Congressmen Buck McKeon revealed Wednesday at the Reagan Library his plan to reverse major military spending cuts.
The House Armed Services Committee Chairman called the 2013 fiscal budget from President Obama “concerning” and stated that in the latest budget, the Administration increased spending in nearly every government department, while the Military absorbed massive cuts.
McKeon stated that the budget cuts $43 billion from a wartime military: 23 ships from the Navy fleet, 150 planes from the Air Force, 80,000 soldiers from the Army and 20,000 Marines.
“The cuts take us right to the limit of acceptable risk,” McKeon said.
These “blind” cuts are due to a sequestration mechanism taking affect January 1 as a result of what McKeon calls Congressional Super Committee’s “failed” agreement on mandatory spending.
“A sequestration takes all the cuts outlined and doubles them…far past the limit of acceptable risk,” McKeon stated.
McKeon went on to say that this process would begin the cuts of approximately $100 billion a year from the military for the next decade.
The cuts will force another 100,000 troops out of the army and marines will shrink our navy to its smallest size since WWI and the Air Force will be its smallest in history, McKeon said.
“We estimate that around 1.5 million people will lose their job as a result of the defense cuts in sequestration,” McKeon said.
McKeon’s first pillar in revitalizing military forces is to resolve that sequestration. He introduced a bill that would pay down the first year of sequestration by “naturally” shrinking the Federal workforce.
“That workforce has grown exponentially since 2009. The president proposes laying off more than 120,000 troops. He has hired 120,000 new federal bureaucrats,” McKeon said.
The bill does not fire federal workers, but decreases their ranks “naturally”.
“If one person quits or retires, two others [workers] must quit or retire before an agency can hire another worker,” McKeon informed.
His second pillar focuses on reversing the massive defense cuts. According to McKeon, the second pillar along with the enacted Budget Control Act he voted for operate as a first line of defense against a Government default that would have cut off salary payments to the troops.
Restoring and rebuilding America’s Military is the aim of McKeon’s third pillar. It highlights upgrading old equipment and focuses on restoring a nuclear deterrent, which he says is “falling apart after two decades of neglect.”
McKeon informed that Defense is less than 20 percent of the federal budget and accounts for half of the spending cuts
However, the defense budget plans to enhance the Administration’s commitment to maintain a reliable nuclear deterrent by increasing investments in the nuclear weapons complex.
It also outlines weapon delivery technologies to nonproliferation by investing in securing, detecting and neutralizing nuclear threats around the world.
But the Chairman said he is open to any compromise or any plan that pays down sequestration in a responsible manor without crippling Americans with tax hikes during this fragile recovery.
He believes that we must make preparedness a top nation security priority.
“Iran’s quest for nuclear weapon is perhaps the gravest threat to the global order we have seen since the collapse of communism,” McKeon said.
According to McKeon, America spends about half of our base defense budget on personnel, investing in their health care, and education and living allowances for the troops.
“China buys things that shoot. And they can buy far more of them for their dollar than we can.
“Can we afford to believe that China, which just this month, announced a 12 percent increase on military spending, will allow our pacific allies to live in peace,” McKeon asked.
McKeon then switched his military spending efforts to the war on terrorism fought in Afghanistan.
“This past weekend it appears we’ve lost a solider to his demons and it cost many Afghan civilians their lives. People that we have tried desperately to help recover from three decades of conflict,” McKeon said.
McKeon shared his fear the America may be “adrift” and he is certain that the U.S. is suffering from a lack of commitment from the highest levels.
“We must do a better job of communicating the importance of this fight. We must do a better job highlighting the stories of courage and daring of our military and what they’ve etched into the stone of history. Our troops have earned that honor. And our troops deserve that honor.”
McKeon believes that the U.S. can still leave Afghanistan with our heads held high and the Taliban defeated, but it will take resolve and patience.