Sequestration Crippling Armed Forces at a Critcal Time

Let me summarize the recent Legislative Update from AUSA. The ongoing budget uncertainty and sequestration is wreaking havoc on the Defense Department at a time when the world is not getting any safer. The news this weekend was stark: Officials ordered the temporary closure of over two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts, issued a global travel warning to Americans because of a terrorist threat, and are evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Yemen
As sequestration continues the Strategic Choices and Management Review presented Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with two approaches to reduce force structure and force modernization. The first approach would trade away size for high-end capability. This would further shrink the active Army to between 380,000 to 450,000 troops, reduce the number of carrier strike groups from 11 to 8, draw down the Marine Corps from 182,000 to between 150,000 and 175,000, and retire older Air Force bombers. This choice would result in a force that would be technologically superior, but would be much smaller and less robust, especially if threats occurred in different regions of the world.
The second approach would trade away high-end capability for size. Limited cuts would be made to ground forces, ships, and aircraft, but modernization programs would be curtailed, cyber enhancements would be slowed, and special operations forces would be reduced. Either approach would stifle our ability to provide and sustain modern equipment to troops all over the world and damage the viability of America’s private-sector industrial base.
AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., is shocked that Congress continues to leave sequestration in place. In a letter to House and Senate leadership last week he said that, “The effects of continuing to impose the costs of sequestration on the Department of Defense will cause the Army to loose effectiveness at all levels. The sad legacy of the sequestration cuts will be a, “hollow Army” with furloughed civilians, tiered levels of unit readiness, reduced flying hours, deferred battle loss replacement, and cancelled Soldier training; all that lower professional leader development and unit readiness.”
Worse, President Obama told congressional Democrats that the Pentagon should get no more attention than many other areas of the budget with respect to sequestration. Even the Washington Post was alarmed by his message; stating in an editorial that the President “cannot act as though the Defense Department’s sequester cuts are equivalent in consequence to every other item in the budget. The country’s defense is a core responsibility of the federal government, and its armed forces are critical to the nation’s ability to exert leadership, maintain alliances, and preserve the nation’s safety.”
Please join us and contact your members of Congress to urge them to pass legislation that will end sequestration. Visit the Legislative Agenda page on AUSA’s website http://www.ausa.org. Click on the “Contact Congress” link and then on the prepared letter “Stop Sequestration Now” to let your Representative and Senators know that it is time to act.