I Cannot Say It Enough: End Sequestration Now! 

5/19/2014 12:00 AM 

Recently I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the enormous burden that sequestration has imposed on our defense forces.  I want to share some of what I said with you because I want you in the fight to end sequestration.  I believe that our Congress must hear from the grassroots – from you and me – so that they clearly will understand the irrationality of continuing the budget process under the shadow of sequestration.

Here is some of what I told the members of the Committee:  “AUSA is keenly aware that Congress and the Administration have had to make difficult choices while bolstering a weak economy and addressing budget deficits.  And while we recognize that debt reduction is a national priority, AUSA believes that a disproportionate share of this burden has fallen on the Defense Department. 

Requiring that 50 percent of mandatory budget cuts come from defense – even though the defense budget is only 17 percent of the federal budget – is somewhat misguided.  How in such a dynamic and dangerous world can we be so shortsighted?

The result is that defense officials now face a no-win situation.  They must try to find a balance among readiness, training, education, operational activities, and some modernization as well as Soldier and family program funding.  Uncertain times demand agility and adaptability by our defense leaders – look at what has suddenly occurred in Eastern Europe – yet the funding policies in place are rigid, constraining and damaging to our long-term national security.  Continuing this formula for the better part of the next decade defies logic.

AUSA and its members urge that Congress and our elected and appointed officials eliminate sequestration or modify these unrealistically rigid budget control measures in ways which would enable responsible and accountable leaders to exercise their responsibilities in a manner that is consistent with the challenges they face.

“Providing for the Common Defense” is a shared responsibility among the American people, the Congress, the President and the Army.  We have lost that sense of shared responsibility because of the automatic and arbitrary cuts that sequestration brings.  This creates enormous uncertainty from the halls of the Pentagon to the troops in the field and their families.

Military leaders, in order to properly execute their national security mission, need authorization authority and appropriations to be completed on time and with regular order. Operating under a series of continuing resolutions and sequestration, limits the capability to properly plan and execute a budget. 

AUSA believes that the primary source of the budget challenges that face the Department of Defense (DoD) is the devastating effect of the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011. 

Sequestration is having a profoundly adverse effect on the defense of the Nation – and it will do so well into the next decade.

What is needed is a balanced force – balanced among land, air, maritime, space, cyber, and Special Forces.  Balance is also required between active and reserve forces.  And equally important is the balance (equilibrium) between mission readiness and soldier and family programs.  But sequestration is throwing that necessary equilibrium out of whack, especially with land forces, and is creating risky, even dangerous vulnerabilities.

The recurring message from GEN Odierno and Secretary McHugh is “risk” or more significantly “serious risk”.  We have already damaged our readiness, drastically reduced our modernization programs, and programmed sharp cuts to our endstrength.  GEN Odierno has testified that continuing sequestration will ultimately limit the ability of the Army to “execute the correct defense strategy” and he noted that in his opinion that will call into question our ability to execute even ONE prolonged, multi-phase major contingency operation.

 I urge you to pay attention to this unprecedented warning.

Sequestration is patently unresponsive to the needs of this nation which is part of a rapidly changing world in which we cannot predict the future.  It creates a paradox in which the nation is locked into a creaky, slow moving, lockstep budget process that is irresponsible and unaccountable and ignores the world around it, while its defense forces must be flexible and agile.

Further, sequestration profoundly affects all parts of the national security community – the Department of State, CIA, NSA, VA and parts of the Department of Energy budgets.  Its impact on national security writ large must be considered.

Members of the committee, as you pursue your duties related to the personnel issues of the Department of Defense, I urge you to get at the root cause of the budgetary problems consuming DoD and end sequestration permanently before more damage is done and before we are left with an inadequate national defense force in 2021.”

 That is what I told Congress.  This is what I urge you to do:

 CONTACT CONGRESS to urge them to end sequestration permanently. 

Go to http://capwiz.com/ausa/home/ and submit AUSA’s prepared letter to Congress titled “End Sequestration Permanently.”   This is important!  Help us help your Army by ending sequestration.