A Defense Department report released last week warned of the negative impacts of sequestration — echoing the congressional testimony military officials have given for some time.
“If sequestration-level cuts persist, our forces will assume substantial additional risks in certain missions and will continue to face significant readiness and modernization challenges,” the report stated.
Sequestration is referred to as the automatic reductions of the caps on government-wide discretionary funding established in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Released April 3 by the Defense Department, the report focuses on fiscal year 2016 and beyond. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 provided a reprieve of sequestration-level spending through 2015.
“These impacts would leave our military unbalanced and eventually too small to meet the needs of our strategy fully,” the report stated.
Retired Col. Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, said the report falls in line with the warnings of top Army officials.
Pay and allowance make up 46 percent of the Army’s budget and are immune to sequestration. Therefore, to reduce the impacts of the cuts to other accounts, the Army must reduce the number of soldiers, Parry said.
Need 450,000 to meet mission
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said 450,000 is the lowest the Army could go and still perform its mission.
Under sequestration, the DOD report estimates the Army to drop below that number, to 430,000 by 2018 with only 25 brigade combat teams. Currently, the Army is on target to meet previous drawdown requirements to have 490,000 soldiers and 32 brigades by 2015.
“When resources and the strategic objective don’t match ... it’s a situation of risk,” Parry said. “How much risk are we willing to take?”
Fight for resources
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, is calling for more strategic cuts and “a responsible budget that preserves our national defense and gets our fiscal house in order.”
“I will continue to fight to ensure the men and women in uniform have the resources they need to be as safe and effective as possible when we ask them to go into harm’s way in defense of our nation,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, said now is the time to strengthen the military, “not shrinking to unprecedented troop levels and dramatically reducing our readiness capabilities.”
He said the DOD should look at cuts that don’t put national security at risk instead of training, equipment and personnel.
“The U.S. military must remain the most dominant force in the world, but these proposed cuts by (Defense) Secretary (Chuck) Hagel will severely limit America’s power and influence,” Rogers said.
Aside from defense leaders, both the Association of the U.S. Army and the Military Officers Association of America have spoken out about the dangers of sequestration.
“The biggest danger facing today’s military is not terrorism, global instability or the proliferation of weapons. It’s the danger of our ignorance if we let history repeat itself,” retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, AUSA president wrote on the Defense One website on April 7. “In our zeal to quickly cut federal spending we have accepted an increased level of risk to our national security because of unwillingness by our political leaders to think twice before dropping the ax.”
The only way to avoid a future of sequestration would be for Congress to act, Parry said.
“Congress is going to have to fix sequestration by amending it or appealing the Budget Control Act of 2011,” he said. “I think it will take something bad to make us as a nation realize we made some bad decisions.”