The Defense Drumbeat Blog

Apr 01 2013

Sequester Continues to Damage National Security; Military Kids Also Hit Hard

The House-passed FY14 Budget would offer our troops and their families some relief and shield them from further damage under sequestration – the third cut to our military in the President's four years in office.

Budget Cuts Hit Military Kids Especially Hard
Ben Tracy
CBS News

Nearly $2 billion in federal funding is being trimmed from public schools across the country - part of the budget sequester that went into effect a month ago. It's schools in military communities, however, that are especially hard hit.

Tiffany Cook's father, Col. Brian Cook, is on his way to Afghanistan. It is his fifth overseas deployment with the Army since 2004.   ...

She's worried that her school counselor will lose her job due to budget cuts. Cook will visit her once a week while her dad is deployed.  ... 

"You should have excellent schools for our military that has done so much for us, and to cut them is just callous," Jackson [School Superintendent] said.

Why We Still Need To Stop Sequestration
By Mark D. Shackelford and Rebeccah Heinrichs
AOL Defense 

…These cuts are biting into meat rather than fat because they come on top of several previous cuts. In the Obama Administration's first term, Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta eliminated $1 trillion dollars from defense. Sequestration cuts therefore necessitate reduced procurement (fewer airplanes, ships, missiles and tanks), deferred construction (of military schools, runway maintenance, and family housing) and foregone training(essential for optimal preparedness).

Sequestration's need-blind cuts produce a sad irony: The spending reductions create inefficiencies rather than eliminate them. For example, the Pentagon will place civilian workers on unpaid furloughs. This includes not just the people who repair weapons systems, creating a costly deferred-maintenance problem, but the people who audit the Pentagon's performance to make sure programs operate efficiently.

For the longer term, Washington needs to return to regular budget order. The President's FY 2014 budget was due, by law, on Feb. 4. He has now promised to submit it by April 10. The two-month delay is not inconsequential. Congress needs to see a defense budget from the President so they can evaluate his defense priorities and assess whether or not the vulnerabilities his military budget would create are acceptable.

Above all, Washington must recognize that it is not asking the military to do less. As rogue regimes from North Korea to Iran to Syria edge ever closer to Administration-defined "red lines," the odds increase that our servicemen and women will be asked to do more. Yet sequestration insists that they do more with less. That is the best recipe for the hollow force.

The President and Congress must find common ground to undo sequestration's deleterious effects on defense in the short term while resolving to restore funding to needed levels in the longer term. Savings should not come at the cost of readiness. And Washington must not let the federal spending crisis precipitate a national security crisis.