COLUMBIA, S.C. — America's military forces have been weakened by budget cuts that should be reversed, Gov. Nikki Haley told a group of senior military commanders on Wednesday.

The Republican governor made the comment during her annual meeting with 10 officers from the state's major military installations, delayed by the massive flooding that afflicted the state in October. The group represents Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard installations.

Haley, whose husband Michael serves in the South Carolina Army National Guard, said she wants to prepare arguments for those in Congress who continue to argue for military budget cuts.

She called the budget and manpower cuts "terrible."

"We have got to reverse course. We have got to strengthen our military. We have to strengthen the equipment and the resources because we don't know what is in the future," Haley said.

The governor said U.S. forces must be better prepared, given international and terrorism threats at home and abroad.

At the session, Haley also thanked the 4,000 members of the South Carolina National Guard who were called to active duty to assist in the state's emergency operations by conducting evacuations as well as road and dam repairs. She noted that military commanders are being required to beef up security, given attacks such as the one in July that resulted in five military service members killed in shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"But whatever it is, we're not ready," Haley said.

Several of the military commanders told the governor that besides the ongoing slimming of the nation's forces, they fear the automatic budget cuts scheduled for the coming years should the process known as "sequestration" be allowed to continue.

Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett, the three-star commander of U.S. Army Central, pointed out that his command headquarters was moved several years ago to Shaw Air Force Base in central South Carolina with "over 1,000 soldiers with 2,800 family members."

However, the Army is looking to cut his headquarters by 54 percent, resulting in a reduction to 539 soldiers and 73 Army-employed civilians by next fall, he said.

Those cuts have been ordered with no cutbacks in his duties, the general added.

Garrett's forces include the Third Army, which supports U.S. military units in the Middle East, western Africa and southwest Asia and engage terrorist organizations throughout, he said.

Such instability in the Middle East, coupled with manpower reductions, remains his top concerns, Garrett said.

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