Entries in Defense Cuts (3)


Panetta Orders First Real Sequestration Preparations; Warns of Perfect Storm

Department of Defense Photo by Glenn Fawcett(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Panetta isn’t waiting for another round of sequestration anticipation -- he’s taken action and announced the first preparations for possible budget cuts in March.

In the previous countdown to sequestration and the fiscal cliff Panetta just wished it would go away.  But not this time.  Sequestration would mean $500 billion in Defense spending cuts triggered if there’s no increase to the debt ceiling.   
“We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst,” Mr. Panetta said at a news conference Thursday afternoon with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He later said, “We simply cannot sit back now.”
Panetta has directed the military services to immediately implement what he called “prudent measures that will help mitigate our budget risk” from sequestration.  This includes a freeze on the hiring of civilians, a delay in awarding contracts and trimming facility maintenance.  He’s also directed the services to come up with detailed planning for how they’d implement sequestration because there really isn’t much time left in the fiscal year.   The planning would include unpaid furloughs for the civilian workforce.
“For now, I've made clear that these actions must be reversible to the extent feasible and must minimize harmful effects on readiness. But we really have no choice but to prepare for the worst,” Panetta said. He doesn’t know how much the moves will save.
Panetta’s opening statement also contained a warning about a “perfect storm of budget uncertainty” that could affect the Pentagon budget in March: possible sequestration cuts on March 1, the March 27 end of the temporary funding measure known as the Continuing Resolution, and an $11 billion cut in Army and Marine spending to keep funding the war in Afghanistan if the cuts take place.
“And the fact is, looking at all three of those, we have no idea what the hell's going to happen. All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness,” he said.
Panetta warned that while sequestration is supposed to trim nine percent from the DOD budget, the combination of the three factors above will actually total 19 to 20 percent in Pentagon cuts.  He said the impact on the Army would actually feel like a 30-percent cut.
Those kinds of cuts would lead to serious training cuts for Army units, reductions in ship training, cuts in flying hours for pilots and ships being pulled out of maintenance.  
Gen. Dempsey also warned that March could “set the conditions for readiness to pass a tipping point.”   
He added, “Our readiness will begin to erode. Within months, we'll be less prepared. Within a year, we'll be unprepared.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Lindsey Graham: No Defense Cuts Until Iranian Nuclear Threat Ends

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wartime is no time for defense cuts, says Lindsey Graham.

The South Carolina senator told a conservative audience on Tuesday he would oppose defense cuts in any fiscal cliff deal because “we are at war.” Without mentioning Afghanistan, Graham called out Iran, Syria, and broader instability in the Middle East.

“I want the Iranian nuclear threat to be resolved before [agreeing to] a hundred, a hundred fifty billion dollars beyond the $489 [billion]” in defense cuts already enacted in 2011, Graham said. (He apparently misspoke; the figure is $487 billion.)

Congress already shaved $487 billion from projected 10-year defense spending under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which raised the debt limit and created “sequestration” as an incentive for a broader fiscal deal. Unless a deficit-reduction deal is cut by Dec. 31, $500 billion will be cut across the board from the Pentagon.

“I want to make sure that Syria ends in a way that doesn’t blow up the entire region. The Arab Spring is a work in progress — I would like to know with some general idea how this movie ends. If we don’t know how these things unfold, then I think we’re making a very poor national security decision driven by budgets,” Graham said, in comments reported earlier by the Washington Free Beacon.

Graham warned that Iran could do “damage” to the U.S. if armed conflict arose — and that he thinks Israel lacks the capability to end Iran’s nuclear program on its own. The senator, known as a national-security hawk, pushed for maintaining military force for several reasons.

“I don’t want to go to war with China, and I don’t expect we will, but it’s always good to know that you could and win,” Graham said. “I hope military force is not necessary to stop the Iranian regime marching toward a nuclear capability, but I do know this: that if force is to be used, our capabilities need to be such that it would be decisive. My biggest fear about an Israeli attack on Iran is that they don’t have the capabilities, in my view, to bring the program to a complete end.”

At other points in his remarks, delivered at a luncheon hosted by The Weekly Standard and Concerned Veterans for America, Graham seemed willing to accept some defense cuts without any resolution to his concerns about Iran and Syria.

“You could also make the argument that we’re going to be Greece, as a nation, if we don’t get our fiscal house in order,” Graham said. ”I would entertain going past $487 billion, but the one concept I will not entertain is having a military that doesn’t make us an exceptional nation. We cannot afford that.”

Graham said the U.S. military could do “more with less” but made his opinion on sequestration clear: “I”m gonna do is say no to sequestration with all the force of my being, cause it is a dumb way to reduce defense spending.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Misses Deadline Outlining Defense Cuts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House officials Friday acknowledged that they had not met the deadline to outline how the president would make the defense cuts required by law because of the failure of the bipartisan, poorly-named Super-committee to agree on $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

Because of the failure of the Super-committee, a self-imposed sword of Damocles will fall, requiring $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that neither Democrats nor Republicans desire, specifically $109 billion from Pentagon and domestic spending in just the next year. These cuts are called the “sequester.”

One month ago, the president signed the “Sequestration Transparency Act,” a law that imposed upon him a 30-day deadline to outline what Pentagon spending will be cut. That deadline was Thursday night.

White House press secretary Jay Carney Friday said White House officials would hand in their assignment next week.

In a statement, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who authored the bill said that “Americans of all stripes are required to play by the rules and follow the laws of the land. Unfortunately, by disregarding the sequestration reporting deadline, the Obama Administration seems to think it is above the law. The American people deserve to know the president’s plan for implementing these cuts, some of which our military leaders have said will compromise our nation’s ability to protect itself. Every day that the administration delays being transparent with the American people on the sequester moves us one day closer to going over the fiscal cliff.”

These cuts are set to take effect on Jan. 1, coinciding with the expiration of $4 trillion in lower tax rates enacted into law by President Bush and extended by President Obama. Combined with the expiration of a payroll tax cut, the whole shebang -- assuming no compromise is reached to delay the massive tax increases and spending cuts -- is referred to as the “Fiscal Cliff.”

It’s all part of the deal over raising the debt ceiling reached in August and July 2011 between President Obama and congressional leaders.

The Super-committee (which is to committees as Supercuts is to cuts, as Jimmy Kimmel once quipped) failed to arrive at any agreement because Republicans were generally unwilling to go along with tax increases and Democrats were generally unwilling to agree on re-structuring any “entitlement” programs such as Medicare.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio