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BY BROCK VERGAKIS
NORFOLK--A new commander took over the Navy's Atlantic fleet on Friday, saying that his biggest challenge in preparing sailors and ships for deployments around the world will be meeting budgetary challenges.
Adm. William E. Gortney relieved Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command during a ceremony aboard the USS Harry S. Truman at Naval Station Norfolk. Harvey had been in the post since 2009 and is retiring from the Navy.
Gortney's new job started the same day a White House report warned that $109 billion in across-the-board spending cuts at the start of the new year could be "deeply destructive" to the military. The automatic cuts known as sequestration would require a 9 percent reduction in most Pentagon programs.
"The biggest challenge is going to be the budget challenges that we're going to have making sure we have every dollar we spend we get a dollar's worth of readiness out of it so that when we send our forces forward they're able to do the mission," Gortney told reporters aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Among other things, U.S. Fleet Forces Command serves as the Navy component to U.S. Northern Command. U.S. Northern Command is responsible for the U.S. defense of North America and its surrounding to about 500 nautical miles.
Part of Gortney's job is also providing trained forces to other combatant commanders around the world.
"The production of warriors and readiness to send to four deployed naval commanders is our dominant line of operation," Gortney said. "These commanders should never have to question the capabilities and effectiveness of the naval forces we send them."