USA: Sequestration Cuts Will Have Debilitating Effects on Navy’s Day-to-Day Mission, VCNO Says
Defense leaders appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 12 to discuss the impacts the respective services are facing as a result of a potential sequestration and operating under a continuing resolution throughout fiscal year 2013.
Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mark Ferguson, testified on behalf of the Navy and pointed out how the combined effects of a yearlong CR and sequestration will reduce the Navy’s ability to carry out its day-to-day mission around the globe.
“Simply stated, the combined effect of a yearlong continuing resolution and sequestration will reduce our Navy’s overseas presence and adversely impact the material readiness and proficiency of our force-thus limiting the President’s options in time of crisis.”
Because the Navy is currently operating under a continuing resolution for this fiscal year, leaders do not have the authority to initiate new programs or adjust funding for ongoing programs.
“We will be compelled to delay the start of construction of John F. Kennedy, CVN 79, the completion of America, LHA 6, as well as cancel procurement of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and hundreds of weapons. Without congressional authority the carrier Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) must remain moored at Naval Station Norfolk rather than start her overall, and we will not be able to complete the current overhaul of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71),” said Ferguson.
Ferguson went on to explain how these “debilitating effects will be compounded by the devastation of sequestration should it execute in its present form on March 1.”
Other service leaders testifying included Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) Robert F. Hale, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III, and Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank J. Grass.
Carter explained that while military personnel are exempt from Sequestration cuts, there is a significant impact on the civilian force. DoD civilians are mostly people at depots and shipyards fixing the Navy’s equipment, and 44 percent are veterans, according to Carter. Many of them could be furloughed as much as 22 days or a fifth of their paychecks would be gone.
“The immediate impact will be to our fleet operations and depot maintenance,” Ferguson said. “We anticipate reducing flight operations and underway days for our deployed forces, cancelling deployments…suspending most non-deployed operations such as training and certifications, along with other cost-cutting measures.
“We will immediately erode the readiness of the force. Over the long term the discretionary budget caps under sequestration will fundamentally change our Navy. We will be compelled to reduce our force structure – our end strength,” explained Ferguson.
The military leaders were mixed on the desire to postpone a potential sequestration.
Ferguson pointed out that the fiscal impacts are not limited to operational concerns today.
“Like many Americans our Sailors, civilians and their families are experiencing increased anxiety as a result of this fiscal uncertainty – such as the Truman Strike Group. We must be mindful of the corrosive effect of this uncertainty on the morale of our people and be vigilant regarding the potential effects of Sequestration on the propensity of our force to stay with us and of new recruits to join. Accordingly, we will make every effort to sustain family and Sailor support programs,” Ferguson added.
Each of the military leaders echoed the real and immediate concerns of the DoD’s ability to provide America’s defense at current readiness levels if the combined sequestration and a yearlong continuing resolution become reality.
Naval Today Staff, February 13, 2013; Image: US Navy