Top Pentagon Officials Address Budget Challenges

Top Pentagon officials testified before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees this week to explain the compound impact of a year-long Continuing Resolution (the CR is keeping the government funded at FY 2012 levels until March 27, 2013) and sequestration (automatic) cuts that will take effect March 1, 2013, if Congress doesn’t approve alternative spending reductions.

  • Army General Marin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that if the proposed cuts are made to the Defense budget, they will be the steepest in U.S. military history.
  • Ashton Carter, Deputy Defense Secretary, described the “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Defense Department” and urged Congress to pass the FY 2013 Defense Appropriations bill and delay/eliminate sequestration.
  • Marine Corps Commandant James Amos noted that our enemies are watching this debate closely and that these spending cuts will put the nation at risk, lead to degraded equipment and insufficient training, and create a “hollow force.”
  • Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert stated, "Sequestration and the lack of an appropriations bill will have an irreversible and debilitating impact on the Navy's readiness through at least 2014. We will not be able to respond in the way the nation has expected and depended.” He continued, “Family programs are important [and] I do not want those constrained."
  • Adm. Mark Ferguson III, Vice CNO, echoed Greenert’s position during the Senate hearing, saying, “Simply stated, the combined effect of a year-long continuing resolution and sequestration will reduce our Navy’s overseas presence and adversely impact the material readiness and proficiency of our force—thus limiting the President’s options in time of crisis. Of equal concern, we will irreversibly damage the industrial base that we depend upon to build and maintain our ships and aircraft.”
  • General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, explained that sequestration and continued CR funding will impact readiness, citing reductions in training and delayed infrastructure maintenance as potential outcomes.

Members are urged to express concerns about the effects of sequestration on national security and can use the FRA Action Center to send a message to the President, their senators and representative to do so.

Read Tom Philpott’s syndicated “Military Update” column (2-14-2013) for additional information.