With military budget on cutting block, armed forces look to Super Committee to broker deal
A failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to strike a $1.5 trillion budget cut deal, or a later decision by Congress to reject the plan, could lead to automatic and devastating consequences for the nation’s military and the defense industrial base, a Pentagon spokesman warned.
If either of those scenarios takes place, press secretary George Little said, “we would be looking at, in all likelihood, the smallest Army and Marine Corps in decades, the smallest tactical Air Force since [the branch] was established and the smallest Navy in nearly 100 years.”
Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/george_little_125.jpgGeorge Little
Automatic cuts to the Defense Department would take place, through the 2011 Budget Control Act’s sequestration mechanism, if the Committee members don’t offer a plan to reduce the deficit by Nov. 24. The cuts would also take place if the whole of Congress fails to adopt a plan by the Committee in December.
For the Defense Department, that means another $500 billion from defense spending over 10 years, on top of $350 billion in cuts already identified over the same period.
The department has been looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been adamant, Little said, that moving to sequestration would be a “devastating” scenario for the nation’s security.
The secretary “has reiterated time and time again that we don’t have to choose between our fiscal security and our national security,” Little said, “but if we go to sequestration, we would very well have to make that choice.
Little said that $1 trillion in cuts would make it necessary for the Pentagon to break faith in some areas — including jobs and salary benefits — with those in uniform who are serving the nation.
“In a time of war,” he said, “that’s unacceptable.”
At the Pentagon, internal analysis shows that sequestration also would have a profound impact on the U.S. industrial base, he added, by threatening many of the 3.8 million military and civilian jobs that the sector represents.
“We’re not talking about just military jobs, we’re also talking about jobs in the private sector that support the innovation and creativity and capabilities that we need to keep America strong,” he said.
Moving to sequestration and the additional budget cuts it would require, department officials believe “would potentially add 1 percent to the national unemployment rate,” Little said.
Panetta, he added, has made Congress aware of the consequences of such deep defense cuts.
“We want to make it very clear [to everyone] that sequestration is a red line that this government should not cross,” Little said.