Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said reductions in intelligence capability, training, and aviation training will all affect Special Operations Forces.
“If ever the force is so degraded and so unready, and then we’re asked to use it, it would be immoral to use the force unless it’s well-trained, well-led and well-equipped,” Dempsey said.
“Are we on the path to creating that dilemma?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked.
“We are on that path,” Dempsey confirmed.
“So please understand that, colleagues: We’re on the path of requiring our military in the future to protect us in a circumstance where they know they don’t have the ability given what we’re doing to the training, the readiness of the force,” Graham said.
All of the military leaders at the witness table agreed.
“The joint chiefs are responsible for balancing global responsibilities, for looking at ways to do things sometimes directly ourselves, sometimes through partners in a region,” Dempsey said. “And I think what you’re hearing today is that our ability to do that is going to be called into doubt, given the effects of sequestration.”
On Tuesday, President Obama travels to Newport News, Va., to visit a shipbuilding facility and make another speech against sequestration — highlighting “the devastating impact that the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1,” according to the White House.
It comes as Republican frustration has steadily mounted over Obama’s focus on the domestic impact of cuts with scant attention to the hacksaw that could be taken to military readiness and national security.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Thursday on Fox he finds it incredible that, after a year and a half of warnings sounded by his committee, “the White House, last week, woke up and says, oh gee, we’re going to have sequestration.”
“So, this just boggles my mind hearing him talk like this like, all of a sudden now, we’ve got a problem. And, I don’t know where they’ve been. The secretary of defense understood. We held five hearings over a year ago about the impact of sequestration on the military,” the chairman said. “The secretary said it would be like shooting ourselves in the head. All of the other, the chairman of the joint chiefs, everybody that testified before the committee told how devastating it would be.”
McKeon said Army Secretary John McHugh told him “if the sequestration goes in full bore and the CR continues through the rest of the year,” the department would have “to take it all out of operations and maintenance.”
“That’s the thing that has the most concerned. Our troops are not going to be getting the training they need to carry out their missions and return home safely,” McKeon said. “I know that they’re not getting the training now that they did a year ago. And I know within a few months, it’s going to be cut back even more drastically. People don’t understand that we’ve already cut a half trillion dollars out of defense. What we’re talking about is an additional half trillion.”
Wittman, whose 1st District includes part of Newport News, said he hopes Obama have a light-bulb moment of what’s at stake with his visit to the naval region.
“I welcome him to go there so he understands what this will mean to our nation’s strategic needs,” he said. “I hope that that engagement is there and that he understands it.”
“But it also requires leadership,” Wittman said. “His thoughts and ideas — specifics — not just these general terms.”