National Security Leaders Urge Congress to Increase Defense Spending

February 24, 2015

Media Contact
Elaine Wilson, Director of External Relations and Government Affairs
ewilson@foreignpolicyi.org

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.

Sincerely,

 Elliott AbramsBruce Pitcairn Jackson
 Dr. David AdesnikAsh Jain
 Michael AllenAmbassador Robert G. Joseph
 Dr. Michael AuslinDr. Frederick W. Kagan
 Gary BauerDr. Kimberly Kagan
 Senator Evan BayhDr. Robert Kagan
 Ilan BermanADM Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.)
 Dan BlumenthalCraig Kennedy
 Ambassador John R. BoltonAmbassador Zalmay Khalilzad
 Max BootDr. William Kristol
 Ambassador L. Paul BremerDr. Matthew Kroenig
 Shawn BrimleyCongressman Melvin Laird
 Dr. Kurt M. CampbellDr. Paul Lettow
 Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC (Ret.)Dr. Robert J. Lieber
 Dr. Eliot A. CohenSenator Joseph I. Lieberman
 Senator Norm ColemanTod Lindberg
 Seth CropseyMary Beth Long
 Jack DavidDr. Thomas G. Mahnken
 Dr. Janine DavidsonDr. Michael Makovsky
 James S. DentonLTG Michael D. Maples, USA (Ret.)
 Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret.)Congressman Jim Marshall
 Ambassador Paula J. DobrianskyClifford D. May
 Thomas DonnellyRobert C. McFarlane
 Mark DubowitzDr. Joshua Muravchik
 Dr. Colin DueckAmbassador John Negroponte
 Mackenzie EaglenRobert C. O'Brien
 Ambassador Eric S. EdelmanDr. Michael O'Hanlon
 Douglas J. FeithGovernor Tim Pawlenty
 Julie FinleyDanielle Pletka
 Michèle FlournoyStephen G. Rademaker
 Richard FontaineDr. Michael Rubin
 David FrumDaniel F. Runde
 Dr. Robert M. GatesRandy Scheunemann
 Dr. Jeffrey GedminDr. Gary J. Schmitt
 Reuel Marc GerechtDan Senor
 Christopher J. GriffinVance Serchuk
 Stephen J. HadleyAmbassador Kristen Silverberg
 John P. HannahSenator Jim Talent
 Gen Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.)Dr. Daniel Twining
 Dr. Kathleen HicksDr. Kenneth R. Weinstein
 Brian HookDr. Dov S. Zakheim
 Peter R. HuessyRoger Zakheim
 Dr. William C. Inboden 

 

Mission Statement

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.
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