Wednesday, August 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Budgetary chaos threatening defense, joint chiefs warn

By
From page C4 | January 20, 2013 |

Unbending politicians who hold defense budgets hostage while refusing to cut a deal to address the nation’s debt crisis are putting at risk the readiness of America’s armed forces, the Joint Chiefs warned Monday in “28-star” letter to the House and Senate armed services committees.

“We are on the brink of creating a hollow force due to an unprecedented convergence of budget conditions and legislation that could require (keeping) more forces than requested while underfunding (their) readiness,” the seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff complained in a “For Official Use Only” letter to committee chairmen Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Harold “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.

“Should this looming readiness crisis be left unaddressed,” they continued, “we will have to ground aircraft, return ships to port and stop driving combat vehicles in training. We will also be unable to reset and restore the force’s full-spectrum combat capability after over a decade of hard fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Even as the nation’s top generals and admirals pointed fingers at the mess lawmakers have made of their budgets, service leaders began notifying major commands to curtail spending immediately. For the Air Force and Navy departments, at least, that is to include a civilian-hiring freeze, except to fill readiness-critical jobs. Temporary workers will be dismissed and “term” employees will not see contracts renewed as they expire.

Army officials were not prepared to discuss specific moves its commands are taking to slow spending, but Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter gave guidance to every service on “near-term actions” they need to take to “mitigate” risk of running out of money in a Jan. 10 memo.

The most pressing issue is the last Congress failed to pass a 2013 defense appropriations bill. Instead, the Department of Defense is operating on a continuing resolution through March 27, which caps spending at 2012 levels. The trouble is the services have been spending beyond those levels on the assumption their 2013 budget request would be enacted.

The Navy estimates a funding shortfall at more than $4 billion for operations and maintenance – money needed to sustain training, maintain bases and operate ships and aircraft to prepare for deployment.

“Unless a spending bill is passed quickly by the new Congress,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus warned in a department-wide message Sunday, “we may be forced to operate under the same (continuing resolution)” through September. If the resolution is extended, he wrote, “the Navy and Marine Corps would not have enough money to meet (operations and maintenance) requirements.”

Air Force Secretary Mike Donley told reporters “budget gymnastics” were exerting “costly consequences upon the Air Force and our sister services and create an atmosphere of unease among many of our uniformed and civilian airmen.”

The Air Force projects a $1.8 billion shortfall in funds for overseas contingency operations. Air Force leaders referred to it Monday in an advisory to commands to take immediate steps to save money, including a hiring freeze, curtailment of all flying not directly tied to readiness and cancellation of all temporary duty assignments not mission-critical, such as attendance at conferences and training seminars.

Carter advised the services to avoid any cuts that would impact wartime operations or compromise wounded warrior programs and, “to the extent feasible,” they should protect family programs.

A second source of budget uncertainty is the threat of sequestration –an automatic 9-percent cut across 2,500 separate defense programs, which the 2011 Budget Control Act requires if Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on a $1 trillion plan – half from defense – to cut the nation’s debt. On New Year’s Day, Congress voted to push the deadline to avoid sequestration back two months, to March 1.

Defense Department comptroller Robert Hale, in a speech this month, said the continuing resolution plus the sequestration threat and decisions by Congress to block department cost-saving initiatives such as higher Tricare fees for retirees and retiring older ships, have destabilized budget planning.

“In more than three decades of working in and around the defense budget,” Hale said, “I have never seen a period facing any greater budgetary uncertainty then we are looking (now) through March. It gives a whole new meaning to the term March Madness and I can’t wait for it to be over.”

McKeon, the House committee chairman, acknowledged the turmoil created by the continuing resolution and sequestration in a statement. He described the 28-star letter as “serious and it is my hope that it serves as a wake-up call. The condition of our armed forces is swiftly declining and this is the first red-flag on what could be a hazardous road for our national security.”

But then McKeon, who pledged like so many Republicans never to raise taxes, said he hoped a copy of the Joint Chiefs’ letter had been sent to the Oval Office because President Obama shares blame for lack of a debt deal.

“While senior commanders’ cries for help are heeded and taken seriously on the Hill, the commander-in-chief continues to fail in his primary duty,” McKeon said. “He has yet to propose a solution to the crisis and he refuses to step off the podium and sit down at the negotiating table.”

