National Security Leaders Urge Congress to Increase Defense Spending
Elaine Wilson, Director of External Relations and Government Affairs
Washington, D.C. – Eighty-five former U.S. government officials, retired U.S. military leaders, and national security experts today sent an open letter urging House and Senate leadership to work together to end the needless harm that the Budget Control Act and sequestration are inflicting on our Armed Forces.
In the letter, the group wrote:
- “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.”
- “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 group includes former Secretaries of Defense Melvin Laird and Robert M. Gates, National Defense Panel members General James Cartwright, Ambassador Eric Edelman, Michele Flournoy, General Michael Maples, Congressman Jim Marshall, and Senator Jim Talent, and former Senators Evan Bayh, Norm Coleman, and Joseph I. Lieberman, and Governor Tim Pawlenty.
The full text of the letter follows. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.
February 24, 2015
Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, Senator Reid, and Representative Pelosi:
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.
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.
|Elliott Abrams||Bruce Pitcairn Jackson|
|Dr. David Adesnik||Ash Jain|
|Michael Allen||Ambassador Robert G. Joseph|
|Dr. Michael Auslin||Dr. Frederick W. Kagan|
|Gary Bauer||Dr. Kimberly Kagan|
|Senator Evan Bayh||Dr. Robert Kagan|
|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||Robert C. O'Brien|
|Ambassador Eric S. Edelman||Dr. Michael O'Hanlon|
|Douglas J. Feith||Governor Tim Pawlenty|
|Julie Finley||Danielle Pletka|
|Michèle Flournoy||Stephen G. Rademaker|
|Richard Fontaine||Dr. Michael Rubin|
|David Frum||Daniel F. Runde|
|Dr. Robert M. Gates||Randy Scheunemann|
|Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin||Dr. Gary J. Schmitt|
|Reuel Marc Gerecht||Dan Senor|
|Christopher J. Griffin||Vance Serchuk|
|Stephen J. Hadley||Ambassador Kristen Silverberg|
|John P. Hannah||Senator Jim Talent|
|Gen Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.)||Dr. Daniel Twining|
|Dr. Kathleen Hicks||Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein|
|Brian Hook||Dr. Dov S. Zakheim|
|Peter R. Huessy||Roger Zakheim|
|Dr. William C. Inboden|
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.