WASHINGTON – Sequestration is causing problems in the Defense Department, but military and civilian employees are working together to get through this period, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.
In a videotaped message to the department posted on his Facebook page, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said that solid leadership at all levels is crucial to meeting the challenges sequestration imposes. Sequestration is set to add $500 billion in budget cuts to the department over 10 years on top of $487 billion in cuts already planned.
He spoke as furloughs kicked in for about 700,000 civilian DoD employees. About 85 percent of them are being furloughed one day a week through the end of the fiscal year, a total of 11 days.
“About 90 days ago, I sent a short video out to the field as the reality of sequestration came upon us – the day it was signed into law,” he said. “I asked you at that time to help us lead our way through this period of uncertainty, and you have.
“I also want to come to you today because it’s the day after some of our civilian teammates began furloughs, an outcome that I find both discouraging and disappointing. But again, I look around and I see that you are leading your way through this.
“My commitment to you is that we’ll do the same here in the Pentagon,” he continued.
Sequestration’s effects are delayed, but they are starting to become apparent – especially in readiness, Dempsey said.
“Those effects will deepen, and they will be difficult to overcome,” the chairman said. “Once again though, it will take solid leadership and communications as we try to understand what we can accomplish and what we cannot.”
Sequestration is illogical, but it is the law, Dempsey said, and the department will, of course, follow it. “We will do the best we can with it,” he said. “We’ll articulate the consequences and we’ll work our way, hopefully, toward a better outcome.”