National Security Leaders Urge Congress to "Stop Defense Sequestration Now"

February 19, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventy-three former U.S. government officials, retired U.S. military leaders, and national security experts signed an open letter to Congress, urging House and Senate leadership to work together to "stop sequestration now."

In the letter, the group warned:  "Sequestration will result in unacceptable risk for U.S. national security. It will degrade our ability to defend our allies, deter aggression, and promote and protect American economic interests. It will erode the credibility of our treaty commitments abroad. It will be a self-inflicted wound to American strength and leadership in the world."

The full text of the letter follows, and additional former officials and experts continue to sign onto it.  The letter was prepared by the Foreign Policy Initiative, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.


February 2013

The Honorable John Boehner                                     The Honorable Harry Reid
Speaker of the                                                             Majority Leader
House of Representatives                                           United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515                                             Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                      The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Democratic Leader                                                      Republican Leader
House of Representatives                                           United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515                                             Washington, D.C. 20510    
 
Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Pelosi:
 
As the March 1st deadline nears for unprecedented, across-the-board cuts to our military, we write to urge you to work together to avoid this unnecessary and dangerous blow to American power and global leadership.  You have each expressed your opposition to allowing these cuts to go into effect.  They will go into effect without congressional action.  You are the leaders of Congress.  We ask that you act as leaders to stop sequestration now.

In recent days, the Defense Department leadership has developed its plans for operating under sequestration.  The details that have been released thus far are chilling:

  • The Navy has indefinitely delayed the deployment of a carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf—a decision that significantly weakens America’s ability to provide regional security and protection to allies at a time when the Iranian regime continues its work to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
  • The Air Force plans to cut the flying hours of its pilots by 18 percent, and more broadly will have to curtail the service’s ability to conduct air-to-air refueling, support Army logistical requirements and, by September of this year, train new pilots—reductions that cumulatively will erode America’s vitally important airpower capabilities.
  • The Army will delay training for almost 80 percent of its Brigade Combat Teams, cancel critical maintenance, and stop training new aviators and military intelligence specialists—delays that, according to the service’s leaders, will result in the “rapid atrophy of unit combat skills with a failure to meet demands of the National Military Strategy by the end of the year.”

These cuts are only the tip of the iceberg.  As outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned, sequestration will yield the “smallest ground forces since 1940,” “a fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915,” and the “smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.”

Sequestration will result in unacceptable risk for U.S. national security.  It will degrade our ability to defend our allies, deter aggression, and promote and protect American economic interests.  It will erode the credibility of our treaty commitments abroad. It will be a self-inflicted wound to American strength and leadership in the world.
 
History will not look kindly on this abdication of responsibility, but will hold accountable the President and the Congress who together chose such a dangerous course.

Sincerely,

 Elliott AbramsDr. Andrew F. Krepinevich
 Dr. Michael AuslinDr. William Kristol
 Max BootSenator Joseph I. Lieberman
 Ambassador L. Paul BremerGEN James J. Lindsay, USA, Ret.
 ADM James B. Busey, USN, Ret.Mary Beth Long
 Dr. Eliot A. CohenGen William R. Looney, USAF, Ret.
 Senator Norm ColemanADM James Aloysius “Ace” Lyons, USN, Ret.
 Gen James T. Conway, USMC, Ret.Gen Robert Magnus, USMC, Ret.
 Seth CropseyDr. Thomas G. Mahnken
 Thomas DonnellyDr. Michael Makovsky
 Mackenzie EaglenADM Henry H. Mauz, Jr., USN, Ret.
 Ambassador Eric S. EdelmanRobert C. McFarlane
 Douglas J. FeithDr. Joshua Muravchik
 Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, USN, Ret.Dr. John Nagl
 Gen Ronald Robert Fogleman, USAF, Ret.Gen Robert C. Oaks, USAF, Ret.
 Frank J. GaffneyDr. Michael O’Hanlon
 Dr. Robert M. GatesDanielle Pletka
 Christopher J. GriffinStephen G. Rademaker
 Stephen J. HadleyRandy Scheunemann
 Dr. John J. HamreDr. Gary J. Schmitt 
 John HannahRandall G. Schriver
 Congresswoman Jane HarmanDan Senor
 ADM Ronald J. Hays, USN, Ret.Vance Serchuk
 ADM Thomas B. Hayward, USN, Ret.GEN Henry Hugh Shelton, USA, Ret.
 Dr. William InbodenADM Leighton "Snuffy" Smith, USN, Ret.
 Bruce Pitcairn JacksonSenator James Talent 
 ADM Jerry Johnson, USN, Ret.Dr. Ashley J. Tellis
 Ambassador Robert G. JosephWilliam H. Tobey
 Dr. Frederick W. KaganDr. Daniel Twining
 Dr. Kimberly KaganDr. Kenneth R. Weinstein
 Dr. Robert KaganAmbassador Richard Williamson
 ADM Timothy J. Keating, USN, Ret.Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz
 Gen P.X. Kelley, USMC, Ret.Ambassador R. James Woolsey
 ADM Robert J. Kelly, USN, Ret.Gen Ronald W. Yates, USAF, Ret.
 GEN Buck Kernan, USA, Ret.Dr. Dov S. Zakheim
 Ambassador Zalmay KhalilzadRobert Zarate
 Gen William L. Kirk, USAF, Ret. 

 

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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