Carter: US DoD Is Doing Everything to Minimize Effects of Sequestration

US DoD Is Doing Everything to Minimize Effects of Sequestration

The U.S. Defense Department is doing all it can to minimize the effects of sequestration spending cuts, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a “think tank” audience at Washington yesterday.

“We’re doing everything we can to manage our way through this very difficult and abrupt circumstance,” Carter said at the Center for a New American Security.

Carter said the $37 billion in fiscal year 2013 spending cuts would not be so bad for any one area if they were spread over all DOD accounts, but they cannot be, though DOD exempted warfighting accounts from any cuts.

The president exempted military compensation from sequestration, the deputy secretary said.

“Then we exempted a number of critical functions from sequester, for example, nuclear deterrence, our ability to respond to crises … and on down the line, taking some things off the table entirely,” he added.

The department then tried to protect those things critical to the execution of U.S. military strategy, Carter said, and applied the $37 billion reduction to what was left.

 “That hits particularly hard in the operations and maintenance accounts,” he told the audience. “These are the accounts that support training, and as a result, military readiness plummets.”

The Air Force has grounded 13 combat squadrons for the rest of the fiscal year. Navy officials have cancelled ship deployments and deferred maintenance. But the cuts hit particularly hard on the Army, Carter said.

The Army has cancelled most of its major training events for the rest of the fiscal year. The deputy secretary said he does not know how long it will take to reconstitute this readiness following sequestration.

 “At a minimum, [it’s] embarrassing to be doing this, in the eyes of friends and foes alike, and at a maximum, [it’s] unsafe,” he said of the sequestration cuts.

The situation reinforces in the minds of national security leaders the necessity to be prepared for what might happen in the future, Carter said.

Press release, June 13, 2013; Image: US DoD