This week both SASC and HASC full committees held congressional hearings on the im-pacts of sequestration on the DoD. Witnesses included DepSecDef , USD (Comptroller), CJCS & Service Chiefs. The intent of the hearings was to afford the Department and op-portunity to explain in greater detail the devastating impacts that a yearlong Continuing Resolution, coupled with Sequestration on a every aspect of National Defense as well as the economy in general. All Members were eager for detailed information on the exact impacts on readiness, support programs such as mental health initiatives, equipping and modernization and especially on the industrial base. There were specific concerns about the impacts on contracts; the cost of rebounding from measures already taken if sequestration is delayed or repealed and a budget is passed; and, the cost of the fur-lough versus any cost savings, especially if the WARN Act is found to apply.
- The overall tone of the hearings reflected the frustration of Members and Witnesses alike and while the utmost decorum was maintained, the inflection and deliberate nature of the wit-ness responses spoke volumes. While specifics were provided to questions about the magnitude of the impact, the real theme of the hearing from DoD’s perspective seems to center on the sustainment of readiness, the ability to train & equip the force and execution of the DoD strategic guidance developed last year. To that end, specific items mentioned by the CSA during his testimony included the following:
- The fiscal outlook which the U.S. army faces in this fiscal year is dire and to my knowledge unprecedented. In addition to the $170B in cuts to the Army levied by the BCA of 2011, the combination of the CR, a shortfall in OCO from Afghanistan and the sequester in FY13 has resulted in some-where between $17B-$18B shortfall to the Army’s O&M accounts, as well as an additional $6B cut to other programs.
- Therefore, it has grave consequences and immediate readiness impacts on our forces, especially those not serving in Afghanistan or forward in Korea, because we will ensure that they have all the money that they need.
- We will curtail the funding for the next forces in. We’ll curtain training for 80% of our ground forces. This will impact our units’ basic warfighting skills, induce shortfalls across critical specialties, including aviation, intelli-gence, engineering, and even our ability to recruit new Soldiers into the Army.
We have an immediate Army-wide hiring freeze, and we will terminate an estimated 3,100 temporary and term employees. We will furlough up to 251,000 civilians for up to 22 days.
- We will cut 37,000 flying hours from our aviation training, which will create a shortfall of over 500 pilots by the end of fiscal year ’13.
- We will create a backlog at flight school that will take over two years to reduce.
- We’ll reduce our base sustainment funds by 70 percent. This means even minimum maintenance cannot be sus-tained, which will place the Army on a slippery slope when our buildings will fail faster than we can fix them. There will be over 500,000 work orders that we’ll not be able to execute.
- Sequestration will result in delays to every one of our 10 major modernization programs. It’ll create an inability to reset our equipment after 12 years of war, and unacceptable reductions in unit and individual training.
- In my opinion, sequestration is not in the best interests of our national security. It will place and unreasonable burden on the shoulders of our soldiers and civilians. We will not be able to execute the Department of Defense strategic guidance as we developed last year.
- The significance of these budget reductions will directly impact our ability to sustain readiness today and into the future. We simply cannot take the readiness of our force for granted.