Today, the Department of Defense released a report that documents the damaging cuts to military forces, modernization, and readiness that will be required if defense budgets are held at sequester-levels in the years beyond fiscal 2015. This report fulfills a commitment made by Secretary Hagel to provide details on the effects of these undesirable budget cuts.
As the report says, sequester level budgets would result in continued force-level cuts across the military services. The Army would be reduced to 420,000 active duty soldiers along with 315,000 in the Guard and 185,000 in the Reserve. The Marine Corps would drop to 175,000 active duty personnel. The Air Force would have to eliminate its entire fleet of KC-10 tankers and shrink its inventory of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Navy would be forced to mothball 6 destroyers and retire an aircraft carrier and its associated air wing, reducing the carrier fleet to ten.
Modernization would also be significantly slowed. Compared to plans under the fiscal 2015 budget, the department would buy eight fewer ships in the years beyond fiscal 2016-- including one fewer Virginia-class submarines and three fewer DDG-51 destroyers – and would delay delivery of the new carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) by two years. The services would acquire 17 fewer Joint Strike Fighters, five fewer KC-46 tankers, and six fewer P-8A aircraft.
There would also be sharp cutbacks in many smaller weapons programs and in funding for military construction. In addition, the department would invest about $66 billion less in procurement and research funding compared with levels planned in the fiscal 2015 budget.
The report notes that sequester-level budgets would worsen already existing readiness shortfalls across the force and delay needed training to prepare the joint force for full-spectrum operations.
Overall, sequester-level cuts would result in a military that is too small to fully meet the requirements of our strategy, thereby significantly increasing national security risks both in the short- and long-term. As Secretary Hagel has said, under sequester-level budgets, we would be gambling that our military will not be required to respond to multiple major contingencies at the same time.
The full report is posted here: http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Estimated_Impacts_of_Sequestration-Level_Funding_April.pdf