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Military Leaders: Defense Cuts Undermining our Ability to Protect the Nation
Posted by Randy | October 05, 2011

Over the past several weeks, I have shared with you my thoughts on looming defense cuts and the damaging effect they will have on our national security, as well as the economic well-being of our troops and our country.

Now, I want to share with you what our military leaders are saying about the impact of defense cuts.


“This mechanism would force defense cuts that, in my view, would do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect this country. It is kind of a blind formula that makes cuts all across the board, and guarantees that we will hollow out the force.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Question before Senate Armed Services Committee referencing an additional $600 billion in defense cuts:
"If we pull that trigger, will we be shooting ourselves in the foot?" Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s answer:  "We'd be shooting ourselves in the head."

"I also share your deep trepidation over sequestration and the potential for cuts so devastating and so dramatic that we place at risk the very security we’re charged to provide, that we negate the very reason we exist."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“It has a good chance of breaking us and putting us in a position to not keep faith with this all volunteer force that's fought two wars and that needs to be reset in everything else that we look at for the future….And I think it would be incredibly dangerous for our country's national security to go there. And to your point, we are not going to solve that debt problem on the back of the Pentagon. You can't do it if you zeroed the budget.”
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

“The roughly $1 trillion in cuts … would seriously weaken our military, and it would really make us unable to protect this nation from a range of security threats that we face...[It] will not only impact our military strength, I think it will impact our economic strength as well. Cancellation of weapon systems, construction projects, research activity would seriously cripple our industrial base."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“There will be tough decisions and tough trade-offs. This will force us to take on greater risk.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on $400 billion cuts already enacted

"We are not going to solve the national debt challenge on the back of the military. There are whole host of other issues that have to be addressed in order to significantly reduce that debt."
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

It will be "extraordinarily difficult and very high risk" to cut $1 trillion from defense spending.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey

“These sorts of ill-conceived reductions in defense spending would inflict real damage to the well-being of our Airmen and their families, and ultimately undermine our ability to protect the Nation.”
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norty Schwartz

Trillion dollar defense cuts, “would be devastating for the military, forcing spending reductions that likely would necessitate shrinking the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to the smallest numbers in decades and also lead to the smallest Navy in nearly 100 years.”
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“There is no doubt in my mind that the continued strength and global reach of the American military will remain the greatest deterrent against aggression and the most effective means of preserving peace in the 21st century, as it was in the 20th.”
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

"Everything's on the table, everything's being discussed. There are all sorts of scenarios. We're looking at every aviation program, every shipbuilding program. We're trying to wring out cost wherever and whenever we can find it."
Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work

Cutting another $600 billion from national defense "is a red line that this government should not cross."
Pentagon Spokesperson George Little

“Currently, we are not able to meet all the forward presence requirements of the other combatant commanders… in the case of another major contingency operation, the United States Marine Corps would not, right now, be able to meet the timelines of the combatant commanders in response to another major contingency operation should it occur simultaneously with current operations in Afghanistan.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would start to have to make some fundamental changes in the capability of the Marine Corps.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps

“I will tell you that some of our low-density, high-demand requirements, personnel recovery, ISR, and a few are right at the ragged edge. In reference to $1trillion cuts, “We would have to go into a fundamental restructure of what it is our nation expects from our Air Force.”
General Philip M. Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

On current ability to meet needs of commanders in field, “No, we cannot meet all the other COCOM commander's validated demands. Those are prioritized through the global force management process. We work hard to meet them. We are not able to meet them all.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “You're reaching an area there that I think would definitely we'd have to look very, very hard at our strategy, what we can and cannot do.”
General Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

“To meet Combatant Commanders needs unconstrained, doing some analysis, I need about 400 ships. I have 285 ships.” In reference to $1trillion cuts, “If we have a reduction of the kind that was passed around here - $400 billion or $886 billion - without a comprehensive strategic review, a fundamental look at what were asking our forces to do, we won't be able to meet the Global Force Management Plan today.  It will exacerbate our readiness trends. And if we have to go to a reduction of force structure, I am concerned about the industrial base.”
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy

Read more here: www.forbes.house.gov/strongamerica
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  • Thomas G commented on 10/5/2011
    The greatest threat to America is refusal to modify the global force management process that yields limited security and that has become enormously expensive. Apparently those sounding the alarm regarding cuts have zero confidence in congressional leadership essential to moving the nation forward with more reasonable objectives aligning with technological advances, skilled diplomatic initiatives and rooted in financial realities. This congress is not going to get the job done and the American people are going to have to fix this by replacing this congress, and they know this now. In the end this congress will choose to bring the military to its knees by siding with millionaires and billionaires and the corporate lobbyists and this will expose the fraud for all to see. It is already obvious to most Americans. When the chairman of the Federal Reserve testified, just yesterday that the public has no confidence in the congress's ability to act on the economy he is essentially communicating the same frustration as military leaders....the sad reality that our politicians are failing in every aspect of governance. Michael Moore was right....Here Comes Trouble.
  • Thomas G commented on 10/6/2011
    This quote is what the congress needs to hear and does not hear...We are not going to solve the national debt challenge on the back of the military. There are whole host of other issues that have to be addressed in order to significantly reduce that debt." Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen Now, congressman Forbes...there is simply no grounds whatsoever to suggest that the Bush tax cuts you supported and voted for led us to the debt nightmare. You refuse to even consider a 1 penny increase in the tax of millionaires and billionaires. Admiral Mullen may have the grace not to call it like it is explictly, but I will....if you want to remain in the congress then admit to your mistakes, take ownership for the votes that helped to create this nightmare, rescind that ridiculous commitment to Grover Norquist and stop being a barrier to progress. Your vote for the discredited Ryan plan attempts to put the burden squarely on those least able to fund thirst for war, and does not ask millionaires and billionaires to do anything. Further, even the Ryan plan would have required an increase in the debt limit, another critical requirement which you did not vote for...so it was obvious, not serious about doing anything to move the nation forward. Those votes failed Mr. Forbes because the policy was flawed, you couldn't make the case, the American people did not desire those outcomes. It demonstrates the incredible disconnect between the public and its representatives. Your refusal to end subsidies of billions of dollars for the oil and gas industry leaves us all totally bewildered. It is only a matter of time before the thousands on Wall Street and across the nation end up on your office doorstep. We need you and your colleagues to ACT...CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?
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