WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday the U.S. Navy would gradually stand down four air wings and the Air Force would immediately cut flying hours as the Pentagon grapples with budget cuts that put at risk "all of our missions."
Still, Hagel, at his first Pentagon news conference, said the department was determined to maintain the world's best fighting force despite the $46 billion in budget cuts due to go into effect on Friday.
"This uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions," said Hagel, who spoke about the budget cuts in more moderate terms than some Pentagon officials in recent weeks.
(Reporting By David Alexander; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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