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Navy, Marine Corps Leadership Warn About Sequester

Compliments of:

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

With members of Congress continuing to express concern about the impact of sequestration on the military, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a congressional panel today that the Navy and Marine Corps will be able to meet their current and future missions only with proper resourcing.

“The department’s ability to meet the demands of today’s operations in support of our defense strategic guidance depends on anticipating and preparing for the changing geopolitical landscape and having the proper resources ready to deploy,” Mabus told the House Armed Services Committee in prepared testimony. “The department will continue to maintain the capabilities required to ensure that the Navy and Marine Corps is the finest expeditionary force in the world; however, proper resourcing is needed to maintain our capacity for global operations.”

In light of a budget-driven, Pentagon-wide review of strategic priorities, he added, “everything will be on the table.”

Mabus testified alongside Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations, and Gen. James. F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. All three leaders spoke of shortfalls and having to do more with less in the coming years if the hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts triggered by last month’s budget sequester remain.

“We do it to the very best we possibly can,” Amos said, but he suggested that at some point, such cuts could undercut the rationale for having the Marine Corps, which is on a path to shrink from just over 202,000 Marines to 182,100.

“The Marine Corps remains the nation’s ready hedge against unpredictable crisis, an insurance policy that buys time when hours matter,” Amos said. He cited yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and the ongoing uncertainty over North Korea’s intentions to illustrate how an unpredictable and chaotic security environment demonstrates that “the need for this highly capable and ready force is more pressing now than ever.”

Aware of the nation’s fiscal restraints, Amos said, the Corps will make hard decisions about what it needs. But he added that “with declining resources to address the emerging security challenges, neo-isolationism does not advance our nation’s national interest.”

Greenert said shortfalls this fiscal year alone, while mitigated by congressional action last month, will be compounded if sequestration continues, leading to a $23 billion shortfall in 2014. The situation already has led the Navy to recommend cancelling one ship deployment to the Pacific, two to Europe and all but one to the U.S Southern Command region.

“Overall, due to reduced training and maintenance, about two-thirds of the fleet will be less than fully mission capable and not certified for major combat operations,” he said, emphasizing that this state of readiness does not apply to Navy forces and assets supporting operations in Afghanistan. In addition, he said, discussion continues about the number of furlough days Navy civilians may be required to take between now and the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year.

Other issues not directly related to funding, but which remain among his top concerns, Greenert said, include:

— A smaller fleet operating at a high tempo;

— Shortfalls in at-sea manning;

— Sexual assault, which he said affects about two sailors every day; and

— Rising suicide rates.

The Navy has implemented a comprehensive strategy for countering sexual assault, the admiral noted, and has stood up a task force to prevent suicides.

The hearing follows President Barack Obama’s submission last week of a $526.6 billion defense budget request for fiscal year 2014, one largely consistent with the previous year’s, but delivered amid a budget landscape that envisions $500 billion in additional defense cuts over the next 10 years if there is no change in current law.

If Congress does not act to change that, Amos warned, the Marine Corps will have to undergo “a top-to-bottom re-examination of priorities, missions and what it will take to continue to be the nation’s expeditionary force in readiness.”

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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