Navy Leader Says Budget Issues Threaten Readiness
Navy News Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2013 The vice chief of naval operations told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the combined effects of a yearlong continuing resolution and across-the-board spending cuts mandated by a “sequestration” mechanism in budget law will reduce the Navy's ability to carry out its day-to-day mission around the globe.
"Simply stated, the combined effect of a yearlong continuing resolution and sequestration will reduce our Navy's overseas presence and adversely impact the material readiness and proficiency of our force, thus limiting the president's options in time of crisis," Navy Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III told the senators.
Because the Navy is currently operating under a continuing resolution for this fiscal year, leaders do not have the authority to initiate new programs or adjust funding for ongoing programs, the admiral said.
"We will be compelled to delay the start of construction of John F. Kennedy, CVN 79; the completion of America, LHA 6; as well as cancel procurement of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and hundreds of weapons,” Ferguson added. “Without congressional authority, the carrier Abraham Lincoln [CVN 72] must remain moored at Naval Station Norfolk [in Virginia] rather than start her overall, and we will not be able to complete the current overhaul of the USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71]."
Ferguson went on to explain how these "debilitating effects will be compounded by the devastation of sequestration, should it execute in its present form on March 1."
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told the Senate panel that while military personnel are exempt from sequestration cuts, there is a significant impact on the civilian force. Many Navy government civilian employees are at work at depots and shipyards fixing the Navy's equipment, and 44 percent are veterans, he said. Many of them could be furloughed up to 22 days, losing about a fifth of their paychecks by the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
"The immediate impact will be to our fleet operations and depot maintenance," Ferguson said. "We anticipate reducing flight operations and underway days for our deployed forces, cancelling deployments, … suspending most nondeployed operations such as training and certifications, along with other cost-cutting measures.
"We will immediately erode the readiness of the force,” he continued. “Over the long term, the discretionary budget caps under sequestration will fundamentally change our Navy. We will be compelled to reduce our force structure -- our end strength."
Ferguson pointed out that the fiscal impacts are not limited to operational concerns today.
"Like many Americans, our sailors, civilians and their families are experiencing increased anxiety as a result of this fiscal uncertainty -- such as the Truman Strike Group,” he said. “We must be mindful of the corrosive effect of this uncertainty on the morale of our people and be vigilant regarding the potential effects of sequestration on the propensity of our force to stay with us and of new recruits to join.
“Accordingly, we will make every effort to sustain family and sailor support programs," Ferguson added.