Press Releases

Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon released the following statement today regarding the Obama Administration’s new defensive strategy and military posture: 

“Today Secretary Panetta announced how he will execute the President’s direction to cut $47 billion from his original request for FY13 military spending.  Contrary to those who would assert that this budget still represents an increase in defense spending, clearly this budget is a real cut in military spending. 

“To achieve these reductions, the President has abandoned the defense structure that has protected America for two generations; turning 100,000 Soldiers and Marines out of the force.  To compensate for this loss, he will build on unmanned assets and Special Forces.  To be clear, these asymmetric assets are a vital component in defending America; but they are insufficient to meet the manifold security challenges America faces.   

“This move ignores a critical lesson in recent history: that while high technology and elite forces give America an edge, they cannot substitute for overwhelming ground forces when we are faced with unforeseen battlefields. 

“These cuts reflect President Obama’s vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform.  This is a vision at odds with the President’s empty praise on Tuesday evening, and one I fundamentally disagree with.  To be clear, the impacts of these cuts are far deeper than Congress envisioned in the Budget Control Act because of strategic choices the President has made. 

“Last year, when the Super Committee failed, I pledged that I would not be the Chairman who would preside over the hollowing out of our military.  I renew that commitment today.  This month the House Armed Services Committee will continue and intensify our rigorous oversight, keeping in mind that while the President proposes, Congress disposes.”

 

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Fact Sheet: Unnecessary Risk in an Uncertain World

Today, Secretary Panetta announced sweeping cuts to our military to comply with the President’s new defense strategy.  Below is a summary of the capabilities our military will lose and the impact of those reductions. 

Repeats the Mistakes of the Past. The United States did not choose the time and place of 9/11 attacks. We will not have the luxury of choosing a future conflict, but we do have the ability to prepare for the possibility – if we choose. The military responded admirably in 2001, but our force was ill prepared and too small. The last ten years of war have taught us a valuable lesson. After every major conflict in the last century, the United States has cut its military, only to have to painstakingly rebuild it the next time our security is threatened. Sadly, the strategy repeats the mistakes of the past. To this point, the President’s guidance states, “…U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations,” despite the fact that our mission in Afghanistan is not over and that history has taught us this is a perilous course – one that is unnecessarily costly in both lives and treasure. 

  • Ground Forces
    • Reduction of 100,000 Soldiers and Marines fails to learn from the past.
    • We will go down from 100 Army maneuver battalions today to 84 battalions.
    • Remaining Army forces, already suffering from a decade of war and twenty years of decay, will not be modernized.
    • The Army and Marine Corps requires resetting damaged and worn equipment after a decade of conflict. This budget stops our ability to fix and maintain worn equipment.
    • Marine end strength will be nearly 5,000 troops below the “red line” set by the General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
    • End strength reductions will lead the Administration to request two BRAC rounds beginning this year. 

Anti-access & the Asia Pacific. The ability to ensure U.S. dominance in power projection is a priority that spans domains and regions. It is particularly critical in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, two regions that host vital US economic and security interests. Despite a clear and pressing need for the new budget does not appear to prioritize capabilities to overcome anti-access/area denial challenges; rather, it merely states that Department of Defense “will invest as required”. This is concerning, particularly in light of the strategy’s vision for a reduced global posture, which helps to ensure our ability to project power and maintain stability. While the strategy plans to rebalance forces toward the Asia Pacific, it provides no commitment to additional capabilities in an already under-resourced region. Rather, the shift toward Asia appears to come at the expense other regions, where we have forces in combat. This is a dangerous and ill-advised shift. 

  • Pivot to Asia in Question
    • In Asia, numbers matter when it comes to naval presence.
    • Today there are 288 ships in the Navy – 25 below the 313 minimum requirement – under this budget the Navy will have 19 fewer ships then planned, representing almost 15% fewer ships than the Chief of Naval Operations has said the Nation requires.
    • To accomplish the pivot to the Pacific, one must assume that the Atlantic Fleet force structure will be sharply reduced. 
  • Power Projection Weakened
    • “Tyranny of distance” in Asia Pacific – sustaining forces deployed at far distances will be challenged.
      • Reduction of Air Lift (both strategic and tactical) from 624 to 521 planes.
    • The Libya operation revealed that military operations in Europe and Africa require substantial lift capabilities. Afghanistan’s unforgiving terrain and isolated nature already consumes critical airlift capacity.
    • Half-century stabilizing presence in Europe whittled down to a skeleton force.  

Commitments to key Allies Strained. Friends and Allies in Europe and the Middle East will question U.S.  ability to meet its security commitments. Threats posed by adversaries, such as Iran, requires increased investments in anti-access capabilities and missile defense technology. Drastically reducing our ground forces, while potential threats and strategic challenges grow, places heavy pressure on our remaining troops, and could arrest our ability to decisively honor our commitments to our allies. 

  • Alliances Weakened
    • Theatre Missile Defense Assets stretched – with fewer naval assets, our multi-mission assets will be unable to be strictly dedicated to missile defense.
    • Reduction in of Brigade Combat Teams in Europe will require US supporting defense of Israel operations to come from another theatre or the United States. This may delay response time and could interfere with planning and exercises. 

Industrial Capacity at Risk. America’s industrial base was not built overnight. It took decades to acquire the skilled labor, assembly lines, shipyards, labs, and technical experts needed to keep our troops the best equipped fighting force in the world. Industry cannot be turned on and off like a light switch, it requires a steady, enduring partnership that allows for innovation, expertise, and growth. 

  • Industrial Impact
    • Shutdown of production lines will result in loss of highly skilled manufacturing jobs.
    • Delays in production will increase costs to taxpayer and will result in near term layoffs. High skilled manufacturing jobs will be lost.
    • Budget accepts risk to the industrial base and acknowledges that key skills cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the economy or regenerated quickly.

 

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