WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is slapping back at politicians and pundits who suggest that defense leaders and the Obama administration are guilty of using scare tactics in the debate over automatic budget cuts set to kick in Friday.
“There seems to be a belief in some quarters that when it comes to negative impact that sequester will have on our national defense and military readiness, the Department of Defense is crying wolf,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said Tuesday. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
DOD leaders and the military service chiefs have all warned of drastic cuts to operations, maintenance and training if the defense cuts of $500 billion over 10 years, known as sequestration, are triggered Friday by Congress’s failure to pass deficit cutting measures.
With both parties struggling to pin blame for the impending cuts on the other, some top Republicans are discounting the apocalyptic tone some in the administration have used when discussing the “doomsday” sequestration mechanism. A common refrain is that the Pentagon can still effectively defend the nation even if it loses several percentage points of its massive yearly budget. “Personally, I don’t believe the world will end if the president’s sequester takes effect,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday.
Blithe acceptance of sequestration isn’t possible once you look closely at how it will affect the nation’s defense, Little contended.
“We’ve done the detailed analysis, we’ve done the line item analysis, we know what our budget is – it’s tied to a strategy,” he said. “A CR (continuing resolution) plus sequester equals devastating, equals uncertainly, equals effects on military readiness, and we need to get beyond it.
“ If you sense a little bit of frustration from me and from others at the Pentagon, you’re sensing correctly. This is stupid.”