Military officials warn against cutting DOD's budget

Plans to slash more than $800 billion from Defense Department spending over the next decade could hurt military readiness, including technological readiness, the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps testified July 26 before a House committee.

Lawmakers must maintain readiness as a top priority even as necessary funding reductions are made, the vice chiefs of staff said before the House Armed Services Committee. President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had proposed a plan that included $868 billion in defense cuts over 10 years.

“Our future readiness depends first on maintaining the right balance between our current readiness requirements and the procurement of future platforms and capabilities,” said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, vice chief of naval operations, according to a report from

Technological advances would also be at risk if the cuts go through, said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli .  "We must avoid making cuts to key and critical modernization programs," he said. "Doing so may have far-reaching implications on the readiness of the Force given the pace of technology development. "

Greenert and the other vice chiefs testified that their services already are experiencing shortfalls in meeting needs in the field, particularly after 10 years of conflict that have worn down equipment and manpower.

“I will tell you that some of our low-density, high-demand requirements, personnel recovery, [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance]…are right at the ragged edge. And as we continue to be challenged by new tasks around North Africa and other places, we are right at the limit of supporting U.S. Central Command,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove, Air Force vice chief of staff. “The United States continues to confront a dynamic international environment requiring the military to remain strong and agile enough to face a diverse range of threats.”

Chiarelli acknowledged the need to make sacrifices as the country faces unprecedented debt, but said such drastic measures would require a major re-evaluation of military strategy.

“We recognize we cannot expect to operate the way we have over the past decade. We cannot expect the same level of funding and flexibility to continue indefinitely,” Chiarelli said. But with spending cuts upwards of $1 trillion, “you’re reaching an area there that I think would definitely we’d have to look very, very hard at our strategy, what we can and cannot do.”

In a separate Capitol Hill hearing July 26, Gen. Martin Dempsey, currently Army chief of staff and nominee to replace Adm. Mike Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also expressed concern about an $800 billion spending cut for DOD.

“Based on the difficulty of achieving the $400 billion cut [DOD is already working toward], I believe [$800 billion] would be extraordinarily difficult and high-risk,” Dempsey said at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing. He noted that it’s critical that for DOD to absorb such far-reaching cuts, the reductions must touch all areas of spending, including force structure, equipment procurement, personnel and operations and training.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 Dr. Cal

I served on active duty (Navy Aircrew) from 1960 to late 1980 and can tell you that there was a lot of "fat" and waste during those two decades. Most commands had about 10% of their personnel that were simply consuming more than they were producing. I still work within DoD as a contractor and have been amazed at the increase in efficiency and effectiveness that has evolved in the past two decades. Gold brickers and behavioral problems (including boozers that used to be hidden) seem to be a thing of the past. The USA is just about the only force on Earth right now that can keep China in check as she moves towards having a military presense Globally. China is already devouring the world's economic centers and has most countries deeply in debt to them. All of the military forces (except the USA) are either isolationists or simply not strong enough to proved a motivation for China to stay in their own yard. I do agree that the last two "wars" were not well advised and both Bush and Obama have been very ineffective in managing these hot spots. Physically occupying the countries simply hasn't worked. The post 9-11 terrorism truly terrorized our govenment and continues to terrorize us within the govenment and certainly in our public transportation systems. We let them win that battle easily and played right into their hands. THIS IS TRULY MY PERSONAL OPINION AND OFFERED AS FOOD FOR THOUGHT. I appreciate living in a country where we can show opposing views.

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 Robert Rathbun MD

These problems are much more complex then just "PULLING OUT" of key global locations. First off, the military commands didn't dictate or make the decisions to maintain or sustain those bases our government did. If your suddenly so worried about the money being spent overseas talk to your Senator and Congressman and vote next time. The military takes orders all the way up the stack. Our government leadership screwed up the budget, so point the finger where it belongs. Our services budgets are only targets because you can see them. Try asking about the "BLACK BUDGETS" you cannot see. TRILLIONS are spent on black operations but you will never get to decide which of those programs is wasteful because you don't have a "NEED TO KNOW". Nice way of saying we can spend money and you cannot say or do anything about it. While your crying about money don't forget the people whose jobs are in play here. HACK and SLASH has a price!

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 Truett Airhart Hunt, Texas

The DoD has performed better than any other federal agency, as in addition to protection against foreign aggression, they have contributed substantially to improvements in the private sector. They helped in the initial efforts in integration, developed the internet, GPS and in effect, changed the ways the world works. As an ex-contractor I can attest that they demand good performance and when received, are willing to reward. There should be other agencies with less impressive records for cost reductions. My support goes beyond the scope of this message, but God bless the Armed Services and Coast Guard, as they have consistently performed better than our political leaders.

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 Jonathan Delafield

Uh ... to unsigned above. I support reducing our military significantly, like maybe by half. AND I served two tours of duty in Vietnam, so you better reassess your stereotypes.

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 Guillermo Midwest

Why do we still have soldiers and sailors staioned in places like Germany and Italy? Why are our troops guarding the borders of foreign countries and yet we can't even protect our own? The billions we are spending on this plus foreign aid needs to stop; we are broke and America cannot continue to be the world's Salvation Army and police!

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