How Did It All Come to This? Where Has The White House Leadership Been?
Sequestration appears inevitable at the end of this month. After thousands of man hours, uncountable presidential press conferences, endless partisan threats and agonizing expert testimony and frustration, it is coming.
Automatic budget cuts of about $45 billion to the Pentagon will land the hardest on the readiness of U.S. military forces. Whereas apologists for the White House stress it will be more in the area of major weapons programs, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff disagrees.
General Dempsey told reporters last Saturday that “Some of the stuff in these big procurement accounts are already locked in for this calendar year and you just can’t touch them. That’s why readiness is going to be so dramatically affected this year.”
Change-Of-Command Ceremony in Afghanistan
His remarks came at a change-of-command ceremony in Afghanistan.
Disturbing as this all seems to the nation’s military readiness, due to political failure to avoid this dramatic action, it appears to be certain. The automatic reductions in defense and domestic programs, known as sequestration, will take effect March 1 unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach agreement on an alternative plan to reduce federal deficits.
In other words, who will blink first?
The military cuts over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year would be in the neighborhood of $45 billion, or to expand this situation over a ten-year cycle, about $500 billion. Should such sequestration remain in effect for that duration (highly unlikely), around 33 percent of the budget cuts would involve reducing the overall size of U.S. forces.
General Dempsey traveled to Afghanistan to oversee the transfer of command to Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford. He takes command of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces.
Dunford replaced Marine Corps General John Allen who is the president’s choice to become Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and U.S. Forces in Europe. That nomination must be ratified by the Senate which was briefly delayed due to the general’s correspondence with a Florida woman that was briefly investigated.
No Wrongful Acts Were Uncovered
Dempsey noted that besides the sequestration fiscal nightmare, Pentagon budget planners must face the reality of $487 billion over 10 years in reductions from planned spending mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
That includes additional temporary spending measures expiring March 27 that could be extended by Congress.
The entire situation within the military’s fiscal planning is unlike any seen in the history of the United States armed forces. The stark fact that an actual budget has not been passed in the Senate the last four fiscal years has brought the nation’s military to the brink of dangerous and ongoing cuts that will dramatically change the face of the nation’s defense strategies.
President Obama…Take Charge!
There are approximately eight days for Congress and the president to resolve a crisis that has been building steadily for the last four years.
Who’s in charge here? Anyone?