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Joint Chiefs Chairman Warns of 'Hollow Force'

12:54 PM, Feb 14, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning "that [defense] sequestration would pose unacceptable risk":

Here's how the Foreign Policy Initiative described the sequestration back in November, before the deadline: "If this so-called 'Super Committee' falls short—or if the required deficit reduction legislation is not enacted by January 15, 2012—then the Pentagon’s long-term budget will suffer the brunt of the consequences.  Specifically, it will face not only lowered “sequestration” ceilings on spending that will effectively cut more than $500 billion from what the Pentagon was projected (based on Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal) to spend over the next ten years, but also “sequestration” cuts that will further indiscriminately slash as much as $500 billion more.  In all, sequestration’s spending ceilings and cuts could effectively trim anywhere from $500 billion to over $1 trillion from projected long-term defense spending."

For Dempsey, the sequestration results in "unacceptable risk." "Here's why," Dempsey said this morning. "There's physics involved. In this budget, we have decided to off-ramp a certain number of service men and women. And we've about maxed out our ability to do that with the proper dignity and respect to the force. So 10 [or] 15,000 forces a year is about as many as you can ask and still have enough influence on how they do that. That's kind of maxed out right now. It's pretty clear to me that we're going to have some challenges with infrastructure and changes to it . . . So if we fix those two variables in sequestration, I can't . . . ask soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, to leave quicker than they're going to leave. And I can't touch infrastructure. Sequestration leaves me three places to go to find the additional money: operations, maintenance, and training. That's the definition of a hollow force."

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