Saturday, February 28, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Deep military cuts begin as congress dawdles

By
From page B10 | February 03, 2013 |

Congressional leaders appear to have reached consensus that it is safer politically to allow deep and arbitrary cuts to military budgets than it is to negotiate a large debt-reduction deal that would have names attached.

With Republicans and Democrats unwilling to make difficult decisions to address budget deficits in a balanced way, the military is being forced to cut training, cancel construction projects, defer maintenance of ships, aircraft and vehicles, cancel professional conferences, halt most temporary duty assignments and interrupt supply and equipment purchases.

Quality of life for the military also is being affected as dependents lose jobs, local economies and businesses lose contracts and base operations, including family support programs, take immediate budget cuts.

The entire Department of Defense has imposed a civilian-hiring freeze. At least 46,000 temporary employees are getting pink slips and many more employees under “term” contracts won’t see those contracts renewed.

Gordon Adams, a national security policy specialist with the Stimson Center and a senior White House budget official in the last Clinton administration, said he is “amazed” to watch congressional leaders, in effect, “fold their hands” on trying to prevent deeper defense cuts this year.

With the Iraq war ended and U.S. combat forces scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, defense “is not the centerpiece” of the Capitol Hill budget argument.

“The centerpiece is the overall federal budget and (tax) revenue. . . . This is leadership driven. The armed services committees are almost irrelevant, which is very unusual.”

Even as Defense officials and military leaders ordered commands to take broad cost-cutting actions, they held out hope Congress would come to share their concern and take two remedial actions.

One is to pass a defense appropriations bill for the fiscal year that began last October, thus removing spending caps imposed by operating through March under continuing budget resolution. The resolution freezes their budgets just below 2012 levels.

Service officials now fear Congress intends to extend the continuing resolution through September. If so, at a minimum, they seek authority to “reprogram” or transfer money between accounts to fully fund their highest priorities to sustain operations and protect readiness.

Second, Defense officials want Congress to swiftly reach a deficit reduction deal and avoid budget sequestration, which as adjusted during the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff deal, would still impose an 8 percent cut across 2,500 separate defense programs. Sequestration was a scheme Congress concocted in 2011 to scare itself into a debt deal. It has failed.

Effective Feb. 15, the Navy will cancel private-sector contracts for ship maintenance in the last half of fiscal 2013, impacting 10 ships in Norfolk, Va., 10 more in San Diego and one ship apiece in New London, Conn.; Bremerton, Wash.; and Jacksonville, Fla. This alone will save an estimated $600 million.

“The way we have tried to manage this is to protect forward-deployed readiness so that are ships, aircraft and sailors forward deployed can continue to do what they need to do. Their mission won’t be affected,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, Navy chief of information, in a phone interview.

The next goal is to protect training and readiness for “next-to-deploy forces.” That might not be possible, however, if Congress allows sequestration to take effect as rescheduled on March 1, Kirby warned.

Operating under a continuing resolution popped a $4.6 billion hole in Navy operations and maintenance budgets. Sequestration would expand that hole by $4 billion, explained Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, in fleet-wide message Jan. 25. The Navy would have to stop all deployments to the Caribbean and South America, limit European deployments to ballistic missile defense ships only and cut steaming and flying hours across the fleet. A majority of ships and aircraft preparing for deployment would see stateside training, flying and steaming operations end, he warned, unless fleet commanders find other budget offsets.

That word “unless” in Greenert’s guidance is significant, Adams said. Like the other services, Adams argued, Navy paints worst-case scenarios for operating under a continuing budget resolution through September and taking the additional sequestration hit.

When actually forced to take those cuts, Adams said, sequestration would allow flexibility in how operations and maintenance dollars get chopped. The service can, for example, target personnel service contracts, which have ballooned over a decade of war.

“It’s everything from cutting the grass at Fort Belvoir to serving the food at Bagram Air Base,” Adams said. “That’s an area, given our departure from Iraq and coming out of Afghanistan, that ought to be a low priority.”

The Army’s own “risk mitigation” budget guidance directs a 30-percent cut in base operations support to include “reduced levels of installation service delivery and reduced new and current contracts” for the same. To help to implement this, Army leaders promise further guidance “on the use of soldiers to perform installation functions.”

