A bipartisan group of mmore than eighty influential national security experts, from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Michèle Flournoy to Bill Kristol, have written a letter to congressional leadership to urge increased defense spending.
"The trillion dollars of defense spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act and sequestration present a grave and growing danger to our national security. Even as threats intensify across the globe, these cuts are undermining the readiness of our forces today and investment in the critical capabilities they will need tomorrow. As the service chiefs recently testified before Congress, these cuts are putting American lives at risk," reads the letter, which is addressed to Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, Senator Reid, and Representative Pelosi.
"In the last three years, the Army’s strength has been cut by nearly 100,000 soldiers. The Navy’s contingency response force is at one-third the level of what it should be. Less than half of the Air Force’s combat squadrons are fully ready. Approximately half of the Marine Corps’ non-deployed units lack sufficient personnel, equipment, and training. These are just some of the shortfalls that led the bipartisan, congressionally-mandated National Defense Panel (NDP) to warn in its July 2014 report that the military’s “immediate readiness crisis” will “lead to a hollow force” if sequestration takes effect in fiscal year 2016.
"The National Defense Panel, which was co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and retired General John Abizaid, provided a solution to this crisis. The NDP recommended that “the President and Congress should repeal the Budget Control Act immediately and return as soon as possible to at least the funding baseline proposed” by former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates for fiscal years 2012 through 2016. The NDP also recommended that Congress should appropriate “funds on an emergency basis” to “remedy the short-term readiness crisis that already exists,” and provide the Secretary of Defense with “greater freedom of action and discretion” to implement reform within the Department of Defense.
"You have each expressed your opposition to the needless harm that the Budget Control Act and sequestration are inflicting on our Armed Forces. You now have an opportunity to end it. Congress should adopt a budget for fiscal year 2016 that puts us on a path to restore defense spending to at least the level recommended by Secretary Gates, including significantly greater funding than the President has requested.
"The budget resolution for fiscal year 2016 will indicate whether Congress is willing to meet its constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. A budget resolution that holds the Defense Department at Budget Control Act levels would be a failure to do so."
The letter was written and organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative.
Here's the full list of signatories:
Elliott Abrams, Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, Dr. David Adesnik, Dr. Frederick W. Kagan, Dr. Michael Auslin, Dr. Kimberly Kagan, Gary Bauer, Dr. Robert Kagan, Senator Evan Bayh, Ilan Berman, ADM Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), Dan Blumenthal, Craig Kennedy, Ambassador John R. Bolton, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Max Boot, Dr. William Kristol, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, Dr. Matthew Kroenig, Shawn Brimley, Congressman Melvin Laird, Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, Dr. Paul Lettow, Gen James E. Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), Dr. Robert J. Lieber, Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Senator Norm Coleman, Tod Lindberg, Seth Cropsey, Mary Beth Long, Jack David, Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken, Dr. Janine Davidson, Dr. Michael Makovsky, James S. Denton, LTG Michael D. Maples, USA (Ret.), Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret.), Congressman Jim Marshall, Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, Clifford D. May, Thomas Donnelly, Robert C. McFarlane, Mark Dubowitz, Dr. Joshua Muravchik, Dr. Colin Dueck, Ambassador John Negroponte, Mackenzie Eaglen, Dr. Michael O'Hanlon, Ambassador Eric S. Edelman, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Douglas J. Feith, Danielle Pletka, Ambassador Julie Finley, Stephen G. Rademaker, Michèle Flournoy, Dr. Michael Rubin, Richard Fontaine, Daniel F. Runde, David Frum, Randy Scheunemann, Dr. Robert M. Gates, Dr. Gary J. Schmitt, Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin, Dan Senor, Christopher J. Griffin, Vance Serchuk, Stephen J. Hadley, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, John P. Hannah, Senator Jim Talent, Brian Hook, Dr. Daniel Twining, Peter R. Huessy, Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein, Dr. William C. Inboden, Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, Roger Zakheim, General Hayden, Ash Jain, and Michael Allen