A letter from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership outlined some of the current effects sequestration is having on the department as well as summarized the department’s initial contingency plan for fiscal 2014 if sequestration continues and the department is hit with a $52 billion budget cut.
The letter confirms what the Association of the United States Army has been saying – that the current sequestration is severely damaging military readiness.
Hagel says that if sequestration continues, the department would be forced to:
Reduce operations and maintenance (O&M) accounts by 10 percent
Reduce modernization accounts by 15- to 20 percent
Halt all accessions
End all permanent-change-of-station moves
Stop discretionary bonuses
Freeze all promotions
Reduce end strength more rapidly than planned
Implement mandatory civilian reductions-in-force
Further reduce military training
But, according to Hagel’s letter, Congress could avoid exacerbating these serious training and readiness issues if only they would accept proposals that would increase TRICARE fees, slow growth in military pay raises and implement another round of Base Realignment and Closures.
AUSA is disappointed.
Disappointed that once again the secretary’s message portrays service members and other beneficiaries as unworthy of the compensation they have earned.
It also implies that they are the cause of declining readiness. It demonizes that small portion of the American people who have and continue to sacrifice the most.
We are also disappointed that DoD continues to pit sustainment of the military’s most valuable long term resource – the All Volunteer Force – against short-term operations and maintenance (O&M) costs.
It is a specious argument, especially given recent reports of over $100 billion of waste in the budget.
The White House, Senate and the House of Representatives refuse to recognize the disastrous effect it is having on the military and civilians.
Our representatives must sit down at the table and hammer out a solution to a serious solution instead of indulging in the blame game.
Former Defense Secretary (and this year’s AUSA Marshall Award recipient) Robert Gates said it best when discussing sequestration in a recent interview.
He said, "There may be a stupider way to do things, but I can’t figure out what it is. The result is a hollow military, and we will pay for it in the same way we’ve paid for it every time we’ve done this in the past and, this is, in the next conflict – and there will be a next conflict – with the blood of our soldiers."