By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 10, 2013
I suspect that historians will come to look upon the month of March, 2013 as one of those moments in history when one can almost hear, to borrow an image from Winston Churchill, the grating of the "Hinge of Fate". This is the month in which decisions will be made of crucial importance for the fortunes of the Catholic Church and for those of our Republic. By the end of this month a new successor to St. Peter will in all likelihood have been chosen. Whoever is so chosen will be tasked with providing Christ's Church with guidance and inspiration in an environment that, politically and culturally, grows ever more hostile, almost by the day, to Catholic morals and faith. And with respect to the fortunes of our Republic it is these March days that will provide the decision as to whether our armed forces will or will not be able to carry out the missions with which they have been charged, missions related directly to our security and to that of our allies. The U.S. House of Representatives recently offered the president authorization that would allow greater flexibility in choosing precisely where the "Sequester's" cuts would fall, so that elements essential to our national defense would remain fully funded, with the cuts allocated to less important items in the budget. This proposed authorization was, however, rejected out of hand, which means that the "meat-axe" approach is now in favor, with its insane slashing of funding even for items critical to our defense. And under the terms of the "Sequester" (the plan that originated in the White House) the Defense Department will suffer HALF of the projected cuts, even though domestic expenditures account for 80 cents out of every dollar that the government spends, with defense expenditures accounting for only 20 cents. In this scenario our Department of Defense, whose budgeting for the next ten years has ALREADY BEEN CUT BY NEARLY HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS, WILL NOW HAVE ITS FUNDING SLASHED YET AGAIN BY ANOTHER HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS OR MORE. This in a world that is aswarm with newly emerging threats to our security. Consider China, emboldened in its perception of American indecision and empowered now by a military build-up that has been underway for many years and is steadily gaining momentum, with stealth submarines and supersonic surface-skimming missiles and sophisticated weaponry for the new frontier of cyber warfare, a form of warfare for which we are woefully unprepared. No surprise, then, that in the last year or so China has been throwing its weight around, taking provocative action against our allies in the western reaches of the Pacific, from Japan to the Philippines and beyond. Then think nuclear-armed North Korea, working hard to extend the range and precision of its intercontinental missiles. Think Pakistan as well, politically unstable and with a formidable arsenal of nuclear weapons whose custody is rather less than secure. And, worst of all, think jihadist Iran, now on the very threshold of acquiring "The Bomb". This is the same Iran that boasts of its hope to destroy "The Little Satan" (Israel) and "The Great Satan" (that's us). No wonder that our allies are beginning to wonder how much longer our government will possess either the will or the ability to defend its allies against serious aggression.
Small wonder, too, that in his final hours of service as Christ's Vicar on earth Pope Benedict urged the world's Catholics to commit themselves to serious penance and prayer, an appeal especially appropriate in this Lenten season. But in these times of increasing threat both to Christ's Church and to our Republic the need to commit to penance and prayer will not cease with the ending of Lent, not with the enemies of Christ's Church and the American Republic busily sharpening their knives.
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In illustration of what President Obama's "meat-axe" approach to reducing Defense Department funding will mean, may I commend to your thoughtful reflection the two reports herewith appended. The first was written by the retired former Commander of our Pacific Fleet (and subsequently Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations) Admiral James A. Lyons. The second was written by a veteran commentator on military matters, Rowan Scarborough.
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U.S. Faces Sequestration While China Prepares for War
Admiral James A. Lyons
The Washington Times, February 18, 2013
Our military services are ALREADY reeling from the PREVIOUSLY APPROVED $800 BILLION IN DEFENSE CUTS over the next decade. Now they are faced with $500 billion in ADDITIONAL budget cuts: if sequestration is implemented. As the Secretary of Defense [Leon Panetta] has stated, such draconian budget cuts will be DEVASTATING to the military services and our national security. We will have our SMALLEST ARMY SINCE BEFORE WORLD WAR II, and we most likely will be left with the SMALLEST NAVY SINCE BEFORE WORLD WAR I. Similar adverse impact will be felt by the Air Force.
