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Top Military Officials Say FY2016 Sequestration Will Threaten Current, Future Operations

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Military and Department of Defense leaders testified in front of congressional panels this week, laying out worst case scenarios that could come to fruition if sequestration is allowed to continue. While sequestration seems to some like a good idea to cut the size of government, some of the unintended victims of these cuts are members of the United States military and their families.

In a recent hearing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Senate Armed Services Committee, America’s top military officers laid out the case for scaling back cuts that have been detrimental to all branches of the uniformed services.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, told the committee headed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “We have already significantly reduced the capabilities of the United States Army, and this is before sequestration begins again in 2016. In the last 3 years, the Army’s active component end strength has been reduced by 80,000; the reserve component by 18,000.”

“It will challenge us to meet even our current level of commitments to our allies and partners around the world [and] will eliminate our capability, on any scale, to conduct simultaneous operations, specifically deterring in one region while defeating [an opposing force] in another.” – Gen. Ray Odierno

In addition to combat force reductions, sequestration has hindered command readiness by halting equipment modernization, leaving soldiers working with antiquated and faulty gear.

“We have eliminated our much needed infantry fighting vehicle modernization program [and] our scout helicopter development program,” Odierno said. “We have significantly delayed other upgrades for many of our systems and aging platforms.”

These upgrades are critical components to maintaining the best fighting force in the world.

Air Force General Mark Welsh III echoed those sentiments when he discussed the effect sequestration continues to have on his aging fleet of aircrafts.

“If World War II’s venerable B-17 Bomber had flown in the first Gulf War, it would’ve been younger than the B-52, the K-135 and the U-2 are today.  We must modernize our Air Force,” the general told committee members.

Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. highlighted the toll that sequestration has played on servicemen and women and their families.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and their families should never have to face doubts about whether they will be deployed without proper training and equipment.
Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
“Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and their families should never have to face doubts about whether they will be deployed without proper training and equipment. Sequestration will erode the trust that our young men and women in uniform, civil servants and families have in their leadership — and the cost of losing that trust is incalculable,” he said.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the lone dissenter, paints a different picture. In a statement released Monday, Dempsey said:

“Released today, the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 reverses the decline in national defense spending of the past five years. The proposed budget helps ensure we can manage risk and meet near-term defense needs while preparing for the future. However, it represents the minimum resource level necessary to remain a capable, ready and appropriately sized force able to meet our global commitments. Also know that we are as focused as ever on getting the most out of every defense dollar. Reforms are necessary to ensure we can do that and we look for forward to working with Congress as we move forward.”

This statement came mere days after General Dempsey called sequestration “absolutely crazy.”

“The combination of the Budget Control Act and the sequestration mechanism will make it impossible for us to meet our global responsibilities,” he said in an interview on January 26.

Critics say Dempsey may be putting politics first by coming out in favor of Obama’s budget proposal.

According to Under Secretary of Defense Mike McCord, there are some small breakdowns that will directly affect morale and the welfare of servicemen and women. The two most significant items involve pay for service members and various changes to the military’s Tricare health system.

According to a U.S. Department of Defense release:

“[President Obama’s FY2016 budget request] looks to consolidate Tricare health care plans with alternated deductibles/co-pays that will encourage beneficiaries to seek health care in the most appropriate setting and improve the continuity of care. DoD also looks for Congress to approve modest annual fees for Tricare-for-Life coverage for retirees 65 and older. And, the budget looks for additional changes to the pharmacy co-pay structure for retirees and active duty family members.”

Additionally, the budget allows for a 1.3 percent pay increase, which while .3 percent larger than anticipated, is a far cry from the projected cost of living increase for FY 2016. On top of that, he Tricare fee hikes are aimed at those who are already on a fixed income and can often ill afford the increase.

When coupled with increases in co-pays and deductibles, soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and their families will be facing a net loss of income while providing an increased workload due to force reductions. Naval deployments have increased from 6 months to 8 and sometimes 10 months, according to the chief of naval operations, Admiral Johnathan W. Greenert.

These changes have an overall cooling effect on recruitment and retention, as some families simply can’t afford to live on the salaries DoD provides. Extended deployments and reduced training take a toll on service members who have joined the military to be the best, but are working with substandard equipment and increased duty assignments.

This translates to problems within their families, increased stress, and an overall increase in mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse issues.

In all, sequestration seems to be a mess for the United States military and its members. While the nation’s top military officials have finally reported it to Congress, what actions Congress will take to correct these issues is unclear.

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

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162 comments
Laura Bailey
Laura Bailey

And Heaven knows it's not our military that's getting the money. Try paying them what they're owed when they're owed it!