“That’s where you can manage” priorities, Adams said. “You might actually have a soldier pushing a lawnmower at Fort Belvoir come spring.”

Congress seems resigned to allow sequestration, he said, in part because it’s easier than reaching a balanced budget deal and in part because lawmakers recognize the military is in a post-war drawdown, a period when taking deep spending cuts is natural, particularly for ground forces.

Kirby countered that the Navy isn’t drawing down, however.

“All by itself, the continuing resolution is going to have a readiness impact. Those ships will have to get maintenance sooner or later and it is probably going to cost more. Just like maintenance on your car, defer it and when you finally get it into the garage you’re probably going to need more work than you originally needed and it will cost you more.

“The other cost is time,” Kirby continued. “If you had that ship scheduled for deployment in 2014 or ’15, now it will not be achievable because of needed maintenance. There’s a real readiness impact.”

Write Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, email [email protected] or tweet Tom Philpott @Military_Update.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

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

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Hop to it: Vacaville ready for rabbit invasion

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    True grit: Travis Teacher of the Year refuses to accept failure

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Firefighters garner praise, Scout earns Eagle rank

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Exercise machine toppled on him, man says

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
     
    Vasculitis is inflammation of blood vessels

    By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

     
    Fairfield police log: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun City police log: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    .

    US / World

    Man shoots wife, himself at Northern Calif. retirement home

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Commuter with measles also dined at Bay Area restaurant

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Thieves crash car through electronics store in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Some California farmers to go without federal water

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Orange County case challenges legality of tiered water rates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    US appeals court: Marathon bombing trial can stay in Boston

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Congress OKs 1-week bill to keep Homeland Security open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    US rescinds rule requiring judges to move to Guantanamo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    US, Liberia start 1st formal test of ZMapp Ebola virus drug

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Gunman kills 7, commits suicide, in house-to-house rampage

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Woman knocked out by eggs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Mexico official: Police capture top capo ‘La Tuta’ Gomez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Well-educated ‘Jihadi John’ no surprise to experts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Unmasking of ‘Jihadi John’ as a London lad shocks Britain

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Opinion

    How GOP can resolve immigration mess

    By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8

     
    Unlikely winners of Greece’s surrender on euro

    By Mark Gilbert | From Page: A8

    A remedy for veterans’ care

    By Bill Frist And Jim Marshall | From Page: A8

     
    Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    .

    Living

    Today in History: Feb. 28, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Feb. 28, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

     
    Poem about heaven helps dog owners when beloved pet dies

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

    Coca-Cola bottle as art? Atlanta’s High Museum takes a look

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Entertainment

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

    .

    Sports

    SCC women’s basketball out of playoffs after 74-47 loss

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

     
    Vaca advances three wrestlers into semis at Masters

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

     
    Spurs snap 4-game skid, beat short-handed Kings 107-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Thompson scores 25 points, Warriors rout Raptors 113-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Casey McGehee’s move to Giants a homecoming of sorts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Bulls expect Derrick Rose back this season from knee surgery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Testimony: Several Hernandez texts are missing from phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Approaching ‘last call’ for NHL GMs to tweak rosters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    PGA Tour to move Match Play to Texas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Notre Dame president credited for transforming school dies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    MLS Commissioner Garber: Hopeful season will start on time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Travis Kvapil’s NASCAR car stolen from hotel before race

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    McIlroy to miss cut at Honda Classic; Reed leads

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    NHL fines Sharks’ Couture $5,000 for tripping from behind

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Browns agree to terms with quarterback Josh McCown

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Kyle Busch released from hospital following foot surgery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
     
    This date in sports history for Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    .

    Business

    Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Uber says database containing driver info was breached

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Signed contracts to buy US homes rise to 18-month high

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fiat Chrysler recalls 467K SUVs for possible stalling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    US consumer sentiment slips in February on icy weather

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Southwest nearly done inspecting planes that were grounded

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    5 reasons US economy is stronger than Q4 GDP suggests

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

     
    Tribes from around US gather to discuss legal marijuana

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Gabriel T. Traub

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Maria Kraszewski

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Home Seller 2/28/2015

    Right at Home: Decor made of bicycle parts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

    Real estate transactions for Feb. 28, 2015

    By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

    Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.80 percent

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3