In a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, all four of the chiefs of America’s armed forces warned of dire consequences if something isn’t done about mindless across-the-board cuts that have no relation to policy or requirements.
They warned that it would require them to craft a new national defense strategy while possibly losing their ability to conduct two major operations simultaneously. They won’t be able to defeat an enemy and defend the homeland at the same time. We would only be on a defensive footing if attacked.
Military leaders have repeatedly warned Congress that looming spending cuts could jeopardize weapons buying, force readiness, battlefield capabilities and worldwide military dominance.
Services are said to be cut to the bone and upcoming cuts are far more dangerous.
At Wednesday’s congressional hearing before the Armed Services Committee, Army Chief of Staff General Odierno said his force is as ‘unready as at any other point in its 239-year history’.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the panel “we’re now the smallest Air Force we’ve ever been.”
He stated that the service’s fleet is older than it has ever been, and 12 fleets would qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia — if they were automobiles, that is.
Welsh said if sequester kicks in again, the Air Force would be unable to defeat one foe while holding off another and “defending the homeland.”
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford said that while his is “the best trained and equipped” force,investments in new hardware are at “historically low levels.” Sequestration will leave them unable to meet the requirements of the country’s current defense strategy.
Gen. Dunford said continued sequestration cuts could force Marines to move to a one-to-one deployment ratio: seven months deployed, seven months at home, then seven months deployed again. As it stands now, Marines have about a 14 month break in the U.S. between deployments.
“Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and their families should never have to face doubts about whether they will be deployed without proper training,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, said at Wednesday’s hearing. “The cost of losing that trust is incalculable.”
Missions already underway are at risk, he said.
“If sequestration hits again, he will remove tens of thousands more soldiers, and end, restructure or otherwise change “all” of its acquisition programs, resulting in a “40 percent modernization decrease,” General Odierno warned (photo above).
All four warned of future retention and recruitment problems because of declining trust among soldiers. We aren’t willing to invest in them. They’ve already seen an erosion in trust because they are going to be deployed without proper training and equipment.
We did that in Vietnam. Soldiers would receive crates of rifles without magazines. Politicians ran the war instead of the generals.
At an Association of the United States Army breakfast event, General Odierno cautioned that we are “moving towards a hollow Army” if cuts continue over the next 3-5 years.
Odierno noted that the Army’s modernization funding has already been cut by nearly 50 percent.
We’re not investing in training, we’re not investing in equipment and expecting soldiers to somehow pick up the slack. They won’t have the ability to conduct various missions around the world.
Odierno warned, “I believe this is the most uncertain time I’ve seen in our national security since I’ve been in uniform.”
The military is heading for a slow rate of decline until a crisis hits because of gridlock on Capitol Hill. Congress is divided about what to cut in the budget.
Most Democrats and Republicans oppose defense sequestration which came to being with the 2011 Budget Control Act as part of the agreement to raise the debt ceiling. Defense spending was tied to the overall budget debate, taxes and entitlement programs.
It’s an illogical across-the-board automatic cut, half aimed at defense, because Congress can’t agree on what to cut and how much to cut.
We now face war with ISIS, a growing threat from al Qaeda, an unrecognized increased threat from Iran and the military has been engaged to fight Ebola in Africa, a continent we generally ignore.
The upcoming cuts are said to be far more serious. Until now, Congress has offset many of the worst cuts mandated by sequestration.
Defense spending is slated to be cut by $40 billion is fy2016. The cap on Pentagon spending is $499 billion and even President Obama has proposed a $534 billion base defense budget.
However, if the spending exceeds the cap without changing sequestration law, the Pentagon could be hit with across-the-board cuts back down to $499 billion.
“Despite an accumulating array of complex threats to our national interests … we are on track to cut $1 trillion from America’s defense budget by 2021,” SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. “If we in Congress do not act, sequestration will return in full in fiscal year 2016, setting our military on a far more dangerous course.”
In frustration, McCain said,”We have heard all of this from our top military commanders before, yet there are still those that say, ‘Never fear. The sky didn’t fall under sequestration,'” he said. “What a tragically low standard for evaluating the wisdom of government policy.”
Calls to end the senseless 2011 Budget Control Act – sequestration – have been met with inaction in Congress because the two sides cannot agree on the budget which is why it came to being in the first place.
It has put the military on a dangerous course.
McCain, frustrated at those who say the sky didn’t fall, said that “the sky doesn’t need to fall for military readiness to be eroded, for military capabilities to atrophy, or for critical investments in maintaining American military superiority to delayed, cut, or canceled.”
Senator Graham said Congress and the president share the blame.
“I don’t mean to beat on the president, I think that applies to us too. We created this mess,” he said. “Congress is in the same boat, we don’t have a plan.”
Little is being mentioned of looming threats from Russia and China. They are showing signs of joining forces with various deals they’ve made.
Russia’s Armed Forces are second to the United States, China is third. Russia and China are building up their forces and defense systems. The United States is cutting back.
Russia is expanding their potential power through land expansion and military buildup.
When the Soviet Union devolved into Russia, they kept its nuclear capabilities which is equal to ours and they are currently upgrading their submarine fleet.
They are showing a desire to expand their control of land with invasions in Georgia in 2008 and the current incursion into Ukraine and possibly the Baltics where Russia is stirring up hostilities among the Russian-born and Russian descendant populations in those States.
Putin is ready to use military force to establish Russian hegemony in its neighboring States. Their neighbors cannot put up a conventional military fight.
The way they are fighting the war in Ukraine, allows them to gradually take the country over without triggering NATO. Ukraine applied for NATO membership but has been rejected. No one wants to go to war over Ukraine.
Russia is fighting a secret war. Russian troops went into Crimea with blacked out license plates and insignias. They couldn’t be separated out from local insurgents, making it unclear how culpable they are of launching a war.
It’s hard to go to war with a country when you don’t know what they are actually doing.
President Barack Obama in a visit to Estonia in September, reassured the Baltic States that, “The defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius, is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris and London.”
Hopefully, he can be trusted to hold to this red line.
It’s not just the Baltics, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria are all worried.
NATO could overpower Russia at the present time but Russia could strike at any moment and we have not set up any forces to warn them away.
Chinese now have global strike capability. They are capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.
A rising China and a Russia becoming increasingly aggressive will make us compete for global influence and power.
China has a fast-growing submarine force according to Reuters to include the Jin-class ballistic nuclear submarines. It marks China’s first credible at-sea-second-strike nuclear capability.
Iran is President Obama’s unrecognized threat. They are developing nuclear weapons and a system by which to launch them thousands of miles from their bases.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un appears to be restarting his nuke program.
This is not the time to make mindless cuts based on no strategy and with no connection to the requirements of our defensive military structure.