By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2015 – Sequestration is “absolutely crazy,” will hurt national security and make it “impossible” for the United States to meet its global commitments, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The world has changed dramatically since sequestration was passed into law in the Budget Control Act of 2011, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said.
Dempsey spoke Thursday, in an interview aboard his plane as he returned to Washington following a European trip focusing on threats to the continent.
“The combination of the Budget Control Act and the sequestration mechanism will make it impossible for us to meet our global responsibilities,” he said.
The sequestration mechanism forces across-the-board government spending cuts, a “mechanical withdrawal” that “doesn’t allow you to balance your books,” Dempsey said.
“The readiness hole is still the readiness hole. The global security environment is more dangerous and sequestration is still on the books as the law. It’s absolutely crazy for this country,” the top general said.
A More Dangerous World
The changes in the global environment since 2011 include the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Russia’s fueling of instability in Ukraine, and a “host of security issues,” he said.
“ISIL hadn’t manifested itself as a trans-regional threat,” the chairman said. “Russia had not annexed Crimea and violated the sovereignty of Ukraine, and in so doing, by the way, stirred up nationalism and ethnicity in Europe in a very unhelpful way.”
In addition, the United States is now engaged in trying to reduce sources of instability in Africa, including the mission supporting the fight against Ebola.
In those years since the law was passed, the world has also seen provocations by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Dempsey said.
“All those things require consideration of forward presence, readiness, resourcing, countering technological advances by some of our potential adversaries, and that’s changed a great deal,” the chairman said. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to understand that change.”
Sequestration Hurts National Defense
Military leaders in 2010 were predicting that even if the United States withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, the military would need three or four years to recover its readiness.
“Because for 10 years we’ve been focused very narrowly on the counter-insurgency, counter-terror threat and we’ve lost some of our training edge,” Dempsey said.
The United States deferred maintenance on some of its high-end capabilities because of sequestration, he said, including ships, submarines and airplanes.
In a separate interview with DoD News while in Europe last week, the chairman said he would like to have a “conversation with Congress” about reversing the effects of sequestration.
“If they’re not reversed, they’re going to be imposed in 2016, and they will negatively affect our national security interests,” he said.
The chairman added, “Collaboratively we shouldn’t allow that to happen.”