Is it too early to start counting down to the January 2013 spending cuts that will hit the defense budget under “sequestration”? Or maybe rather than counting the days, we can simply count the reasons why these cuts are a dangerous idea that will undermine our military’s readiness.
Today’s case in point: Pentagon officials testifying in Congress yesterday pointed out that training for troops will be on the chopping block if the arbitrary cuts go through. Stars and Stripes reports:
Automatic spending cuts scheduled for January will mean less training for troops headed to Afghanistan, sharp reductions in commissary hours and potential refusal of some medical appointments for military families, a senior defense official told Congress.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called the result “senseless chaos” for thousands of military programs, echoing warnings from top Pentagon and congressional leaders.
“It is not possible to devise a plan that mitigates these consequences substantially,” he said. “This will cause serious disruptions throughout the department.”
Some military personnel and veterans have been down this path before; they may remember earlier days, especially in the National Guard and Reserves, when funding shortages meant there wasn’t enough ammunition to actually fire their weapons in training. It should go without saying, of course, that sending men and women into combat without adequate training and preparation isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It will literally cost lives.
The Stars and Stripes article is just the latest in the stream of evidence proving that our leaders in Washington need to act to avert these disastrous cuts, and seek a balanced solution to our spending woes. If you want to cut defense—and the defense budget is a ripe target full of waste and inefficiency—at least do so in a smart, sensible, targeted manner.
In case you missed it, yesterday I published a piece over at Military.com arguing against the sequestration cuts based on the impact they’ll have on national security—and proposing a plan for how Washington can get spending under control.