House Republicans request classified brief on sequester risks

Forbes and other members of the House Armed Services Committee have "one frightening hearing after another" with top service brass on sequestration's impact to U.S. defense priorities, according to Forbes. 

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Panel members have also been given classified details on the specific threats facing the Defense Department, as a result of the massive, across-the-board cuts due to sequestration. 

That said, House lawmakers outside the defense panel, "have voted to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from defense without fully understanding the impacts," Forbes said in a statement to The Hill Wednesday. 

GOP committee members Joe Wilson (S.C.), Michael Turner (Ohio), Rob Wittman (Va.), Mike Rogers (Ala.) and Duncan Hunter (Calif.) were part of the 14 other House Republicans who co-signed Forbes' letter to leadership. 

"If the raw facts about the imminent and dangerous fissures in our nation’s ability to protect its citizens did not create pause in Members of Congress, I’m not sure what would," Forbes added Wednesday. 

As a result, Forbes is asking Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to lay out, in detail, sequestration's impact to House members in a classified setting. 

That briefing could include how the U.S. military would meet regional threats like China, Iran and North Korea, along with continuing counterterrorism missions in Africa and the Middle East under sequestration. 

"We believe it is critical that the current state of our military readiness be understood by the entirety of the House of Representatives," as the House GOP continues to square off against the White House over the ongoing shutdown and looming debt ceiling dead line. 

Under sequestration, the Pentagon is staring down $500 billion in mandatory spending cuts. The cuts began in March and would reduce Pentagon spending by $52 billion next year.

In a new strategy released in July, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the department is considering shrinking the Army from 490,00 to between 380,000 and 450,000 troops. 

The Marine Corps would be slashed from 182,000 to between 150,00 to 175,000, and the number of aircraft carrier strike groups would be reduced from 11 to eight or nine, under that plan. 

Another scenario outlined in that sequestration strategy would keep current troop numbers, but abandon vital weapons programs designed to replace several aging systems in the Pentagon’s arsenal, Hagel said at the time.