Sequestration formally arrived late Friday night and is probably here to stay. Whether or not it remains in its current form remains to be seen.
Despite weeks of dire warnings and a classic case of Washington finger-pointing, it appears that Congress and the White House have already moved on to the next fiscal crisis which is the continuing resolution that expires March 27.
The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a straightforward continuing resolution that would set federal spending through the rest of the current fiscal year without addressing the sequester cuts and other potentially contentious questions.
The measure will pair a continuing resolution for most of government with newly written Defense and Military Construction-VA spending bills. While providing no additional funds to the Pentagon or the VA, the new spending bills would allow them to better manage the effects of the sequester.
The President had already indicated his willingness to work together to avoid a government shutdown.
Regardless, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pointed out in hearings last week, granting greater flexibility for the sequestration cuts might bring better policy results, but would not significantly affect the impact of the sudden reduction in federal spending.
Here is what we do know so far:
* For the remaining seven months of the fiscal year, the defense budget will shrink by $42.7 billion while non-defense programs will take a $28.7 billion hit
* Most of the reductions will come from discretionary spending
* If federal employees are furloughed, it will not begin until April at the earliest
* Military personnel pay and allowances will not be impacted by the sequester, nor will military personnel face furloughs
* Termination of base support contracts as well as military community and base activities would not be felt until early April
* Civilian furloughs could affect military hospitals and clinics because civilians make up 40 percent of the workforce. Patients who currently receive care at military treatment facilities may be forced to seek case in the private sector at an increased cost to the Defense Department and the taxpayer
* Commissaries may have to close one day a week
* Child care services, base schools, teen programs and family services may also be impacted as funding tightens
As we have said on many occasions, this is no way to do business. We agree with the Army’s Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno who said that what the Army needs most is some budget predictability through several years so that end-strength, modernization and readiness can be carefully balanced so we can avoid a weakened force.
AUSA has been urging Congress to solve the sequestration puzzle since March of 2012! If they do not act, it will go into effect this March. The across-the-board budget cuts would severely damage the defense industrial base, and the ripple effects of layoffs and delayed or cancelled contracts could well plunge the national economy into a recession. Should sequestration occur, at a time when our nation faces a wide range of national security threats, equipment, maintenance and soldier training accounts would take the brunt of the cuts; leaving a weakened, less-than ready force.
Please add your voice to ours by sending an email or letter to your Congressmen, urging them to find a compromise and avoid Sequestration.
The fiscal process must be put back in order so that our defense forces can maintain readiness and sustain their ability to defend this nation.
Members and Friends,
As most of you know, our Chapter’s largest effort is to support ‘Our Community Salutes’ each year. This program recognizes high school seniors that have chosen to join the armed services after graduation. Last year on May 2nd, with the help of a few sponsors, particularly Summit Aviation, we were able to recognize 22 senior enlistees and their parents from New Castle County and thank them for choosing to serve their nation.
This year our event will be one of 80 such events around the country, and we hope to invite senior enlistees from all three counties in Delaware. Tim Furlong of NBC10 Philadelphia will return as the emcee and we have invited Dr Jill Biden to be our keynote speaker. As a member of the Blue Star Mothers, Dr Biden appreciates those who join, and understands the emotions of their parents. Wilmington University will again host the event and all of the military services will be represented.
To expand the event and include senior enlistees from all Delaware high schools, we need your help. Wilmington University has been gracious in providing the venue, but I am hoping to find other sponsors and donations to help defray the other costs. When you visit the OCS web page, http://www.ocsde.org, there is an option to Donate to the 2013 ceremony via credit card, Pay Pal or by sending a check. Both AUSA and OCS are 501 © 3 organizations, so contributions are tax deductible. Any support we receive will go directly toward providing a first-class event for our heroes that will depart for basic training after graduation. Help us be the “first to say thank you” to these young citizens.
Gary W. Dawson
President, Delaware Chapter, AUSA
Co-Chair, Our Community Salutes Delaware
AUSA and the U.S. Army are committed to strengthening the partnership with the National Guard and Reserve. The Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, issued the Army Total Force Policy: Fully Integrating the Operational Reserve. This policy states that the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, as one Total Force, will provide forces to support Army commitments worldwide.
Gen. David Rodriguez, speaking Oct. 22 at the Maj. Gen. Robert G. Moorhead Guard and Reserve Breakfast before the official opening of the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, said his command’s requirement to provide trained and ready soldiers for the spectrum of missions requires “maximizing training resources” and “inculcating all the lessons we learned in the last 11 years” for the active force, Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
He told the National Guard and Army Reserve audience that he wants to build on the strong partnerships that the two reserve components have built over the last 20 years with foreign military services and foreign governments, and their expertise in crisis response and drug interdiction and “many, many other missions” in the future.
We know that a number of you are on Facebook so we now have a Facebook page as well. We hope that it can be a place where you feel comfortable to comment, post photos, and keep in touch with what’s going on in our chapter to support Soldiers, their families, and those that work for the United States Army. Check out our Facebook page here and tell your friends too: https://www.facebook.com/AUSADelawareChapter
Special agents from the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) are once again warning Internet users worldwide to be extra vigilant and not to fall prey to Internet scams or impersonation fraud — especially scams promising true love. The victims are most often unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who think they are romantically involved on the Internet with American Soldiers. People should never send money to persons they meet on the Internet that claim to be in the U.S. Military. To report a scam to the Internet Crime Complaint unit, visit the IC3 website at http://www.ic3.gov. Also, report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft , or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338).