Services echo Panetta on threat of sequestration cuts

“To use an axe to cut a half-trillion dollars from defense spending would be perilous enough, but to do so without providing the department with any means of managing those reductions would be beyond risky,” Army Secretary John McHugh said at a Friday budget hearing. “To say this would be unacceptable is, at least in my opinion, an understatement.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said Thursday that sequestration, particularly if personnel was excluded from the cuts, would be “a recipe for a hollow force.”

“It is a near impossible situation for us,” Amos said. “I will tell you that the impact of sequestration, we'll have a reduced forward presence, it will be a refined strategy as we know it today.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the across-the-board cut is particularly devastating, because he “can't do it with a 0.87 ship, a 0.87 salary.”

The comments are similar to what Panetta has said repeatedly in recent months, and the Defense secretary reiterated a plea for killing the automatic cuts on Thursday when he told Congress that sequestration “undermines everything that you represent.”

Both House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told the service chiefs they want to change the sequestration cuts.

McKeon has introduced a bill to undo a bill to undo the first year of cuts by trimming the federal workforce 10 percent over the next decade.

Smith suggested a plan Thursday to let each party come up with half of the needed deficit reduction to duck the blanket cuts.

“A constituent suggested something to me several months ago just off the top that is sounding better and better,” Smith said. “It's $1.2 trillion [in deficit reduction]. If the Democrats and Republicans can't agree on it, Republicans, you get to find $600 billion; Democrats, you get to find $600 billion, agree on it, and let's go.”