The Joint Chiefs must have hoped that their letter would soften the political rhetoric. McKeon gave no sign that it had.

Operating under a continuing resolution, facing sequestration and perhaps facing even deeper defense cuts if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling in March, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a Pentagon press conference last week “we have no idea what the hell’s going to happen.”

That’s why, he said, the services need to reduce spending immediately to try to protect force readiness through this period of great uncertainty.

A period of uncertainty, he might have added, manufactured by politicians and delivered like a Bronx cheer to troops still at war.

Write Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, or email milupdate@aol.com or twitter: Tom Philpott @Military_Update.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • RichJanuary 20, 2013 - 1:04 pm

    I sure would like to know who bought off on this failed war strategy we have to bear now. We don't have resources to waste yet the war's outcome is fruitless. Wev'e worn down man and machines on a stone age enemy that doesn't even own a Cessna 152 much less an Air Force. Instead of pursuing a punitive war that is legally sufficient, we traitorously put our own troops on trial for offending the enemy. Your congressman, Garamendi the horrible, is all for this sort of garbage. Now come the consequences---Defeat instead of victory! Economic collapse instead of prosperity! Revolt and insurrection instead of national unity! Throughout history superpowers and empires had both strong economies and strong militaries--Each complementing the other as the pillars of the culture, civilization and nation they literally supported.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Walnut Grove shows a bit of historic Japan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Walnut Grove: Fun facts, things to see

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Ryde Hotel: A speakeasy from the past

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Solano County supervisors get raise

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A2, 9 Comments

Solano supervisors declare quake state of emergency

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Solano helps after Napa quake

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Weather for Aug. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B3

 
 
Solano promotes hand washing

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Solano College to host college transfer fair

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A6

 
Golf tournament to benefit college sport’s teams

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A6

Man steals car from Fairfield resident

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6, 6 Comments

 
Learn about local travel opportunities

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Pierce Brosnan thriller kicks off week’s new films

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
 
Museum guild schedules trip to historic San Francisco home

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A8

 
3 die in I-680 crash; 2 from Vacaville

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A9, 6 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 25, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 24, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 24, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Obama defends handling of veterans affairs issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 6 Comments

 
Arab strikes in Libya show impatience with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

AP sources: US surveillance planes fly over Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Napa quake stirs clamor for warning system

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

American woman held hostage in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Putin and Poroshenko meet for bilateral talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Group files petition to idle coastal nuke plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Israel, Hamas agree to open-ended Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Los Angeles schools halt iPad deal amid criticism

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Report finds 1,400 children exploited in UK town

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

Police: Slain woman ID’d ex-deputy as her attacker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Officials: Instructor accidentally killed by girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 10 Comments

Judges blast Indiana, Wisconsin gay marriage bans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
UN panel: Global warming human-caused, dangerous

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Opinion

How to reduce taxes without busting the budget

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A11

 
Abandoned carts are everyone’s responsibility

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

Editorial cartoons for Aug. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Question of the week: Is US policy on hostages correct?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Obama risks alienating Latinos from Dems

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

We were good parents. Why won’t our adult children help us out?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

Choosing chutney

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B7

 
Banishing the blues with healthy blueberry muffins

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Women talk about sports on CBS Sports Network

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Miley Cyrus’ date wanted by Oregon police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NBC’s Emmycast logs robust 15.6 million viewership

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

US teen Bellis, 15, stuns Cibulkova at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders CB DJ Hayden to start season on PUP list

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers prepare for possible Aldon Smith suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Serena Williams beats American teen at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Carter’s HR in 8th leads Astros over A’s 4-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Sarkisian: USC looking into Shaw’s heroic story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Davis, US men beat Slovenia in basketball exhibition

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Latest Astrodome proposal: massive indoor park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bumgarner flirts with perfection, finishes with 1-hitter in Giants win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

No reason to feel sorry for Jim Furyk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
TMS 2015 schedule springs back to night race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Love struck: Kevin Love pledges commitment to Cavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

UN health agency urges crackdown on e-cigarettes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Survey: US consumer confidence near a 7-year high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Burger King buys, plans expansion of Tim Hortons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Frank W. Moy Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lyle Cullum

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Gary Allen Person

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Florentino”Paul” Castaneda Bersola

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Nadine L Wetherell

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6