Transcript: GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry says civilian attrition is a good way to save money at the Pentagon

Transcribed & edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of remarks by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on sequestration at a press briefing on Feb. 6, 2013:

Reducing civilians by attrition is a good idea even at DOD. And I’d just remind you that yesterday the recently departed Under-Secretary for Policy, Michele Flournoy, argued in the Washington Post that we needed to reduce civilians at DOD as a way of improving efficiency within the Pentagon. I’d say that applies to all the other agencies as well.

Secondly, most of the concern about sequestration is focused on readiness and training, which is absolutely true. If you talk to the lawyers that work at defense contractors, they think they’re going to have a field day, and we even had testimony last year in the House Armed Services Committee that the legal hassles emanating from sequestration may eat up a lot of the savings.

But beyond that, as Sen. [Kelly] Ayotte and Lindsey [Graham] referenced, there’s a lot of dangerous places in the world. And what we do is try to develop capability to deal with the unknowable contingencies of what could happen at a place like Syria or Iran or North Korea. With less money, you can prepare for fewer contingencies.

And so the point is it’s not just readiness. It’s not just lawyers pocketing fees, this also hurts us in the real world today.

Final point is there’s a lot of options to deal with this. As was mentioned, the House passed bills twice last year to substitute sequestration’s savings for other more targeted savings so that you’d save the same amount of money that’s still fiscally responsible but you don’t gut defense and the domestic programs as well.

Today, we have another proposal that’s out there on the table. I suspect there may be another one or two in the next few days.

Anybody who’s been around Washington in the past two months knows that if any one of us comes and says the answer to this is taxes, they haven’t been living in the real world after what we’ve all just been through for the last two months.

It’s time to be more serious about this, to get off the campaign trail, and to be a commander-in-chief.

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3 Comments on “Transcript: GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry says civilian attrition is a good way to save money at the Pentagon

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