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Defense industry works with less

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Automatic spending cuts under sequestration became an unfortunate reality in early 2013 and initial ripple effects appeared soon after. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), which employs about 5,000 people in San Diego, went on a hiring freeze and many Navy ship repair and maintenance workers were warned of potential layoffs.

San Diego stands to fare the sequestration storm better than other defense communities across the United States, however, because of the national strategy to pivot to the Pacific. The rebalance will align 60 percent of the Navy's forces in the Pacific and 40 percent in the Atlantic.

2013 economic outlook shrouded in uncertainty
The global, national, state and local economies are all poised for stronger growth in 2013, but that could go awry if Washington fails to find an answer to its budget and debt problems, said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University's Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, in January.

AFCEA West 2013 attendees feels the pinch
Despite the ongoing ban on federal travel, 10,000 people in the defense industry made it to San Diego for this year’s AFCEA West conference in late January. One planned exhibitor that canceled its booth due to budgetary woes was SPAWAR.

USS Ronald Reagan returns home
The USS Ronald Reagan arrived at Naval Air Station North Island in March after a 14-month stay in the Pacific Northwest for $218 million in repairs and upgrades. San Diego now houses two aircraft carriers and has room for one more.

Blue Angels cancelled at Marine Corps Air Station Air Show
The U.S. Navy axed the remaining 2013 performances of its premiere Blue Angels flight demonstration squad because of ongoing defense budget crisis. Since the Blue Angels were formed in 1946, more than 463 million people have seen their jaw-dropping shows.

Defense health care budget gets hit
Naval Medical Center San Diego, a 272-bed multispecialty hospital and ambulatory complex in Balboa Park, has been planning furloughs for months. “We do anticipate some delays in access and longer wait times. Some services may be deferred and elective services may be put off until after the furlough," said Sonja Hanson, public affairs officer at Navy Medicine West and NMCSD.

USO Neil Ash Airport Center opens in June
The new 10,000-square-foot facility, named after military vet and supporter Neil Ash is the largest USO airport center in the world for active-duty service members and military families.

Rear Adm. Dixon Smith moves on
Rear Adm. Dixon Smith’s relatively short stint as commander of Navy Region Southwest came to a close in early July. Smith moved to Norfolk, Va., to become the new commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. His replacement in San Diego is Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, who had been commandant of Naval District Washington in Washington, D.C., for the past four and a half years.

Unemployed veterans hired
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) pledged to hire 100,000 veterans in five years, or by May 2018. More than 15,000 veterans transition from military service in San Diego County every year, and that number is growing. Locally, National Veterans Transition Services Inc. helps veterans adjust to civilian life and secure employment through a three-week Reboot program.

-Compiled by Tierney Plumb.

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