During a forum today with senior retired military leaders, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) urged members of both parties to act now to prevent pending defense sequestration cuts that Secretary Panetta has said would undermine America's national security for generations. Today's forum, "Defense Sequestration and U.S. National Security: The Warfighters' Perspective," was hosted by TechAmerica. Also participating in the panel were Lieutenant General (retired) David Barno, former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan; Sergeant Major (retired) Carlton Kent, the 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps; and Master Chief Petty Officer (retired) Joseph Campa, the 11th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
"Secretary Panetta has warned that sequestration would result in the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history," said Senator Lieberman, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Defense budget cuts and sequestration are not just problems for the Defense Department and industry, but undercut our ability to provide the indispensable American leadership to preserve the international system that has contributed to global prosperity since the end of the Second World War."
"If Congress allows sequestration to go forward, we will damage our armed forces and make our country less safe in a way that no enemy could. We will break faith with the brave troops who have repeatedly deployed to dangerous war zones to keep us safe," said Senator Ayotte, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. "We cannot wait until after the election -- Congress needs to act now to find alternate spending reductions and avert sequestration."
"Today's forum brought to the forefront the human faces of sequestration -- our men and women in uniform whose sacrifice, courage and honor are on display daily as they serve across the globe. Leaders in Washington need to keep them in mind and forge a solution to this massive budget impasse. The alternative is a hollowed out and demoralized military," said Greg Keeley, vice president of defense, intelligence & homeland security policy at TechAmerica.
Earlier this year, the Chief of Naval Operations testified that defense sequestration will cause the Navy to slash approximately 50 ships and submarines from the naval inventory, resulting in a 235-ship Navy that is 78 fewer ships than the Navy has said our national security requires. In addition, defense sequestration could result in the cancellation or restructuring of top priority modernization programs like the Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46A supertanker.