Anxiety in Afghanistan over troops' pay if U.S. defaults

By Published: July 30, 2011

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told troops in Afghanistan on Saturday that it's uncertain whether the U.S. will be able to pay troops on time in the event of a debt default, according to a story by the Reuters news agency.

After several troops at Kandahar Air Field expressed concern over the budget debate taking place in Washington, Mullen told them that Pentagon officials were working hard to plan for a potential default, the Reuters report says.

Mullen acknowledged that many troops lived paycheck to paycheck, saying, "... if paychecks were to stop, it would have a devastating impact."

"I'd like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don't know," he was quote by Reuters as telling troops.

The U.S. said it will run out of money to pay its bills after Tuesday if there is no deal from Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear, Reuters says.

"I have confidence that at some point ... whatever compensation you were owed you will be given," Reuters quoted Mullen as saying. "But I don't know mechanically exactly how that would happen. And it is a huge concern."

Read more about the impact of a U.S. default by Reuters.