Congress Is Told How Cuts Would Hurt Troops; Military Chiefs Predict Low Morale, Readiness
Byline: Kristina Wong, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Automatic defense spending cuts set to begin Friday will hurt troops' morale, readiness and their families and could damage the Pentagon's ability to recruit an all-volunteer force, military chiefs told Congress on Tuesday.
Soldiers will have degraded access to medical care because the cuts will result in furloughs of more than 250,000 Army civilians, including those who staff military medical facilities, said Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army chief of staff.
Soldiers' tuition assistance, military elementary school, day care programs and spouse employment services also would be affected by the cuts, he told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines - they'll do anything for us. They'll deploy on no notice, Gen. Odierno said. And the one thing they want us to do is take care of their families.
The Pentagon is preparing to chop $500 billion from its budget over the next decade under an automatic spending-cut plan called sequestration that begins Friday. The Pentagon plans to furlough about 750,000 civilian workers for 22 days, suspend training for troops stationed in the United States and delay equipment maintenance.
If Congress fails to pass a 2013 defense appropriations bill, the Pentagon will be forced to stick to 2012 funding levels under a continuing resolution that expires March 27. Sequestration would force the Pentagon to slash $46 billion from its budget by Sept. 30.
Sequestration does not hurt things. It hurts our people, said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.
The Marine Corps has not laid out how many civilians would be furloughed if the defense cuts take effect, but 95 percent of those civilians are employed outside the Washington region, Gen. Amos said. They include mechanics who repair military vehicles, therapists who care for wounded Marines and teachers at military schools.
The economic impact to these families and their local communities are put at risk by short-term furlough and long-term termination, he said. …