Hurricane Katrina, and the Coast's military installations and defense contractors are sources of pride and economic vitality," he said.
Bryant said he has urged the administration to cut entitlement programs instead of national defense.
Wait and see
Area military installations are waiting to see what changes actually happens.
Hagel's recommendations to Obama still must pass Congress before going into effect, leaving plenty of political battles yet to be waged.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Tim Powell, Mississippi National Guard director of public affairs, said it would be premature to comment on the proposals, which include a 5 percent cut in the Reserve and Guard forces.
"This is only a proposal and we're just going to have to sit back and see what it brings," he said.
Similarly, Keesler public affairs officer Jerry Taranto said the base's officials are keeping tabs on what's going on in Washington.
"While we cannot speculate on what the impact will be for Keesler's work force and mission in the new fiscal year, the Air Force's goal continues to be retaining key skills, maintaining a high quality force and meeting accession requirements," he said. "By continually assessing force management requirements and options, the challenge will be to size the Air Force with the right balance of skills to meet mission requirements and address the converging challenges of constrained fiscal resources across the board."
Hagel said the changes -- which include reducing the size of the Army -- reflect a need to emphasize defending the homeland against strategic threats, building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression, and remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary should deterrence fail.
He said, "This strategy DoD will continue to shift its operational focus and forces to the Asia-Pacific, sustain commitments to key allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe, maintain engagement in other regions and continue to aggressively pursue global terrorist networks."
Hagel acknowledged risks associated with the cuts, but said the military "must now adapt, innovate and make difficult decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable -- maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries."
The Defense Department is also asking Congress for another round of base closings and realignments in 2017.
No commissaries will close in Hagel's proposal, but subsidies could be cut for some.