The argument that we don't need as many forces today since they are so much more effective than previous ones just doesn't cut it. The world has not shrunk. A ship can only be in one place at a time. We are being challenged globally.
Under the continuing resolution budget authority that the military is now operating under, the Navy will have to CANCEL availability for modernization or maintenance for more than 20 ships. It will also have to CANCEL aircraft maintenance at major facilities, DELAY new research and development projects, and CANCEL the new construction of a DDG-51 ANTI- BALLISTIC MISSILE DESTROYER. Other deferrals involve a range of new projects, including aircraft procurement.
If sequestration is implemented, $50 billion will have to be taken out of the military budget by September 30, the end of the fiscal year. According to Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, this means "in effect a doubling of the impact of sequestration, effectively IMPOSING AN AVERAGE 20 PERCENT CUT ON EVERY PROGRAM. For the Navy, this will require reduced flying hours on our carriers deployed to the Middle East by more than 50 percent and cutting ship operating days by almost 25 percent. Western Pacific deployments will have to be reduced by a third. Nondeployed Pacific fleet ships will have their operating days reduced by 40 percent. Several ship deployments will have to be canceled. A host of other actions will be required, including EXTENDING THE DEPLOYMENTS INDEFINITELY. All of these actions affect our readiness, WHICH WILL COST MUCH MORE TO RESTORE! So much for the "pivot to Asia."
As our leadership in Washington continues to ignore the consequences should sequestration budget cuts be implemented, they need to reflect on the impact to our national security. For example, in China, one of the first directives given by the new Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping to vice chairman of the Military Commission Gen. Fan Changlong was "TO PREPARE FOR WAR." While such statements are not new for incoming party chiefs, it cannot be casually dismissed in view of China's massive military build-up over the last decade with no known threats. While China's leadership continues to profess peace and stability, their illegitimate claims in the South and East China Seas send a more provocative message. Therefore it is questionable that the directive "to prepare for war" can be put in the same context as President Reagan's "peace through strength." Aside from China's massive conventional force modernization program, China continues to modernize its strategic NUCLEAR weapons infrastructure. It has MORE THAN 3,000 MILES OF UNDERGROUND REINFORCED TUNNELS. They have not only fixed but mobile strategic systems for these underground sites. In addition, they have developed strategic ballistic missile submarines operating out of underground submarine pens on Hanan Island. China may well have significantly more strategic weapons than the 300 the intelligence community estimates. Compounding the problem, [thanks to the sequestration] the MODERNIZATION OF OUR STRATEGIC NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE will most likely be in JEOPARDY.
Even though China's leadership continues to profess that their military modernization programs are for defensive purposes only, where is the threat? Their anti-access, anti-denial doctrine and their anti-ship ballistic missile capability-all of which is targeted against U.S. naval forces-sends a different message. Their demonstrated anti-satellite capability along with their cyberwarfare capability must also be addressed. Further, their client state, North Korea, with a proven nuclear weapons capability and continued unpredictable behavior, is another factor that must be considered.
The Middle East continues in a state of turmoil.
The outcome of the Arab Spring is in a state of flux. Libya appears to be a failed state, and eastern Libya is under the control of al Qaeda-affiliated militias. Egypt under the totalitarian control of its Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi is far from the democracy many hoped it would be. Syria is in a state of civil war.
All of the turmoil in the Middle East, however, PALES in comparison to a NUCLEAR IRAN, which continues to ignore all United Nations sanctions and has shown no willingness to negotiate seriously over its nuclear weapons program. Further, we can no longer continue to ignore IRAN'S MISSILE SITES IN VENEZUELA which, according to former ambassador Roger Noriega, are now OPERATIONAL and have the capability to strike a number of our southern cities. Under the Monroe Doctrine, they must be removed now.
Sequestration SENDS ALL THE WIRONG SIGNALS to our potential enemies by placing our national security in jeopardy. Now is the time for President Obama and Congress to show the necessary leadership and put national security above party politics.
Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
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Military Warns Cuts from Sequester Would Deplete Force, Stirring Memories of 1970's
The Washington Times, February 18, 2013
The U.S. armed services, widely recognized as the world's most ready and mobile military, is painting a picture of itself as a stagnant force trapped at home under automatic spending cuts just three weeks away.
