The combination of uncertainty resulting from Congress’ reliance on stopgap spending bills and stringent fiscal constraints stemming from statutory budget caps has harmed readiness and jeopardized national security, the military’s most senior officers told lawmakers Thursday.
“Eight years of continuing resolutions, including a year of sequestration, have driven additional costs and time into just about everything that we do,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“The services are essentially operating in three fiscal quarters per year now. Nobody schedules anything important in the first quarter. The destruction that this uncertainty imposes translates directly into risk to our Navy and our nation,” Richardson said.
Several committee members pointed to Congress and the White House as the major culprits, reported the Hill.
“Do you agree with me, when you rank the threats to the military, you’d have to put Congress and the president in that mix if we don’t fix sequestration,” Graham asked the chiefs, who didn’t answer. “I’ll answer it for you. Yes.”
The service chiefs told the committee that one of the primary consequences of the budget caps was emphasizing immediate readiness over future preparedness.
“Funding levels require us to prioritize achieving full readiness only for our deploying units. These are ready for full-spectrum operations but we are compromising the readiness of those ships and aircraft that we will have to surge to achieve victory in a large conflict. And we have also curtailed our modernization in a number of areas critical to staying ahead of our potential adversaries,” Richardson said, reported DOD News.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said his service will continue to prioritize and fully fund readiness over end strength, modernization and infrastructure to sustain the pace of current operations.
To watch a webcast of the hearing, visit the committee’s website.