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.”