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Sequestration Debate: Military Personnel at Risk?

The debate over potential impacts from sequestration continues. Last week Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked Congress for relief from $50MM in sequestration cuts. In Forbes, Loren Thompson writes: “What the defense secretary is saying is that if defense sequestration stays on track, U.S. forces could be defeated in future wars, and more warfighters than necessary might die.  Maybe thousands.  Maybe tens of thousands.  Why?  Because the force will not be trained and equipped to the level required to prevail against technologically advanced adversaries.  You know — the kind of adversaries who haven’t been challenging us lately because America’s military has the best training and technology in the world.”

Thompson continues: “It doesn’t take much imagination to see what a combination of reduced readiness and less investment in new weapons might mean for the future performance of the joint force.  Military preparedness can disappear quickly if equipment isn’t repaired and renewed, and warfighters don’t get adequate training.  As standards decline, the most capable warfighters — the ones with options — begin to drift away to other pursuits.  Only a few years after winning World War Two, the U.S. military suffered humiliating setbacks in Korea due to shortages of equipment and skills.”

“That is the path on which defense sequestration has now placed America’s warfighters.  They are losing their edge and someday, maybe someday soon, lives will be lost unnecessarily as a result.  Lack of preparedness tends to encourage aggression.  The White House seems to think that if it just waits, the Republicans will so impair their electoral prospects with cuts to agriculture, healthcare and defense that it can get a firmer grip on the system and fix the problems caused by sequestration.  By that time that day arrives, though, it may be too late for America’s warfighters.  They may be paying with their lives for the failures of our dysfunctional political system.”

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