The Center for Security Policy (CSP) today wrote a letter to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee warning of the dire national security and economic implications of another round of reductions in Pentagon spending and the inadvisability of entrusting leadership of the Defense Department to someone like Senator Chuck Hagel who has favored such cuts in the past.
The center pointed out highlights in the letter, the actions now being contemplated by the armed services in anticipation of the $500 billion decreases mandated by the so-called “sequestration” mechanism established under the Budget Control Act of 2011. It notes that, despite the fact that Mr. Hagel stated concerns during his confirmation hearing about the effect sequestration would have on military preparedness, prior to his nomination, he had described the defense budget as “bloated.”
The letter said in full:
“As you know, the Department of Commerce recently reported that defense spending plummeted 22% in the fourth quarter, contributing to the U.S. economy contracting at a 0.1 annual rate in that quarter. This development underscores the reality that further cuts in defense spending will not only hollow-out our military and jeopardize the national security in an increasingly dangerous threat environment. They would cause extremely negative effects on our struggling economy, as well.
The economic impact will be most directly felt, of course, in the defense sector and the industrial base that provides crucial support to our men and women in uniform. But, as the enclosed summary of the projected repercussions in your state make clear, taken together with indirect effects – notably on women-, minority-, veteran- and handicapped-owned businesses – what happened to the Gross Domestic Product in the last quarter will be but a foretaste of what is is coming.
It is, in short, imperative that sequestration – which would reduce the defense budget over the next ten years by $500 billion, on top of the $487 billion in cuts effectuated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the $300 billion in cuts under then-Secretary Robert Gates – be reversed. The cuts must be found elsewhere.
As you are also aware, the armed services have finally been allowed to begin planning for these cuts and the severe damage that will be done to our defense capabilities is becoming evident.
Their preparations include: cut-backs in deployments that will sharply reduce American presence in flash points like the Persian Gulf and the Western Pacific; longer deployments for those units in harm’s way; unwise reductions in force structure; deferring of needed maintenance; cuts in necessary training; and serious personnel turbulence arising from the foregoing and lay-offs of temporary and contract workers, hiring freezes and furloughs of civilian personnel. (I am enclosing an illustrative list of some of more ominous changes now in prospect unless sequestration is reversed.)
It is particularly worrying that Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, has a checkered record with respect to the advisability of further decline in defense spending. On the one hand, in materials the nominee submitted recently to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Hagel said: “[Sequestration] would harm military readiness and disrupt each and every investment program.…Based on my assessment to date, I share [Secretary Panetta’s] concerns. I urge the Congress to eliminate the sequester threat permanently and pass a balanced deficit-reduction plan.”
Yet, during an interview with the Financial Times in 2011 – weeks after the President signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, which already contained $487 billion in defense cuts on top of $300 billion in previous cuts under then-Secretary Gates – Sen. Hagel stated: “The Defense Department, I think in many ways has been bloated…I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down”.
Given the gravity of the harm that defense sequestration will cause to our national security and economy, we respectfully suggest that you and your colleagues need to know: Is Chuck Hagel actually still committed to more “paring” of our defenses, despite the abundant evidence that it will assuredly hollow-out the military and wreak additional havoc on our GDP?
The postponement of today’s scheduled Armed Services Committee vote on Mr. Hagel’s nomination affords an opportunity for every Senator to establish the unacceptability of more cuts – and to ensure that our military is neither saddled with sequestration nor a Secretary of Defense who really favors it.”
CSP included with the letter to the senators was a list of the cuts that branches of the military are planning to take unless sequestration is reversed, as well as summary versions of the Center for Security Policy’s comprehensive report, America’s Defense Breakdown, highlighting the projected state and local economic impacts of defense sequestration for each senator’s state.
A more in-depth version of this report can be found at the For the Common Defense coalition Internet portal.
Last week, an editorial by Defense News stated that as the U.S. military draws down, the ugly picture of the sequestration’s military cuts would be a military that looks good on paper, but incapable of performing as expected.
The Center for Security Policy wonders if Chuck Hagel will have what it takes to resist additional cuts out of the Pentagon and our Armed Forces.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, said “Given the gravity of harm that defense sequestration will cause to our national security and economy, Senators need to ask themselves: What does Chuck Hagel actually believe about further cutting defense? And can he be trusted to resist additional, devastating hollowing out of our military?”