Dempsey calls budget "a mess"

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey commented on the budget on Thursday at a town hall gathering, calling it "a mess," but added that the U.S. will figure it out.

Dempsey, speaking to troops, said that the cutbacks are happening too quickly. Eighty percent of the budget has been spent for this year with six months left in the fiscal year. As a result, the Defense Department will be playing "catch-up," hoping to "get our legs under ourselves" by the 2015 fiscal year, Dempsey said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Dempsey to get furlough days down as low as possible, and that he is confident that the U.S. will still have a "force that is still ready" by the end of the fiscal year.

Dempsey was also asked about potential cutback to the retirement plan for military personnel. Dempsey said he such a change is not needed and any resulting change would happen slowly, as "veterans associations work diligently to protect health care, compensation and retirement."

In response to a question about the ability of the U.S. to remain a global power in lieu of its fiscal challenges, Dempsey said "we can't afford not to be the stabilizing influence that we are."

Involvement overseas has been scaled back as much as possible, but Dempsey argues the U.S. will have to make the best of having "less and less."

"We are going to do less with less, but not less well," Dempsey said. "That's the commitment...You're still going to be the best-trained, best-equipped, best-led force on the planet."