USA: CNO Speaks Out on Sequestration’s Impact on Navy’s Top Priorities
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert joined the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to testify before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Feb. 13 on the potential impact of sequestration and the lack of an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013.
During the hearing, Greenert illustrated the significant impacts the combined effects of a yearlong continuing resolution and sequestration will have in reducing the Navy’s ability to achieve his top three priorities of, “Warfighting First,” “Operate Forward,” and “Be Ready.”
“We’ll have inadequate surge capacity at the appropriate readiness to be there when it matters, where it matters,” Greenert said in his opening statement setting a stark tone of his testimony before the committee.
Greenert said that in order for the Navy to continue being ready when it matters, where it matters, congress must act-and act fast as the ramifications will be felt, at a minimum, through next year.
“Sequestration and the lack of an appropriations bill will have an irreversible and debilitating impact on the Navy’s readiness through at least 2014,” Greenert said. “We will not be able to respond in the way the nation has expected and depended.”
The Chairman of the HASC, Congressman Buck McKeon, asked Greenert to put into operational terms some of what the Navy would no longer be able to do if sequestration went into effect on March 1.
“We [will] have no ships in the Southern Command, so the hundreds of tons of drugs that are being intercepted, there’s nobody to do that,” Greenert said. “And we’re not nurturing future relationships there and keeping stability down there.”
Greenert also pointed out there would only be one aircraft carrier to support strikes in Afghanistan while simultaneously maintaining stability and deterrence in the Arabian Gulf.
Greenert’s picture of a post-sequestration fleet became grimmer as he went down the line cutting operations that would no longer be sustainable such as counter piracy and quick reaction teams in Africa and ballistic missile defense overseas.
Greenert elaborated in detail the material consequences of continued gridlock over the passage of a budget resolution to avoid sequestration.
“The condition and expected service life of our ships and aircraft will further degrade,” Greenert said. “We will be forced to cancel or slow procurement of relevant platforms and systems needed to preserve our warfighting superiority.”
Greenert further illustrated the cascading effect of today’s fiscal decisions on future readiness and the community.
“The decisions we’ve had to make did not come without significant consequences to our people, to the defense industry, or to local economies. Impacts of funding we realign today cascade into future years,” Greenert said.
Greenert firmly stated to reporters after the hearing that one area he will fight to preserve and protect is family readiness and wellness.
“Family programs are important,” Greenert said. “I do not want those constrained.”
Greenert said during his testimony that he worries about the furlough of civilian employees who support the fleet and specifically the ones employed at the fleet family service centers, child care centers, those who are sexual assault advocates and in sexual assault prevention.
“All of those we worry about,” Greenert said. “And I’m working very hard, and I’ve directed that we will not unfund, [for savings] our programs, our family readiness programs. We will protect those and so I’m watching that very closely.”
Naval Today Staff, February 14, 2013; Image: US Navy