Defense: As sequestration looms and an advocate of military budget cuts prepares to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense, the Army reports that it will have to cut base operations by almost a third, jeopardizing its missions.
'The readiness of our Armed Forces is at a tipping point," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a Jan. 14 letter also signed by the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
The letter was written as the Pentagon braces for a looming $52 billion shortfall this fiscal year if Congress and the White House do not reach a deal by March 1 to avoid across-the-board cuts under sequestration rules mandated by the Budget Control Act and by the failure of the Obama administration to restrain its reckless nondefense spending.
In the letter, Dempsey further warned that "we are on the brink of creating a hollow force," because under the current budget conditions and legislation, the Pentagon could be ordered to keep a number of troops it can't sustain.
Dempsey's remarks echoed those of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a recent appearance at the National Defense University.
"Very simply, it would result in hollowing out the force," he said of further sequestration reductions on top of existing budget cuts, alluding to reductions made in the aftermath of the Vietnam War that left Army units undermanned and ill-equipped. "It would terribly weaken our ability to respond to the threats in the world."
A Jan. 6 Department of the Army memo titled "Risk Mitigation In The Face Of Fiscal Uncertainty" says the Army will seek to slash its base operations budget by 30% from fiscal year 2012 to make ends meet.
It asks that commanders "who believe that this action will harm mission-critical activities should indicate their reasoning and propose alternate courses of action."
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