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Number 1 challenge – Sequestration’s devastating effect on national defense

Friday, May 01, 2015

It is hearing season on the hill and AUSA has been active.

In addition to AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January which helped to successfully end the COLA cut for currently serving forces and current retirees, AUSA also has submitted testimony before the Joint House and Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committees and the Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

As part of those testimonies, Sullivan has honed in on the fact that sequestration is an unrealistically rigid budget control measure that is causing defense officials to face an impossible choice of deciding to fund readiness, training, education, operational activities and some modernization or fully fund soldier and family programs.

Here are some of his thoughts on sequestration and why AUSA members must band together to force Congress to end it.

AUSA believes 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.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 mitigated the sequestration spending cuts for FY 2014 and 2015.

However, the original sequestration cuts scheduled for FY 2016 thru 2021 remain in effect and will exacerbate the situation by continuing to place national security at risk.

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

Over the past two years sequestration has:

Set America on a path to reduced military readiness and national security.

Sequestered budgets are rapidly shrinking the nation’s military forces to unprecedented and even unacceptable levels thereby creating unready forces unable to accomplish the tasks assigned by the defense strategy.

All of this while, the world security environment is becoming increasingly uncertain and dangerous.

Through sequestration of the defense budget, national leaders have driven a wedge between our active military forces and our reserve and National Guard forces, most notably in the United States Army.

The irresponsibility of sequestration as a deficit reduction tactic is not only reducing the military’s war-winning capabilities to unacceptably low levels, it has created unnecessary divisiveness, acrimony, and demonization within the armed forces between service members and leaders who just months ago were serving side by side in combat.

We must enable all components of the armed forces to be adequately manned, trained and equipped to focus on the mission – and not on fighting over an arbitrarily depressed defense budget.

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 patently misguided.

How in such a dynamic and dangerous world can we be so shortsighted?

Because sequestration is so skewed against the defense budget, we now have an atmosphere of fiscal desperation that leads to false arguments and false choices when it comes to the compensation and benefits provided to the service members and families who make up the All-Volunteer Force.

Sequestration is a disruptive piece of legislation indicative of a government seemingly unable to function as a responsible democracy.

Furthermore, sequestration is patently unresponsive to the needs of a nation that is part of a rapidly changing world in which we cannot predict the future.

It locks the nation into a creaky, slow moving, lockstep budget process that is irresponsible and unaccountable and ignores the world around it.

In the coming weeks and months, Sullivan will urge you to tell Congress 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.

Get an early start, add your voice to his and contact Congress to urge them to end sequestration permanently.

Go to our website, www.ausa.org, click on the "Contact Congress" link, enter your zip code and click on the AUSA-prepared letter to Congress titled "End Sequestration Permanently."

Stay with us through this very busy time in the congressional year.