Defense Secretary Robert Gates is calling the lack of a spending bill and idea of a year-long continuing resolution to fund defense the “crisis on my doorstep.”
If the defense funding legislation is not passed by Congress by March 4, the proposed continuing resolution will be $526 billion, which is $23 billion less than the DoD’s request of $549 billion. This would represent “the worst of all possible kinds of reductions” since it comes halfway through the fiscal year, Gates told reporters. To offset this lack of funding, the DoD would most likely use operations and maintenance accounts, as well as stretch programs and make cuts in training and readiness, Gates said.
“Frankly that’s how you hollow out a military, even in wartime,” Gates said. “It means fewer flying hours, fewer steaming days, cuts in training for home-stationed ground forces, cuts in maintenance, and so on.”
War funding will not be affected and the Defense Department will receive $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this fiscal year. This funding will drop to $120 billion in fiscal 2012, which begins Oct. 1. Gates said the forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan probably will be protected from the more severe cuts, but forces in other areas of the world will be affected.
Gates called the decisions of members of Congress who have been resisting cuts to defense in fiscal 2012 “rhetoric” when there’s been no action on the fiscal 2011 bill. The training under the proposed continuing resolution would affect combat readiness issues that some lawmakers and service chiefs have been concerned about, Gates said.
If Congress doesn’t pass the funding bill by March 4, Gates said, “this new Congress would be responsible for a cut that’s nearly twice the size of our fiscal ’12 proposal, and much, much more damaging.”