On March 1st, the President and Congress failed to reach an agreement on how to avoid the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts.
The across the board cuts will have an effect on every federal agency including Homeland Security and the Pentagon. Though every agency will feel the sting of the cuts, many within the defense sector are predicting that the Sequester will cause utter chaos for U.S. Defense.
ABC News reported that many agencies were already preparing to tell their employees that they would have to take one unpaid day off per week. (1)
Advocates for federal defense contend that U.S. defense would be crippled beyond just forced furloughs. Yet, there are others who feel that we should not go into panic mode just yet.
With the Sequester in effect, the U.S. defense’s share of the cuts amounts to roughly $46 billion dollars.
These cuts would have to be made from now until September 30th. The $46 billion is in addition to the $487 billion that the Department of Defense must reduce within the next decade.
When questioned about the effects on PBS News Hour, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter stated:
“This is very damaging to national security.”(2)
Like other agencies, the Department of Defense is planning to furlough many of its civilian employees at least one day a week. This furlough would affect roughly 80,000 federal employees, most of whom perform blue collar jobs such has naval repair and aircraft maintenance.
Other Jobs Affected by Sequester
However, civilian blue collar positions are not the only defense jobs that will be affected by the Sequester.
According to Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill, National Guard members nationwide, especially military technicians, will be hit hard by the cuts. Military technician positions do include some blue collar jobs, but the classification also includes such positions as IT administrators and Trainers. In a press release, National Guard officials stated:
More than half of the National Guard’s full-time members may be furloughed, resulting in maintenance backlogs for all states and curtailment of critical training, especially aviation crew training, that potentially cripples one of the essential 10 capabilities that governors and first responders rely upon in disaster situations. (3)
Officials went on to state that these backlogs and curtailments could affect more than 13,000 National Guardsmen who are called to mitigate natural disasters, industrial accidents, and acts of terror.
On March 1, 2013, the day the sequester was authorized, the Department of Defense issued another press release that stated, “Soldier and Marine training, Air Force flying hours and Navy steaming days are being curtailed thanks to the $47 billion in cuts DOD must make before Sept. 30, 2013.” (4)
With so many training hours being cut, defense officials feel that the military will not be able to successfully fulfill their respective missions.
According to CBS, the Department of Defense is planning to increment the cuts. At first minor things, such as flyovers for funerals and graduations, have been cut immediately; however, by April, the DoD plans on cutting deep.
CBS reported that next month, “The Navy will shut down an entire carrier air wing and the Army will stop bringing in equipment for major overhauls.”
How Serious Is the Sequester?
Even though it seems that most reports are taking a Chicken Little approach claiming that the sky is falling, not everyone seems to agree with that sentiment.
The CATO Institute contends that the Sequester will not make America any less safe. On February 26, the CATO Institute released an infographic that depicted that the U.S. spends more today than it did during the Cold War.
According to the CATO Institute, even with the sequester in place, “Military spending will remain at roughly 2006 levels—$603 billion, higher than peak U.S. spending during the Cold War.” (5)
CATO believes such spending is more than enough to keep Americans safe.
So, with the authorization of the Sequester, does it mean that Department of Defense will be unable to adequately protect American citizens? Or, are military officials just trying to whip Americans into frenzy in an effort to keep the DoD’s funding and Americans will be safe?
No one really knows what the Sequester will bring, but with its signing on this past Friday, it seems that we are destined to find out.