At the moment the biggest threat to future Army readiness is sequestration, and we are developing an AUSA strategy to guide us as groups come together to attack sequestration as being an irresponsible example of governance by robot. Certainly it is governance without discernment, prioritization or accountability and a very risky way to maintain the credibility and viability of our national defense posture.
The automatic, mindless cuts imposed by sequestration weaken our nation in many ways. It has created successive years of defense budgetary instability that has caused program cuts, civilian employee furloughs, compromised military training and readiness and a reduced ability to retain highly-qualified military personnel. As George Marshall said in 1941, “It is no easy matter to build up the highly trained and seasoned fighting forces that we must have available as quickly as possible.” Yet we are about to downsize our Army and let go of thousands of seasoned warfighters and leaders.
Now, the president’s newly released budget reflects the folly of sequestration in its funding of a Total Army that is too small to protect the nation in very uncertain times and in its proposals to limit pay raises, while increasing the costs of medical care, housing and commissaries for the 1 percent of Americans who volunteer to serve in our armed forces – Active, National Guard and Army Reserve.
Without the draconian cuts of sequestration, a rational defense budget could be crafted that would provide appropriate national security spending to counter the global threat of international terrorism and aggressive nationalism. To maintain national security we must have military forces that are efficient and effective, well-prepared and smart. They must be well-equipped, capable and responsive – and there must be enough of them!
Without sequestration, fiscal pressure on the defense budget would be lessened so that there would be no need to target Soldier and military retiree benefits in misguided attempts to solve our financial problems on the backs of Soldiers.
As I have said before, the way to have military forces trained and ready to fight and capable of decisive victory is to invest in America’s future, not to gut defense spending with an irresponsible hands-off approach to one of the most fundamental needs of our nation – our national defense.