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RELEASE: Sequestration Is ‘Not a Game’

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Contact: Christina DiPasquale
Phone: 202.481.8181
Email: cdipasquale@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — In anticipation of the impending sequestration deadline, the Center for American Progress released “Sequestration Is ‘Not a Game,’” showing that automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration—as well as the expiration of current continuing appropriations authority for fiscal year 2013—have a direct impact on America’s security at a time of uncertainty in the Middle East and hurts military readiness.

While the Pentagon was quick to point out that U.S. forces would continue to maintain a robust military presence throughout the Middle East, the budget impasse challenges the normal and routine process of rotating and replacing U.S. forces on a regular basis and disrupts military training. Meanwhile, as Washington continues on a track of incessant political turbulence—with six-month temporary appropriations resolutions—the sense in foreign capitals is one of confusion. Other countries have mounting questions about America’s ability to perform its business when its elected leaders can’t even agree on a budget.

While budget cuts at the Pentagon are expected as U.S. troops continue to return to their home bases after a decade of military conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff took the necessary budget reductions as part of an integrated strategic and budget review. That review leveraged military and technological capabilities that include unprecedented interservice collaboration, cooperation, integration, and resource investments. The guidance provided by that review is designed to ensure continued U.S. advantage against emerging modern military and technological challenges, but the planning that went into the strategic budget review is at risk because of the sequester.

As the United States rebalances its defense priorities and the Pentagon’s spending practices, more hard and thoughtful work will be required. Military requirements for new equipment have become so cumbersome that upgrades to the field have slowed to a trickle even while costs have escalated to a level that is neither practical nor affordable. The all-volunteer force—the bedrock of the U.S. armed forces—has seen a decade of cost growth that has weakened its long-term viability. And operations and maintenance spending—so critical to high levels of unit training and readiness, quality of life, and troop morale—are escalating at annual rates beyond any measure of inflation.

Finding answers to these questions will be vital to long-term U.S. security interests and will require smart moves to rebalance the defense budget after more than a dozen years of unconstrained spending. These issues, however, will not be resolved through budget sequestration.Even with the looming sequester, the United States remains the most formidable military power in the world, and deployed troops will continue to receive the critical resources that they need. But unless our leaders in Washington resolve our short- and long-term budget issues, our Navy cannot sail, and the training levels of our troops will continue to be reduced.

To speak with CAP experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

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