House Armed Services Committee discusses DoD budget cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) — Both the House and Senate budget committees already voted on a two-year budget that was signed by the President in December. So Chairman Buck McKeon said Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing was more about forward planning.

Aside from his clear disdain of what he calls a dangerous trajectory for our nation’s military capabilities, Chairman McKeon made one thing clear Wednesday.

“I’m not pointing fingers at you,” McKeon said. “We’re the ones that voted for these cuts, some of us. Unfortunately, the largest threat to our naval forces is one of our own making. Defense cuts continue to have a debilitating affect. This is a fundamental, piecemealed, dismantling of the world’s greatest Navy.”

With the types of problems more budget cuts could cause in Hampton Roads, congressmen Randy Forbes, Rob Wittman and Scott Rigell have all made it clear that defending our needs is one of their top priorities.

Overnight, WAVY.com found Rigell’s key problems with the 2015 budget on a link from his twitter page. He said, “I reject the premise that we can reconcile our deficits with reforms that are made on the backs of those expected to accept the greatest risk in defense of our freedom.”

And senior military leaders sounded the alarm.

“Today we are challenged by fiscal uncertainty that threatens both our capacity and capability, forcing us to sacrifice long-term health for near-term readiness,” said Gen. Jim Amos.

“We still face shortfalls in support ashore and a backlog in facilities maintenance that erode the ability of our bases to support the fleet,” said Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

“Our people are our greatest advantage, and we must ensure that they continue to get the tools they need to do their jobs,” said Secretary Ray Mabus.

The issue of Sequestration in 2016 also came to the forefront of Wednesday’s hearing and received a sharp response. If current law stands, the Department of Defense will get $115 billion less than it believes it needs to meet strategic requirements. All services stand to be hit by the cuts, but here’s one example: the 2015 budget only funds a 283-ship Navy and the Navy’s requirement is 306.

Also discussed at the hearing was the decommissioning of the USS George Washington, which experts say should have had 25 more years of life.

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