Defense Sequestration

Senator says Cherry Point needs an update

June 01, 2016

Havelock Mayor Will Lewis, US Senator Thom Tillis

by Drew Wilson, Havelock News

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis toured Cherry Point on Wednesday afternoon and later met with base supporters, telling them the base’s infrastructure “needs to be updated.” He went on to say, “we have got to change the culture” with respect to spending and “figure out where the best use of the dollar is.”

He said that 45 percent of the Marine Corps was located in Eastern North Carolina and that the bases here represented “the tip of the spear.”

“If we don’t have them ready, equipped and trained, they can’t protect us,” Tillis said. >>READ MORE


Some officials encourage BRAC to save mission readiness

March 18, 2015


Infrastructure Funding Level Poses Risk, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2015 – Service officials responsible for infrastructure described for Congress yesterday a need throughout the Defense Department for infrastructure reduction and improved funding for military construction.

Representatives from all four military services told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee that budget cuts have harmed mission readiness by delaying repairs and improvements to infrastructure. And each cited a deep need for a new base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC, to eliminate excess infrastructure.

The alternative to a new BRAC round is to make up for funding shortages in ways that will increase risk, said Army Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, assistant chief of staff for installation management and commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.

Excess capacity will only increase as end strength declines, the officials noted. The Army’s facility capacity is 18 percent greater than it needs, Halverson said. Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy S. Green, deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support and Air Force director of civil engineers said his service’s excess capacity stands at 30 percent of the total infrastructure.

Will BRAC realign infrastructure capacity with mission requirements?

“We believe BRAC will provide the most comprehensive, transparent and collaborative way to align infrastructure capacity with mission requirements,” Green said.

Army Infrastructure

“The Army is at a critical point in installation readiness,” Halverson said. “Sequestration … is affecting the Army’s ability to provide facilities that our all-volunteer soldiers and their families rely and depend upon to sustain readiness and maintain their quality of life.” Sequestration is a term used for deep spending cuts scheduled to take effect in October unless Congress changes the budget law.

The Army’s funding request is the minimum to meet its essential requirements, Halverson told the subcommittee. “Our request focuses [military construction] investments on supporting readiness initiatives and revitalizing failed facilities,” he said.

“Although we are asking for a 26 percent increase in the [fiscal year 2015] military construction, family housing and base closure activities, it is important to note that the $1.6 billion request is a 33 percent reduction from [fiscal 2014] and a 55 percent reduction from [fiscal 2013],” Halverson added. “Any further reductions will put us at the brink of breaking our soldiers’ trust that we will provide them the right resources to prepare for any contingency.”

Navy Infrastructure

Budget shortfalls over the past few years have forced the Navy to reduce funding to shore infrastructure to preserve fleet operational readiness, Erin M. Kern, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, told the senators.

“As a result, many of our shore facilities are degrading at an accelerated rate,” she said. “At sequestration levels, this risk will be exacerbated and the condition of our shore infrastructure — including piers, runways and mission-critical facilities — will further erode. We will run a greater risk of mishaps, serious injury and health hazards to personnel.”

The Navy hasn’t yet recovered from sequestration in fiscal year 2013, Kern told the subcommittee.

“Our 2016 budget request funds the sustainment, restoration and modernization of our facilities only enough to arrest the immediate decline in condition of our most critical infrastructure,” she said.

Marine Corps Infrastructure

The Marine Corps’ first priority is to reinforce the near-term readiness capabilities of deployed Marines, said David R. Clifton, deputy assistant deputy commandant for facilities, installations and logistics and deputy commander of Marine Corps Installations Command.

“To accomplish that priority in fiscal year ’16, the Marine Corps must accept risk in our infrastructure and base operations, including our quality of life programs,” he said.

The infrastructure funds will go toward improved safety, security and environmental compliance, replacing aging infrastructure and demolishing inadequate, unneeded buildings, Clifton told the senators.

“Funding remains insufficient to prevent accelerated deterioration of our 12,000 buildings, range complexes, barracks and airfields,” he noted.

Air Force Infrastructure

“The Air Force’s $1.6 billion request is 65 percent higher than last year, but the projects to be funded support the national defense strategy and critical Air Force priorities,” Green said.

Without relief from sequestration, the Air Force could expect reductions in infrastructure funding that would touch every level of national security strategy, he said.

“It would likely result in reduced funding to support combatant commands, upgrade critical nuclear infrastructure, ensure facilities are in place for our modernized weapons systems as well as recapitalization of housing and dormitories,” Green added. “The Air Force would expect similar reductions in [fiscal 2016] facility sustainment, restoration and modernization accounts, forcing us to prioritize day-to-day maintenance activities at the expense of much-needed facility repairs.”

The Air Force’s fiscal year 2016 budget request allows it to begin addressing necessary infrastructure recapitalization and facility sustainment and repair backlogs that have contributed to the degradation of its combat support capabilities, Green said.


Navy, Marine Corps Officials Warn of Sequestration’s Impact

March 10, 2015


Navy, Marine Corps Officials Warn of Sequestration’s Impact

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2015 – The Navy and Marine Corps will be challenged to carry out their parts of the national defense strategy if billions of dollars in sequester-related budget cuts take effect Oct. 1, senior service officials told legislators on Capitol Hill today.

