Military sequesters hurt America and should stop

Today America is a nation at war. President Obama and our Joint Chiefs of Staff are trying to successfully end the war. Our troops remain in combat. The world remains dangerous. And our politicians are using the threat of military sequesters in ways that are damaging and destructive to commanders, noncommissioned officers, active-duty troops of all ranks, essential civilian defense employees, military readiness, rational military procurement, military families and confidence from American allies working with us in joint missions. The use and abuse of the threat of military-related sequesters hurts our security and must end.

The sequester problem is especially severe at a time when the Army and Marine Corps are in the process of careful personnel reductions in the midst of continuing combat.

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I understand the motives of those who favor the threat of sequesters in the hope of achieving deficit reduction. The problem is that the deficit reduction has not materialized but the damage to our security has. The latest "agreement" for another 60 days is one bridge too far and one disaster too many for anyone seriously concerned with our troops, our military families and our security.

Troops in combat should be facing forward, to accomplish the mission, not looking backward, worrying for even one moment what Washington will do to them.

Commanders making battlefield decisions should not be diverted or interfered with by political shenanigans in Washington when they already face the challenges of continuing combat at a time of force reductions.

Allies joining American forces in joint missions that are not politically popular should not have their confidence weakened by the danger that banana-republic budget practices in Washington will translate into banana-republic security policy of sequesters.

Adversaries who might be negotiating with the U.S. or NATO should not receive the message of confusion and incompetence caused by sequester politics in the capital.

Military families patriotically standing with their loved ones, and justifiably concerned about programs to treat and help troops who have served in combat longer than any Americans in the history of the republic, should not be worried by the threat of sequester or burdened by the imposition of sequester.

Yes, the military should be part of the budget solution. But the sequester politics in Washington is wrong and should stop.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned about this repeatedly. He is absolutely right. Let’s deal with the budget problem but stop the sequester politics that have already done far too much damage to those defending our nation.