The sequestration crisis that hits in March is the first budgetary “wolf” that menaces national defense, according to Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Speaking to a packed house at the morning keynote address at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, Adm. Winnefeld declared that, “It is becoming increasingly apparent that this wolf is going to catch us,” and he warned that the military will have to “jettison some cargo” to ward off the wolf.
Adm. Winnefeld warned that two unpleasant choices confront defense planners. Either the military will be forced to become smaller through politically driven choices, or it will not be allowed to become smaller—in which case, readiness will suffer to the point of having a hollow force.
If readiness cuts occur, they cannot be spread “like peanut butter.” Some forces still are engaged in overseas operations, so other forces will have to bear cuts disproportionately. For example, the U.S. Army may lose 30 percent of its brigade combat team capabilities. Ultimately, the U.S. military may be so weakened that some day it may be asked to respond to a crisis, and it may have to say that it cannot.
“The clock is already running this year, and we want to minimize the damage already done,” the vice chairman said.