NORFOLK--Even as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel defended proposed military cuts Wednesday, sailors at Naval Station Norfolk were questioning the proposed reduction to the Basic Allowance for Housing.

Hagel told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that compensation for the troops will remain 'substantial, affordable and generous.'

Under Hagel's plan, the B.A.H. would be cut over several years by six percent, when the elimination of renter's insurance is factored in. The move would save the Pentagon $5 billion per year.

But, according to the Military Officers Association of America, it would also be costly to affected individuals. MOAA estimates it would cost an E-5 $1,400 per year, and an O-3 $2,100 per year.

'I count on it a lot,' said Gunner's Mate Second Class Ashley Ross. 'That's going to make life a lot harder than it is already now with economics and how the economy is going. It's going to put a big dent in a lot of people's pay pockets.'

Fire Controlman First Class Robert McCrary agreed.

'It would affect a lot of people's lives -- a lot of people. They depend on it for rent, they depend on it for supplementary income for bills,' he said. 'So, it affects a lot of sailors, a lot of military in this area.'

The Navy and Marine Corps Relief society provides financial assistance to military members in need. That organization's leaders are concerned about the news.

'At the end of the day, it is no good for that young active duty person to have this cut and to have to spend more out of pockets for housing, it's just bad,' said Deputy Director Joe Schnurbusch.

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