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Despite dire warnings from military and political leaders over the effects of sequestration, most Americans questioned in a recent Gallup poll said they had no opinion about it.

The July poll found that 54 percent of Americans did not know enough about the across-the-board spending cuts to determine whether they were good or bad.

When sequestration began in March, 51 percent said they did not know. Polls in April and May showed little difference.

Although government employees polled were more likely to have an opinion, 35 percent of federal employees — most of whom are being furloughed once a week due to the cuts — still had not formed an opinion.

Of those who shared their views on the indiscriminate cuts that could slash $500 billion in spending over the next decade, 30 percent said they were bad, compared with 15 percent who saw them as a good thing.

This year’s sequestration cuts shaved $84 billion from the federal budget, half of which came from defense. Military personnel and benefits were excluded, meaning savings had to be found in operations, training, maintenance, equipment and other areas.

Without a budget deal that allows for more targeted spending cuts, the Pentagon will have to cut another $52 billion in 2014, Pentagon officials said this week.

The combination of sequestration and congressionally mandated military pay raises — which are protected from cuts — threatens readiness and all modernization programs, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said at the American Enterprise Institute on Sunday.

Because of sequestration, Odierno said he wasn’t sure he could guarantee that a large group of soldiers would be trained properly for a sudden deployment.

“Most importantly, it probably means more casualties,” Odierno said.

Under this fiscal year’s sequestration, non-defense cuts have meant less money for a variety of areas, including Medicare, scientific research, public defenders and national parks.

Lawmakers created sequestration as a measure so undesirable that it would force Congress and the Obama administration to agree on a more targeted deficit reduction package. When that did not happen, sequestration took effect as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

slavin.erik@stripes.com

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