act soon to stop sequestration or the Pentagon will be faced with another
installment of $52 billion in cuts for FY 2014 as a result of the Budget
Control Act of 2011.
chances of Congress jumping on this any time soon are slim to none. Congress
returned from August recess with a hefty workload — combat operations in Syria,
no FY 2014 budget, no continuing resolution, and the debt ceiling about to bust.
sequestration went into effect March 1, 2013, the department had to juggle
military readiness, combat operations, and sustaining the all-volunteer force —
all mid-way through the year of executing the FY 2013 budget.
With five years
of my own in the puzzle palace and closely working with the budgeteers, there
weren’t many happy campers in and around the comptroller’s office.
with sequestration, these campers’ and budget planners’ moods have gotten much,
The Pentagon planners
have jumped through hoops over the past several years to keep the budget books
balanced. Now they face FY 2014 without a budget and are planning three
separated FY 2015 budgets.
Over the summer,
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had the Pentagon planners develop “a menu of
[cut] options” for three different budget scenarios in the recent Strategic
Choices and Management Review:
- 1. Palatable (but definitely leaves
a bad taste): the president’s FY 2014 budget submission of $150 billion over 10
- 2.Breaking (as in breaking
readiness): sequestration-level cuts of $500 billion over 10 years
- 3.Bending: an
“in-between” scenario with cuts of $250 billion over 10 years
Beyond hardware options
(cutting up to five Air Force tactical squadrons, reducing C-130s, retiring bombers,
and potentially reducing the number of carrier strike groups from 11 to eight),
Hagel stated the Pentagon “has no choice but to consider compensation changes of greater magnitude for
military and civilian personnel.” Measures compensation options planners are
contemplating include (but are not limited to):
- downsizing end strength
by up to 202,000 active and reserve component troops;
- pushing military retirees
to use private-sector health care insurance;
- cutting basic allowance
- reducing overseas COLAs;
- capping military and
civilian pay raises;
- eliminating civilian
pensions for retired military personnel serving in the federal service; and
- ending commissary subsidies.
debt reduction is a national priority, the Pentagon has been levied with a
disproportional share of this burden. Servicemembers and their families already
have sacrificed more for their country than any other segment of Americans.
House Armed Services
Chair Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) stated, “We cannot keep asking the
military to perform mission after mission with sequestration and military cuts
hanging over their heads.”
The bottom line: We couldn’t agree more. It is time for Congress to put partisan politics aside and develop an
alternative debt-reduction package that more fairly balances required
sacrifices and avoids disproportional penalties for servicemembers and retirees
and their families. Ask Congress to stop sequestration now!