The Department of Defense’s recently released budget is based on a hope that the international environment has structurally changed and that the United States will never again face the obligation of fighting two major wars simultaneously, according to the most recent publication by the Defending Defense Coalition of the American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, and The Heritage Foundation.
As a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), the military budget will be slashed by at least $487 billion the over the next 10 years. This is a dangerous course for the United States, its military, and allies around the world. In addition, the above figure fails to account for a further $500 billion reduction to the defense budget if Congress does not reverse sequestration.
In his November 2011 letter to Senator John McCain (R–AZ), Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta pronounced that impacts of sequestration cuts “would be devastating for the Department.” Panetta stated that cuts already happening “are difficult and will require us to take some risks, but they are manageable.” However, it is clear that the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense budget will not provide the U.S. military with the resources it needs.
Even more problematic is that all reductions to the defense budget are front-loaded and, therefore, will have significant and immediate implications for readiness, modernization programs, and research and development. Under budget caps, the FY 2013 defense budget will be 18 percent lower than the President’s FY 2011 request. After the sequestration process, the FY 2013 defense budget will be 25 percent less than the President’s request. Also, per capita expenditures for paying military personnel and operating the force are high and growing rapidly, which will increase pressure on procurement and on research, development, and testing accounts.
This will lessen the overall readiness of the force and will eventually result in hollow force. This is because a force that is too small cannot endure higher operating tempos and rotation cycles. Since President Obama took office, more than 50 major weapons programs, at a value of more than $300 billion, have been cut or delayed. In fact, this occurred before the BCA took effect.
The Constitution states that the primary role of the federal government is “to provide for the common defense.” Congress should reverse both the BCA and the sequestration process.