Bolster the troops and national security by ending the sequester

Sequestration is threatening our national security both abroad and at home. Across the country, Americans continue to hear about the ongoing threats to our national security. While we place our trust in our men and women in uniform to combat these threats, we must commit to providing them with the resources necessary to carry out their mission.

Committees in both chambers of Congress have held countless hearings on President Obama’s sequester and its effect on our military readiness. In doing so, we have developed not only a deep understanding of these challenges, but also redoubled our respect and appreciation for our men and women in uniform who sacrifice everything to defend our freedoms.

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In these hearings, we have heard directly from each of our Joint Chiefs that our military will come to a grinding halt if sequestration continues in 2016. On March 17, I spoke with Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of the Army, about the ramifications of sequestration on our military personnel. When I asked Odierno what would happen if full sequestration went into effect and how that would influence training forces, he said:

“The rest of the force will go untrained, and that means that if they are needed, they will not be able to do the job we expect them to do. And our sons and daughters will be asked to do things without the proper training or readiness of their equipment.”

The possibility that those men and women would fail to receive the proper training or equipment is absolutely unacceptable. The countless hearings and briefings on Obama’s sequester all lead us to the same conclusion: We cannot continue on this path in the face of an evolving and challenging global security climate. This is not the time to gamble with the safety and security of our nation, or abandon calls for a comprehensive global strategy to combat the threat of terror and the growth of “home-grown” fighters.

Whether it is the heinous acts of terrorism committed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or instability in the Middle East, which threatens our strategic allies, our military continues to address incredibly complex and evolving threats. Sequestration, however, erodes our military’s ability to meet these threats head-on. At this time in our nation’s history, we cannot afford to jeopardize the safety and security of our nation and our interests around the world.

On May 15, the House passed the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes programs critical to our national defense. Specifically, the bill authorizes $515 billion for base budget activities and $89 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, not including another $7.7 billion. By providing this authorization, the House acted to curb the devastating effects of sequestration that compromise mission readiness for our deployed personnel around the world.

The House-passed NDAA will fully fund our national defense this year, but our work is far from over. This is not a long-term solution, and the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to suffer from three years of sequester cuts. Rather than shutting the door on a strong national defense, we should be working towards a balanced budget and exercising fiscal restraint that does not jeopardize the security of the American people.

It is important to remember that sequestration negatively affects our military on the global stage and in our communities. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is in my congressional district in Dayton, Ohio. It is an integral part of our community. The crippling affects of Obama’s sequester are seen throughout our community. As furloughs and budget cuts have affected DOD’s personnel and missions, you can feel the effects of sequester upon the moral of our men and women who serve.

The United States has traditionally been a model of a strong national defense and a leader in global security. The current administration’s policies have eroded that strength and backed away from our longstanding commitment to the protection of our national defense and of the security of the American people. We must act to reverse the president’s damaging sequester and ensure our security at home and abroad for generations to come.

Turner has represented Ohio’s 10th Congressional District since 2003. He sits on the Armed Services, the Intelligence and the Oversight and Government Reform committees.