Transcript: Testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey on the impacts of sequestration

Transcript of testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the impacts of sequestration. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was held on Feb. 12, 2013.

Thanks, Mr. Chairman, Senator Inhofe, distinguished members. Thanks so much for holding this hearing on such an important readiness matter.

If sequestration occurs, it will severely limit our ability to implement our defense strategy. It will put the Nation at greater risk of coercion, and it will break faith with the men and women in uniform. We have and will continue to be part of the Nation’s economic recovery. We are committed to remaining responsible stewards of the Nation’s treasures as we work to build an affordable and unrivaled joint force for 2020.

To do this, we need budget certainty. That is, we need the antithesis of sequestration: a steady, predictable funding stream. We also need the time to implement reductions in a responsible manner over a manageable timeline.

And finally, we need the flexibility to transfer and reprogram money to our highest priorities. Readiness loses when major portions of the budget are untouchable. Everything needs to be on the table.

Personally I believe we should resist kicking this problem further down the road. Failing to act is a choice of itself, one that will eventually require a progressive contraction of security commitments around the world and a less proactive approach to protecting our interests.

When I testified before this committee last year, I said that if we fail to step off properly on this budget, we will reduce our options and, in so doing, increase our risk. Our military power will be less credible because it will be less sustainable. Now we are only a few days away from making that a reality.

We can do better. Our Nation, our servicemembers, and their families expect us to do better. More importantly, a turbulent world that relies on American leadership demands that we do better.

Thank you.


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