America’s all-volunteer military is the most well-trained, well-equipped fighting force the world has ever seen. But the strength of our armed forces should not be taken for granted.
Unfortunately, the impact of looming defense cuts would be catastrophic to our military, local communities and veterans. If no action is taken by January 1st, the military will be levied with over $1.029 trillion in cuts to our National Defense over the next 10 years.
These scheduled defense cuts would cause roughly 200,000 active duty service members to be forced to leave service, which would be the equivalent of eliminating the entire Marine Corps. And 80-100,000 of these end strength reductions are likely to come from the Army National Guard. This would cripple states’ ability to respond to a natural disaster or terrorist attack, and severely limit the Army’s flexibility to respond to a major contingency overseas. Future military veterans and retirees could have their retirement pay significantly delayed and/or reduced. Finally, our defense manufacturing base will be eroded. With procurement declining precipitously not only will this put many skilled American’s out of work, it undercuts the future readiness of our Armed Forces and has a ripple effect on our economy. George Mason University analysis shows that over 352,000 jobs will be lost from prime DoD contractors and their suppliers.
Our military leaders have have also provided candid but alarming testimony on the specter of further cuts. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said, “We will not be there to deter our potential adversaries. … And we certainly won’t be there to contain small crises before they become major conflagrations.” Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli cautioned, “We will end up with a force that is not modernized, is an unbalanced force, and in the end, it will cost us lives.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta went as far as to say that such cuts would amount to “shooting ourselves in the head.”
But while these facts are widely known in Washington, few understand the complicated process of “sequestration” and the impacts it will have on our nationals security. That is why I will be hosting a Listening Session, entitled “Defending Our Defenders” at the Chesapeake Conference Center in Chesapeake, Virginia on Monday, May 14th at 6:30pm. This town hall-style forum will include brief information from a Congressional delegation (including Reps. Rigell and Wittman from Hampton Roads) on the impact of potential defense cuts. A moderated “open mic” will allow participants to share stories, voice opinions and ask how defense cuts will impact our communities. In short, we want to hear from you!
Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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