Sequestration's impact on national defense

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While spending more on defense doesn’t necessarily make us safer, tighter purse strings means we need to target spending in more strategic ways; however, sequestration does not allow for strategic cuts. Sequestration, as many have testified, would cripple DoD’s operations and maintenance accounts and weaken our country’s military readiness. Moreover, the second- and third-order effects on our sustainment industrial base will further impact the readiness of our military. In the long run, sequestration will cost our government more than what we find in immediate savings. Ultimately, the readiness of our military is critical to protecting our nation’s sea, air, land, and cyberspace security, including our ability to support our allies across the globe. And while it is possible to have a leaner, more flexible military, it is critical to prioritize funds that ensure our forces are postured effectively and well-resourced to carry out their missions.

Defense spending has been greatly reduced in recent years. This reduction in DoD’s overall budget reflects our struggling economy and the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As such, our national defense strategy has shifted with a renewed engagement in the Asia-Pacific theater. The realignments of U.S. Marines on Guam and throughout the Pacific is just one example of how our military is shifting to respond to emerging threats in an increasingly vital region. As such, it is incumbent on policymakers in Washington to look further down the line and do more than just a patch-and-repair job. It is important to protect funding for current operations and it is necessary to make critical investments to ensure our country’s long-term security. Asia-Pacific requirements, in particular, must be prioritized, and it will require difficult decisions in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

These deep, indiscriminate cuts would affect more than immediate threats to our national security and defense. As the largest federal agency in United States and the world’s largest single employer, the Department of Defense plays a major role in sustaining our nation’s workforce and promoting economic growth. Moreover, further cuts to defense would affect businesses that depend on federal contracts and slow progress on military construction projects currently underway, potentially derailing others indefinitely. The impacts of sequestration may not be felt immediately, but it behooves leadership in Congress to prevent the sequester from crippling our country’s ability to address threats to our national security and defense. Congress did not create the last economic recession and it would be irresponsible to allow sequestration to move forward. These drastic, unnecessary cuts would inevitably lead to a recession, just like nations in Europe who have adopted draconian austerity measures.

Bordallo is the Guam delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.