Defense Policy Journal – Commentary: The Sequester is Hurting our Readiness

September 28, 2013

Since March 1 of this year our country has been living under “sequestration.” These across-the-board, nonsensical budget cuts are harming our military, hurting our ability to maintain international supremacy in scientific research, and cutting necessary investments in childhood education and nutrition. It is time they ended. The cuts aren’t mission-driven and they put our national security at risk.

In San Diego, which I represent, the military presence defines our city’s culture and ethos. My Congressional district is home to seven military installations, including the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Further, military contracting companies, employing tens of thousands of San Diegans, are a central industry in the region. Sequester cuts hurt all of them.

In a recent economic impact study by the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), the sequester and constant stop and start of multiple continuing resolutions has “resulted in a disruptive and unpredictable budget cycle for the Department of Defense (DoD), and introduced great uncertainty into DoD spending in the San Diego region.” That hurts not only the military but local support businesses and military families who deserve as much stability and forethought as we can provide to them.

Given the changing global security and economic focus toward the Pacific Rim, San Diego is exactly where the military should be making long-term investments in our national security infrastructure. As a hub for innovative technology companies that are on the front line of unmanned warfare systems and a shipbuilding hub constructing the next generation of vessels for our increasingly mobile military, San Diego should be seeing increased attention, not spending levels that barely keep up with inflation.

There are nearly 140,000 active duty, civilian, and reserve personnel in San Diego. For civilian contractors, who saw six furlough days this year, sequester means a 2.5% cut to their annual salary. For base commanders, sequester forces them to spend time deciding if they should delay projects, cancel contracts, or leave staff positions unfilled. This allows them less time to focus on the strategic planning necessary to keep America safe.

With the continuously changing international security situation, it is the responsibility of Congress to do our very best to protect the American people by giving military leaders the tools they need. Sequester undercuts that promise. It is time to end it and achieve a reasonable budget solution.

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