Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today’s hearing, “Initial Conclusions Formed by the Defense Strategic Choices and Management Review”:

Thank you Mr. Chairman.  And I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing before us today.  You have extremely hard jobs, and I am afraid that we in Congress have not made them any easier by allowing sequestration to take effect. 

The single biggest take away from Strategic Choices Management Review is that Congress, by allowing sequestration to continue, is abdicating its constitutional responsibility to responsibly fund the military and to provide for the common defense. Through sequestration, Congress is forcing the Department of Defense to make some extremely difficult decisions that will undermine military readiness and put more unneeded stress on our troops, civilian employees, and military retirees

I hope our witnesses today can help us understand the pain that sequestration will cause next year and into the future.  I would ask them to walk us through those choices that will have to be made and those risks that will be imposed.  And we should be clear—when we talk about risk in the context of the Department of Defense, we mean that military conflicts will go on longer or our response will be slower and smaller and those translate to greater loss of life.

Without a doubt, the Department of Defense must become more efficient, and Congress will have to help them do that.  But sequestration will continue to force the Department to make unacceptable cuts to force structure, modernization, and benefits for our military personnel and retirees, creating significant readiness shortfalls.  The SCMR drives home the point that continued budget policies of fiscal austerity and intentionally starving the Federal Government of revenue put our national security at risk.

We are already on a path to significant deficit reductions.  I am in favor of simply lifting sequestration and ceasing to impose these dramatic costs on our military.  Those who refuse to end sequestration have the responsibility of proposing a balanced package of revenue increases and spending cuts that do not harm our national security. Those who refuse are allowing sequestration, and the significant harm it causes, to persist.

In particular, those who continue to insist on tax cuts above all else have a responsibility to answer the question: how much military risk are you willing to take to preserve your tax cut?

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and again, I very much appreciate the witnesses appearing here today.