In prepared testimony, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told the Senate Armed Services Committee the service is still recovering from a $9 billion shortfall triggered in 2013 by the mandatory across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Further reductions, he added, would put U.S. sailors’ and Marines’ lives at increased risk, and negatively impact military readiness and national security.

“Unless naval forces are properly sized, modernized at the right pace, ready to deploy with adequate training and equipment, and able to respond with the capacity and speed required by combatant commanders, they will not be able to carry out the defense strategy,” Greenert testified, pointing out critical shortfalls in everything from ship deployments to munitions to the resiliency of sailors.

Greenert, who testified along with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, outlined many of the same points made during a hearing last week before the House Armed Services Committee. “In real terms, this means longer timelines to achieve victory, more military and civilian lives lost, and potentially less credibility to deter adversaries and assure allies,” Greenert said.

Possible Deep Budget Cuts

Under limits imposed on government spending as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, known as sequestration, the military is set to face another round of deep cuts when the new fiscal year begins Oct.1.

Dunford testified that sequestration-related cuts would impact readiness by leaving fewer forces able to respond to contingencies, where he said demand remains high. The commandant said the Marine Corps is already falling short on investments in modernization and that over half of nondeployed units report unacceptable levels of readiness.

“As the nation’s first responders, the Marine Corps’ home stationed units are expected to be in the same high state of readiness as deployed units,” said Dunford, adding that the Marine Corps is currently working on a detailed plan to enhance its overall readiness.

Mabus said the Marine Corps will hold for a year at an end strength of 184,000, while officials assess the impact of what has been an ongoing drawdown.

But despite budget austerity and an unpredictable security environment, in the end, Dunford said, “we will do what Marines have always done — innovate for the future, adapt to overcome and always win.”


House GOP Splits on Defense Sequestration

February 28, 2015

House GOP splits on defense sequestration. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

CAPITOL HILL: Tensions within the GOP over the mandatory budget caps set by the Budget Control Act burst into the open today. The chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee repeatedly warned colleagues and the leaders of the Air Force this morning that they had no choice and must live within the Budget Control Act’s spending limits.

Thornberry urges House Budget Committee Chairman to bust the budget caps for national security

Then, this afternoon, Rep. Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — and 30 of his fellow Republicans — wrote a 13-page letter to the House Budget committee chairman urging him to bust the budget caps in the interest of national security.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, HAC-D chairman, warned Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh quite sternly that: “We do have to cut $10 billion [from the Air Force budget request] with you, or we will cut $10 billion without you.” He’d said almost the same words to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonatan Greenert the day before. Those cuts, he reminded the Pentagon leaders and his members, would be required to comply with Budget Control Act, which is the law of the land, he noted.
Thornberry and his colleagues urged Price to set the committee’s mark at “the pre-sequestration BCA caps of $577.0 billion for national defense and $50.9 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations account. If this is not feasible in the first year, the committee recommends, at a minimum, last year’s House-passed Budget Resolution level of $566.0 billion for national defense in the base budget for FY16 with restoration to pre-sequestration level funding in FY17 and out.”Of course, one of the wonderful things about Congress is that it can write laws to get around existing laws. That was clearly what the 31 GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thornberry’s side were trying to encourage Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, to consider starting when he sets the budget limits to which each major committee in the House must mark its bill.

Price and Enzi to produce 2016 budget resolution by mid-to late April

Price and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Mike Enzi, are expected to produce the 2016 budget resolution by mid-to late April.

The Obama administration wants $561 billion for defense, which is $31 billion over the BCA caps. Thornberry and his colleagues are asking Price to approve $16 billion more than the Obama request.

The letter includes this pungent line, one sure to catch the eye of any Republican — except those who fancy themselves adherents of the Tea Party:

Reducing our military spending may bring about more instability in the world

“It may seem ironic, but is still true, that reducing our military spending in the hopes of improving our financial situation may well bring about more instability in the world – economic and otherwise – that damages our economy and undermines the American way of life.”

Not all of the committee’s senior Republicans signed the letter. A marked absence was Rep. Randy Forbes, chairman of the seapower and power projection subcommittee. Forbes told my colleague Sydney Freedberg he refused to sign the letter because the amounts Thornberry and co. requested were not high enough. “[When you say] ‘we wouldn’t do anything less than the president’s budget,’ by implication you’re saying you’ll accept the president’s budget,” Forbes said. “I reject that approach…. I think we have an obligation, at least some of us, to be a voice to say that’s not good enough.”

“We have had a series of roundtable discussions with service chiefs [recently],” Forbes said. New Marine Corps commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford said, and Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno agreed, that even the president’s request was not at the level they’d really need to meet new threats. “The commandant said if we go with the president’s numbers on the budget… the best I can do is to reset our military back to where it was over a decade ago. It would not even start to reconstitute us to where we need be for tomorrow,” Forbes recounted.

That’s why Forbes won’t sign Thornberry’s letter asking for the level of spending in the president’s budget, he said: “I reject that approach too, because I’m not content to build the armies of yesterday, I’m dedicated to building the armies of tomorrow,” Forbes said. “The men and women [of our military] deserve no more… our country can afford no less… as a party and a congress we should settle for no less…. which is going to be a dollar figure that is higher, Sydney, than even the president’s budget.”