James Demarco
James Demarco

Whenever the Pentagon is facing a budget cut, they hide behind the troops for the guilt factor. What they are really concerned with is that they will have to scale down the military/defense contractor self serving gratification game that finds the U.S. sending military equipment from the factory straight to the boneyard. Eisenhower's greatest fears have been realized...

Glenn Clay
Glenn Clay

England use to do it we took over for them

Eric Clarke
Eric Clarke

Since we are not at war... isn't this a good thing?

Larry Bowman
Larry Bowman

You tell'em General we need the best equipment and training!

Gabriel Bregg
Gabriel Bregg

The sequestration brings the military budget down to 2007 levels - you know, when we were neck deep in wars in two countries. Cut a couple of f-35s and reduce Pentagon staffing and salaries and Joe can get paid and finally develop a replacement for that POS rifle we've had to carry since Vietnam.

Scott Smith
Scott Smith

But they should accept the fact that all that training and proper equipment don't change the fact that they do not represent or fight for American freedom. They fight for the federal reserve plain and simple .

Jess Kalinowsky
Jess Kalinowsky

AND if you are going to deploy to a foreign land, for God's sake, when we come home from serving, the Veterans Administration should be there to serve us!

Joe Eller
Joe Eller

The sinking of the lusatainia brought us into ww1.the bombing of Pearl Harbor brought us into ww2.

Rob FreeMan
Rob FreeMan

Then maybe its time to stop current and future operations. The only job of the military is to repel an attack from a foreign army or aggression.

Teddi Bear
Teddi Bear

If our Military leaders wore pants then move on Obama. Take him out! Military leaders as well as the President and his cabinet swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and neither of you intend on doing so.

Larry Wineland
Larry Wineland

Politicians need to stop playing political games, and start doing a good job, like the rest of us are expected to do!

Dee Zyn
Dee Zyn

Stop following obama

Evie Glodic
Evie Glodic

We need to stop wars all together!!!!!

Frank John Mottis
Frank John Mottis

Saw this Coming throw the Vets and our Military under the bus!

Will Builder
Will Builder

I don't agree. Cut 1 f35 and they have plenty to buy equipment for the troops. I can't believe this guy is whining about a 650 billion dollar budget

Richard Koch
Richard Koch

The executive may decide where within each department cuts are made, but the amount of the cut for that department is set by the original sequestration bill. It was meant to be a poison pill so distasteful that congress would pass a budget in order to avoid it. But congress found doing its job to be the ultimate thing to avoid.

Mary Lue Walser
Mary Lue Walser

Jess you need to study the ENTIRE CONSTITUTION. NOT TAKE ONE SENTENCE out of context! That 's what is wrong with the liberal ideology. I took an entire semester in college on the Constitution. My political belief is CONSERVATIVE CONSTITUTIONALIST.

Leeah Crane
Leeah Crane

if that's true that they shouldn't vote for sequestration

Leeah Crane
Leeah Crane

sequestration will damage more than the military budget ... who else resents these bastards for holding this over I had

Clark Willis
Clark Willis

Oh well. We don't really have anyone we need to be fighting.

Elizabeth Stovall
Elizabeth Stovall

Tread carefully , hold the line on defense spending! National budget in check! Now let us began to pay down on the long term debt, put more people back to work , grow the economy!

Marty Mowdy
Marty Mowdy

All more aggression does is create more new enemies... Like the computer in the movie said, "The only way to win is not to play the game." It's time to play defense for a while, and let the other countries tend to their own internal problems while we clean up things at home.

Judy Jewell
Judy Jewell

the republicans do not give a tinker's damn about our young people going into war with or without proper training. some will come home broken, just like after viet nam, afghanistan iraq, and many will come home in flag draped coffins. the survivors will also suffer from ptsd. republicans do not care, their kids will not go.

Frederick Hartray
Frederick Hartray

Mary Sue Walser, your comment about the war against Hitler might make one even question what the US did in WWII. Here you are a person of German heritage in the US encouraging the US to invade countries and fight wars of aggression, just like hitler did.

John Jones
John Jones

When I was in the Navy 30 years ago , an ensign could afford a Porsche . An enlisted 3rd class made 20K. We pay a billion for a fighter jet to Lockheed Martin. The lobbyist for the Defense Contractors use the soldier/sailor to get your sympathy. They have 1/2 our damn GDP ALREADY! Don't buy this garbage about the poor soldier/ sailor. If they wanted to take care of us, they would. No one should join the military until they've talked to a veteran that's been disabled and gotten the whole story on how patriotic the pentagon is AFTER they're done with you.

Wayne Taylor
Wayne Taylor

An untrained President basking in the trappings, will produce an untrained and unprepared soldier.