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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Defense Cuts Will Put Nations Security At Risk
A doomsday clock
of budget cuts disproportionately targeting the Defense Department and set to
strike midnight at the first of next year as experts are now saying it’s time to prepare for the
To be sure, the
facts are grim. Sequestration, the product of failure by a Super-committee last
July to root $1.2 trillion of excess spending out of the U.S. budget, means an
automatic round of spending cuts, half of which, or up to $600 billion over the
next decade, will fall across the Defense Department.
In the best-case
scenario, Defense officials would be permitted by the Office of Management and
Budget to administer the cuts themselves, choosing the programs they deem
appropriate for trimming. In the worst case, the ax will fall across every
defense program equally, taking roughly nine percent off the top without regard
The incomes of about 80 Defense Force staff on
overseas postings will be slashed on January 1, next year when their cost of
living allowances are cut.
The staff affected have no way of protesting or
negotiating as their counterpart in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are doing
through the PSA and Foreign Service Association.
Any public criticism of the unilateral move by the Defense
Force would probably cost them their jobs. But I have learned of deep unhappiness in
the ranks at the move, which is forecast to save $5.6 million annually.
With 157 non-operational postings overseas, the
average weekly loss amounts to $685 a week.
Minister Jonathan Coleman
Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman said the decision
was made at the end of November just after the election and before a new
Government is formed. Dr Coleman said he had since asked the Chief of Defense
Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, for an assurance that he had got it
The Government has required the Defense Force to cut
its annual costs permanently by $350 million to $400 million, by 2015. The cuts in allowances will apply to overseas
personnel on postings to embassies, instructors, trainees and advisers. They won't affect those on operations in places such
as Afghanistan or the Solomon’s. And it won't affect salaries.
“You cannot buy
three-quarters of a ship or building,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote to
Senate Armed Services Committee leaders John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey
Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter last November, explaining the crippling effects of
such a measure. Management leaders generally advocate reducing or abandoning
specific activities, rather than invoking across-the-board cuts, which can harm
If the hatchet
strikes indiscriminately, and at a time that does not regard Defense budget
planning, Panetta said the immediate result would be employee furloughs and
contract and procurement curtailment; and the end of the decade would see the
smallest U.S. Air Force in history in terms of personnel, smallest ground force
since 1940, and smallest number of Navy ships since 1915.
Obama set the trend with his first budget proposal in 2009, proposing that over
$8 billion in cuts, or half of overall budget reductions, come from a Defense
Department that was waging two wars and would soon embark on a massive troop
surge in Afghanistan.
reductions are restricted primarily to major acquisitions, as may happen if DoD
is given a vasectomy, the outcome is still damaging, said American Enterprise
Institute scholar Mackenzie Eaglen, who has written extensively about military
readiness and Defense budget issues.
Republican staffers with the House Armed Services Committee projected last
September: the Army and the Marine Corps risk dropping 200,000 troops from 2011
levels; the Navy 50 ships or more; and the Air Force nearly 480 fighters, with
additional blows to unit technological capability, humanitarian and noncombat
missions, and provision for military families and dependents.
With enormous stresses on military
families, high suicide rates and growing unemployment among Guard veterans,
this is not the time to renege on commitments made to our nation’s deployed
warriors. MOAA is deeply disappointed that DoD even considered ratcheting back
a policy designed to sustain morale and quality of life, much less proceed with
these ill-considered cuts in respite leave for which already-deployed members
Here’s a quick summary of recently
introduced bills of interest to the military and veterans community:
S. 2179(Sen. Jim Webb, D-VA): Would require
schools with GI Bill-funded students to meet the same educational standards
currently required for other federal funding. Some institutions are targeting
GI Bill-eligibles for high-cost/low-value curricula, and this reform will help
both students and the government get appropriate education “bang for the
H.R. 3895(Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL): Would exempt
VA health care funding from automatic funding cuts should Congress fail to
reach agreement on national debt reduction.
H.R. 3904 (Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-MT): Would provide retroactive
early retirement eligibility to the group of Air Force majors with more than 15
years of service who were involuntarily separated last year.
H.R. 4168(Rep. Frank Guinta, R-NH): Would
place the Clark AFB Military Cemetery under the control of the American Battle
Monuments Commission to ensure proper care for this facility in the Philippines
where many US veterans are buried.
H.R. 2182 and S. 1734 (Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA and Sen. Richard
Blumenthal, D-CT): Companion House and Senate bills would provide incentives to
increase the commercial value of innovative antibiotic drugs and streamline the
regulatory process so that pioneering infectious disease products can reach
patients more quickly. This would help vulnerable troops returning from
Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have been exposed to highly resistant and
contagious strains of bacteria.
H.R. 4164 and S. 2112 (Rep. Don Young, R-AK and Sen. Mark Begich,
D-AK): Companion House and Senate bills would codify in law space-available
travel on military aircraft for all active duty, National Guard, reserve,
military retirees – including “gray area” Reserve retirees, and certain survivors.
Most Space-A rules presently are governed by DoD regulation.