This Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will hold a hearing on sequestration’s impact on defense and national security in light of the Sequestration Transparency Act Report, which the White House released on September 14. The report unfortunately brings very little insight to the impacts of sequestration on U.S. forces other than the expected exemption of Military Personnel accounts and that all sequesterable accounts will be reduced by 9.4 percent.
The numbers that the Office of Management and Budget reported do not inform the general public of the cuts’ actual implications. They merely detail all the functions within each of the major accounts that compose federal spending. For instance, the Operation and Maintenance account of the U.S. Army will be reduced by nearly $7 billion, but we do not know what programs will be most severely affected.
The report’s level of detail is only overwhelming by nature of its nearly 400 pages. In reality, it is a list of the names of the functions that exist in each of the accounts, accompanied by their top line budget authority and the dollar amount of the 9.4 percent reduction. HASC Members will likely question how this reduction will be more specifically executed, but they will also likely receive an insufficient response.
The hearing will host Department of Defense Comptroller Robert Hale, accompanied by a deputy from each of the four service branches. They will hopefully provide more details of the impacts of the reductions in budget authority to the readiness of our Armed Forces. HASC and other authorities on defense have already reported extensively on the ways sequestration will inhibit America’s ability to execute national security strategy and uphold the country’s interests.
The HASC report assessed that sequestration would lead to the smallest ground force since 1940, a fleet of fewer than 230 ships—the smallest level since 1915—and the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force. HASC Members should raise these concerns in the hearing.
The possible impacts of sequestration have been documented time, time and time again. It is imperative that Congress and the Administration stop using the readiness of our troops and the defense of the country as an excuse to increase taxes in an overburdened society. As clearly stated by Steve Bucci and Alison Fraser of The Heritage Foundation:
Congress and the President should protect defense—this is not negotiable, despite the wishes of some on Capitol Hill, and it is not an ideological issue, as some have tried to portray it. Gambling with the readiness and security of America is not leadership; it is exactly the opposite.