‘Perfect Storm’ hits U.S. armed forces

Monday, April 01, 2013

As often seems the case when I write this column, defense funding is in flux.

This year is particularly interesting as we are dealing with funding for the remainder of 2013 as well as funding for 2014.

The continuing resolution that funds the Department of Defense at 2012 levels will expire on March 27.

If a Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriation Bill is not passed and DoD is required to continue to operate at 2012 funding levels for the rest of the year, the results for the Army could be devastating.

This year, a "perfect storm" has arrived in Washington with the potential implementation of sequestration and the funding of DoD by continuing resolution (CR).

Funding by CR has cost the Army $6 billion in its FY 13 operations and maintenance accounts.

If sequestration triggers (and we will know the answer to that "if" by the time you read this) then the Army loses another $6 billion.

Combined with other underfunding, the total Army shortfall in FY 13 could be $18 billion – in wartime!

The Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, has outlined the steps the Army is taking to remain effective while dealing with the lack of funding – cancelling combat training center rotations, delaying depot work and the cancellation of maintenance for vehicles that are not bound immediately for the current fight, freezing civilian hiring, potential furloughing of existing employees and laying off temporary workers.

The bottom line is: Training and therefore readiness will suffer.

Gen. Gordon Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army, is very concerned and has written senior leaders in the House and Senate a series of letters urging Congress to solve the sequestration puzzle now.

In his letters, Sullivan highlights the significant dangers posed by sequestration and the repeated use of continuing resolutions to fund the Department of Defense.

He has also visited key members of the House and Senate to urge quick action and to outline the very real dangers to national security if drastic funding cuts are implemented and the Department of Defense is not given budget predictability through several years so that end strength, modernization and readiness can be carefully balanced and a hollow force avoided.

You can add your voice to ours by going to the AUSA website, www.ausa.org, and clicking on "Legislative Agenda," then click on the "Contact Congress" button and put your zip code in by "Elected Officials" and then click on the letter titled "Stop Sequestration Now."

Read AUSA NEWS each month for the latest information on what will be an interesting legislative year.