Secretary of Defense Describes Pain of Continued Sequestration

As our Nation headed toward the fiscal cliff several months ago, our Association warned Members of Congress that sequestration would hurt service members, their families, and their communities. The budget cuts mandated by sequestration have led to furloughs for civilian Department of Defense (DoD) employees, regular commissary closures, fewer available medical appointments, and expected loss of instructional days for Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) schools, as well as other cuts to training and family support. However, many families do not realize that this year’s cuts may only be the tip of the iceberg. The 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) requires sequester-level budget cuts for the next decade. If the provisions of the BCA remain in effect, DoD’s budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) would be cut by $52 billion below the amount requested by the Administration

In May, the Senate Armed Services committee wrote to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to request information on the impact that cuts of this level would have on DoD. Secretary Hagel responded on July 10 with an eight-page letter stating, in effect, that the results would be disastrous. According to the Secretary, if sequestration cuts continue into FY14, the Department will be forced to make deep cuts in military personnel spending as well as operations and maintenance. 

These cuts will lead to:

  • Halting new accessions, promotions, and permanent change of station (PCS) moves
  • Rapid downsizing of the force (if permitted by Congress)
  • Additional furloughs and/or reduction-in-force of civilian employees
  • Cuts in facilities maintenance, base operating funding, and community events
  • Continued cutbacks  in military training and readiness

We are extremely alarmed by the damage budget cuts of this level will have on service members and their families. This year’s cuts are hurting military communities. We want our Nation’s leaders to understand that sequestration is NOT a painless way to reduce the deficit. But, we do not agree with Secretary Hagel’s conclusion that a 1% pay raise for service members should be part of the solution to avoid further sequestration. Our Nation’s budget crisis should not be solved by demanding additional sacrifice from families already doing so much to serve. Instead, we call on Congress and the Administration to work together to develop a balanced deficit reduction package that addresses our fiscal needs without sacrificing military readiness or the well-being of military families.

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