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House Armed Services Chairman Opposes Major Defense Cuts

House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., told Fox News Tuesday that he rejects the deficit reduction plan proposed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., because it calls for more than $800 billion in defense budget cuts over the next decade.

"$800 billion cuts in defense - there is no way I can support that," McKeon said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a fiscal hawk and member of the Senate's so-called Gang of Six calls for same amount in defense cuts. But he bases a majority of his defense cuts on raising the amount of health care premiums paid by retired veterans. But McKeon says the military is too vital to make massive defense cuts.

"Looking forward, looking back, going forward what missions would you like to eliminate from the military that they are performing right now? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, relief efforts in Japan, the relief efforts in Pakistan, the flood, Haiti? All of these things the military are called upon to do, and then we take away all the resources," he said.

And McKeon pointed to the toll those missions have taken on military members and their families, arguing their benefits shouldn't take a major cut.

"[W]e've been at war now for 10 years. We have people who have six or seven deployments," he said. "It's caused great stress on their families and people at home. We've lost many of our young people, young men and women and there's been a tremendous stress put on them."

McKeon made his statement as the deputy service chiefs met with a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness to discuss the state of the Armed services after 10 years of war.

Deputy Commander of the Marine Corps, General Joe Dunford, told a House subcommittee that he had enough Marines to service the needs of CENTCOM (Central Command) but not the other commands. In other words, the Marines are stretched thin, a point that McKeon says applies to the entire military.

He notes that there are 31 fewer Army brigades today than there were in 1990, just over half the number of Navy ships, and less than half the number of Air Force fighter squadrons and strategic bombers.

Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin and Pentagon producer Justin Fishel contributed to this story.