Washington: The outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pulled no punches during his last week on the job, saying today that the across-the-board defense cuts under the so-called “doomsday” scenario will break the military.
For the first time, Adm. Mike Mullen said this afternoon that if the Super Committee set up by the White House is forced to cut any more from national security coffers, the military simply would not survive.
“If you took a trillion dollars out of defense right now, that would break us,” Mullen said during a speech to defense industry leaders in Washington today. So far, the Obama administration has committed to cuts of $450 billion over the next 10 years, including $315 billion mandated by the Budget Control Act that Congress passed in July to avert a national default. Add the $500 billion that would be automatically cut should the Super Committee fail to come up with a plan to cut $1.2 trillion and you get close to $1 trillion.
Mullen and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed their concern about deeper cuts to defense spending to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today.
Widespread reductions beyond the $450 billion already committed to by the Obama administration over the next decade would cause “catastrophic damage to military and ability to protect this country,” Panetta told the panel.
At the morning hearing, Mullen was more subdued in his remarks, noting the threat of going past $315 billion “has forced us to look into the abyss” in terms of what could happen if the doomsday scenario did happen.
Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Budget and Management, echoed that same sentiment in a Sept. 15 letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon.
In the letter, Lew said that if defense funding is cut further, the department “would almost certainly be forced to furlough large numbers of its civilian workers, training would have to be curtailed, the force reduced and purchases of weapons would have to be cut dramatically.”
And with a Pentagon trying to rebuild from over 10 years of constant combat, those types of reductions will almost certainly shatter the force, Mullen reiterated during his speech today.
Lawmakers have until this October to submit their recommendations for national security spending cuts to the Super Committee. The bipartisan congressional panel will then have to come up with nearly $1.2 trillion in savings across the government, including DoD.