Hagel warns troops close to ‘breaking point'

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelPentagon withholding nuclear weapons inspection results: report Lobbying World The US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? MORE warned Monday that American troops were nearing their "breaking point," saying sequestration and battles with Congress over the budget were putting an unnecessary strain on the military.

“When you push human beings this hard, they break,” Hagel said, according to Time magazine. “And our people have been pushed close to the breaking point. Some have been pushed beyond the breaking point.”

The Defense secretary was speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering in Louisville, Ky.

Hagel has been arguing for a series of cost-saving measures, including base closures and a reduction in pay increases, as part of a broader effort to reduce Pentagon spending while preserving military functions. But Congress has bucked at many of the proposals championed by Hagel.

The Defense secretary said Monday that the opposition did not “help our men and women in uniform, especially when these savings can be used to fund readiness and modernization.”

“This will require Congress joining DOD in a partnership of difficult choices, priorities and decisions,” Hagel said, according to Defense Daily.

Hagel added that the Defense Department will not be able to meet its budgetary savings requirements just through more efficient operations and headquarters reductions.

"It will require far more," Hagel said, adding that officials "must find savings everywhere in our budget."

He also warned that sequestration — some $500 billion in across-the-board cuts that will hit the Pentagon over the next decade — “is an irresponsible process and it is terribly damaging."