The House Armed Services Committee met to receive testimony on "The Future of the Military Services and the Consequences of Defense Sequestration". Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon made the following statement as prepared for delivery:
"The House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony on The Future of the Military Services and the Consequences of Defense Sequestration. To assist us with our examination of the impacts of further defense cuts to each of the military services, we are joined by the four service chiefs. Gentlemen, thank you for your service and I truly appreciate your willingness to appear before the Committee today. I cannot recall the last time we had all four service chiefs in the same panel. This is a unique opportunity for our members and greatly assists us with our oversight responsibilities.
"The Committee has held a series of hearings to evaluate lessons learned since 9/11 and to apply those lessons to decisions we will soon be making about the future of our force. We have received perspectives of former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, former service chiefs and commanders of the National Guard Bureau, former chairmen of the Armed Services Committees, outside experts, Secretary Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey. Today we have the opportunity to follow up on the testimony of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to examine more closely the challenges faced by each of the services.
"As I continue to emphasize, our successes in the global war on terror, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, appear to be lulling our nation into the false-confidence of a September 10th mindset. Too many appear to believe that we can maintain a solid defense that is driven by budget choices, not strategic ones. But as we heard from witnesses again last week, defense spending did not cause the current fiscal crisis. Nevertheless, defense can and will be a part of the solution. The problem is that to date, defense has contributed more than half of the deficit reduction measures we've taken and there are some who want to use the military to pay for the rest, to protect the sacred cow that is entitlement spending.
"Not only should that be a non-starter from a national security and economic perspective, but it should also be a non-starter from a moral perspective. Consider that word, entitlements. Well entitlements imply that you are entitled to a certain benefit, and I can't think of anyone who has earned that right ahead of our troops. By volunteering to put their lives on the line for this country, they are entitled to the best training, equipment, and leadership our nation can provide.
"I hope our witnesses today can help us understand the ramifications of these possible cuts in relation to our force structure, as well as our ability to meet future needs of our national defense. How can we make sure the military is a good steward of the taxpayers dollar, without increasing the risk to our Armed Forces? Where can we take risk, but what changes would go too far?