WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2015 – Unless Congress changes the Budget Control Act, which now requires a return to sequestration-level spending cuts in 2016, the military will need to change its strategy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview broadcast today.
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the Army is drawing down from 570,000 soldiers to 450,000, but he noted that a Pentagon analysis shows sequestration would drive that number to 420,000, and even lower under some circumstances.
“Under those circumstances of sequestration in the Budget Control Act, we would, in fact, have to change our strategy, and we would be far less able to maintain the kind of global presence and the kind of stability we bring to our allies,” the general said.
Options Shrink With Sequestration
As it now stands, the chairman said, the Budget Control Act limits the options the military can provide to elected leaders against any given challenge. “We provide options,” he added. “Those options really begin to shrink dramatically [under the act],” he added.
Sequestration would leave the military “far less able to do the things that we think the country needs us to do,” Dempsey said.
Meanwhile, he United States continues to face threats from both state actors and nonstate actors, the chairman said.
The nexus of those two “make this period in our history so incredibly complex and so incredibly dangerous,” Dempsey said. State actors, he explained, carry the risk of miscalculation and being pulled into an escalating conflict.
“With non-state actors, it’s kind of a persistent threat,” the chairman said. “We know for a fact that there are nonstate radical, violent extremist organizations who today, and for the next generation, will be plotting against Western interests, to include the United States. So we’ve had to do is adapt our military to address both of those challenges.”
Still the Most Powerful Nation in the World
Though he’s concerned about that, Dempsey said, the United States still is the most powerful nation in the world, by any measure, and is likely to remain so – “unless we — unless we talk ourselves out of it and legislate ourselves out of it with things like the Budget Control Act.”
“What will get us through this is investing in our human capital,” the chairman said, “because we’re going to have to think our way through the future, not bludgeon our way through it.”