Sequestration could “significantly degrade” the Department of Defense’s overall readiness for years to come, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey on Friday in Bahrain.
“It will have an effect, and I think it’ll be an effect felt for two or three years,” Dempsey said in response to a sailor’s question while speaking to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “There are some who think we can just let it happen, and then sweep it up over the next six months.”
Dempsey said he and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requested military manpower be exempt from the additional proposed budget reductions.
“We went to President Obama and asked him to use his authority to exempt manpower,” Dempsey said. “If we hadn’t done that, in an almost inconceivable way, we would have had to cut the end strength by eight percent as part of the package.”
The president approved the exemption, he said, but the “bad news is it puts a bigger burden on the other accounts,” which include operations, maintenance, training and infrastructure.
“So those will now be impacted at about a 10 percent blow across the board,” Dempsey said. “What does this mean to your particular community? I can’t say for sure because the CNO — chief of naval operations — is the one who has to figure that out.”
The Joint Strike Fighter is among defense projects that would be disrupted by sequestration, Dempsey said, adding that civilian DOD employees would likely also feel the impact.
“There could be some civilian employees placed on unpaid furloughs,” the chairman said. “So it’s really serious.”