House Chairman: 'The Condition of Our Armed Forces is Swiftly Declining'
The House Armed Services Committee chairman said that the sequestration warning from all seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be a wake-up call to Congress.
The "28 Star Letter" -- named so because all of the generals on the letter are four-star -- was sent to lawmakers to express their concern about the impact the continuing resolution and sequestration will have on military readiness.
Sequestration was one of the can-kicked elements of the rush fiscal cliff deal at New Year's, postponing the devastating defense cuts for two months to allow for a negotiated deal.
"The condition of our Armed Forces is swiftly declining. And this is the first red flag on what could be a hazardous road for our national security," Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said.
"I only wish the service chiefs' warning had come sooner. For well over a year we have seen this perfect storm brewing. This committee rigorously documented the harmful impact of a reduced defense budget as early as September 2011," he continued. "Time after time, this Committee was told by Pentagon officials that there was no need to plan for sequestration's dire consequences. Time after time, we gave those officials the opportunity to testify about the risks inherent in that strategy. Now, as we approach the midnight hour, DoD is just beginning to offer specifics."
McKeon said he hoped the generals sounded the same warning to President Obama as they did to Congress.
"Congress alone does not carry sole responsibility for this crisis, nor can we resolve it on our own," the chairman said. "While senior commanders' cries for help are heeded and taken seriously on the Hill, the Commander-in-Chief continues to fail in his primary duty. He has yet to propose a solution to the crisis, and he refuses to step off the podium and sit down at the negotiating table."
"Sequestration was conceived and created in the White House with the ultimate agreement of Congress. The solution will also take agreement from Congress and the Commander-in-Chief."