Defense

July 2, 2012

Sequestration threatens military’s successes

by Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

The nation’s military has logged historic achievements in the past 12 months, but faces a future clouded by financial threat, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said June 29.

The secretary and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both spoke about the topic of sequestration during a briefing with Pentagon reporters.

Panetta summed up the department’s main activities since he became Defense Secretary last summer, noting that the Iraq War has ended, a “responsible drawdown” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has begun, and the NATO mission in Libya concluded alongside the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

The department has also “maintained a relentless focus on al-Qaida,” and put in place a new defense strategy and a budget request focused on the future force and rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, the secretary said.

DOD has also maintained faith with troops by protecting pay and benefits, and has increased employment opportunities for veterans and spouses, he noted.

“We implemented the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Panetta said. “We’ve also opened up 14,000 military positions to women, and we’ve put in place enhanced measures to prevent sexual assault.”

The biggest threat to all of those accomplishments and initiatives is sequestration, he said.

Sequestration is a mechanism built into the Budget Control Act that will trigger an additional half-trillion-dollar cut to defense spending over the next 10 years if Congress doesn’t otherwise identify spending reductions the act requires.

Panetta said the uniformed men and women he’s met in war zones, and the wounded warriors he’s visited in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers, “deserve better than the threat of sequestration.”

“Too often today, the nation’s problems are held hostage to the unwillingness to find consensus and compromise,” the secretary said.

Next week on the Fourth of July Americans will celebrate their nation’s birth, he noted.

“It is a time for our leaders and for every American to recognize that the blessings of freedom are not free,” Panetta said. “They come from a legacy of sacrifice, of courage and of leadership. That legacy is now our responsibility to fulfill, so that hopefully our children can enjoy a better life in the future.”

Panetta said the defense industry leaders he has consulted with also face an uncertain future which could include widespread layoffs and lasting damage to the nation’s military modernization programs.

“We are very much a team,” he said. ” … [Defense] companies, as well as the Defense Department, are making very clear to Capitol Hill that this is a matter that ought not to be postponed.”

The department and the nation’s defense industries seek assurance from Congress that sequestration won’t happen and that “we can proceed with the budget as we’ve outlined [it], as opposed to facing … the possibility of another drastic defense cut,” the secretary said.

Dempsey said his travels in recent weeks, as well as over the past year, have brought him into contact with a wide range of service members.

“At every stop … I was struck by their tremendous sense of pride and commitment,” the chairman said. He praised service members’ courage, selflessness, intelligence, and dedication to the mission.

“They’ll do anything to take care of this country,” he said.

Dempsey said he was also struck by troops’ concern over the budget.

“I find it encouraging, on the one hand, that our military family is informed and interested,” he said. “But it’s unfortunate that it weighs so heavily on their minds. Frankly, they have enough to worry about.”

The chairman noted, “We have to remember, too, that the force of the future — that is, America’s sons and daughters who may be out there contemplating a military career — are also watching.”

Dempsey said as Panetta has made clear, “We simply have to come together to prevent this across-the-board, unbalanced cut that could jeopardize our ability to deal with the very real and serious threats that we face.”

The chairman said he and the service chiefs have no issue with military budgets facing scrutiny in the current challenging budget climate, or with the need to make tough program decisions.

“That’s why our strategy and the budget that supports it constitute a carefully balanced set of choices,” Dempsey said. “These choices make sure we have the right talent and the right tools to keep our country immune from coercion.”

Dempsey said he, the secretary and the joint chiefs seek a balanced approach.

“A sensible way forward is what we expect,” the chairman said. “That’s the only way we can honor our commitment to our military family and to the American people.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Matt Hecht

Laser-based aircraft countermeasure provides ‘unlimited rounds’ against MANPADS

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Matt Hecht A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter prepares to depart Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Jan 7, 2012. The Apache conducts distributed operations, precision strikes against relocat...
 
 

Navy, Air Force advocate for modernizing combat aviation

Top Navy and Air Force officials today told the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2016 will support modernizing combat aviation programs. Cavy Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisitions; Air...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Victor J. Caputo

McConnell community marks B-29 rollout

Air Force photograph by SrA. Victor J. Caputo A B-29 Superfortress aircraft, named Doc after its nose art, sit on the flightline March 23, 2015, in Wichita, Kan. Doc will be one of two Superfortresses in the world capable of fl...
 

 

Future USS John Finn launched

The future USS John Finn (DDG 113) was launched at the Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard March 28. During launch the drydock was flooded allowing the 637-foot floating dock to slowly submerge until the ship was afloat. Once the drydock was fully submerged, the ship was pulled by tugs to HII’s south berth...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

First production QF-16 arrives at Tyndall

Courtesy photograph Maintainers begin post-flight checks on the first Lot 1 production model QF-16 after it arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., March 11. The aircraft is the first of 13 deliveries to the 82nd Aerial Target...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Dustin Mullen

E-9A Widget, one of a kind

Air Force photograph by A1C Dustin Mullen An E-9A Widget sits on the flight line in front of hangar 5 Mar. 3 at the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron. The Widget is a modified version of the Bombardier Dash-8, formerly Canadian De Ha...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>