Army brigades won't be ready to fight. Navy aircraft carriers won't be deployed. The Air Force won't be able to operate radar surveillance 24 hours a day.
The dire scenarios are contained in a series of memos sent to Congress and obtained by The Washington Times. They stir memories of the late 1970s, when the Army declared itself a "hollow force" because depleted combat units could not perform in a war.
In the current instance, an Army memo uses the physiological term "ATROPHY" to underscore a warning that it will not be able to command brigade combat teams that can respond to hot spots outside of Afghanistan and South Korea.
"The strategic impact is a rapid atrophy of unit combat skills with a failure to meet demands of the National Military Strategy by the end of this year," the Army wrote in a recent memo to Capitol Hill.
In testimony Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Raymond Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, declared, "The fiscal outlook which the U.S. Army faces in fiscal year 2013 is DIRE and, to my knowledge, UNPRECEDENTED."
He said no budget deal means the Army CUTS BACK TRAINING for 80 percent of its ground forces. "This will impact our units' basic war-fighting SKILLS and induce SHORTFALLS ACROSS CRITICAL SPECIALTIES, including aviation, intelligence, engineering and even our ability to recruit soldiers into our Army," he said.
The Pentagon's warnings are intended to prod Congress and President Obama to reach a deal that averts "sequestration" - automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin March 1 that would remove up to $500 billion from the projected 10-year defense budget.
The debate moves to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, when the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify in person on what their memos predict.
The Pentagon ALREADY has cut more than $480 billion from its 10-year budget and is operating under a continuing resolution that holds spending at 2012 levels. Under sequestration, the Pentagon would have to cut an ADDITIONAL $42 billion by Sept. 30 and as much as $500 billion over the next 10 years.
If sequestration were to occur briefly before politicians finally reach a deal that kills it, the damage to military training and forces would be minimal. But if it were to REMAIN in place for several years, the smaller military budgets would squeeze out ships, planes and troops.
"What it would mean is a smaller military," said Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. "It would be a military that would NOT be able to do all the missions it is supposed to be able to do today. That's the bottom line."
Perhaps the Air Force's quick review of a sequestered budget is the scariest. In its "Sequestration Implementation Plan," the Air Force notes A LACK OF TRAINED employees TO MANAGE "THE NUCLEAR ENTERPRISE," referring to its arsenal of atomic missiles and bombs.
To meet a nearly $14 billion shortfall this year, the Air Force would reduce worldwide military communications, stop testing some weapons and cut flying hours, which would produce a less-ready fighter and bomber fleet.
"Mitigating [overseas operations] shortfall and sequestration will have drastic/long lasting impacts," the Air Force states.
General Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of Staff, said sequestration is hitting just as WORN-OUT combat and support aircraft are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The Air Force is long overdue for reconstitution following two decades of war," testified General Welsh, who was born in 1953. "Our inventory still includes aircraft that are as old as I am, and our force is as small as it's ever been since becoming a separate service."
Said Mr. Harrison: "It means a smaller force all around. Some possible contingencies have to take on more risks. They won't be able to respond as quickly or with as many forces if the military has to get smaller."
The Navy is not using only briefing papers to drive home the point.
Last week, it announced the postponement of the $3.3 billion overhaul and refueling of the nuclear-powered carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. The news came a few days after the Navy had sent another alarming signal, saying the carrier USS Harry S. Truman strike group would NOT sail to the Middle East this month as previously scheduled.
Admiral Mark Ferguson, the Navy's vice chief of naval operations, disclosed to the committee a new problem. Not only won't the Navy start overhauling the Lincoln; it will not have the money to finish the moored carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
If sequestration lingers year in year out, Admiral Ferguson testified, "Over the long term, the discretionary budget caps under sequestration will FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE our Navy. We'll be compelled to reduce our force structure, our end strength and investments as we lower funding levels in the altered landscape of our industrial base."
Defense analysts ask what kind of message does that send to Iran, which the U.S. and Europe suspect is in quest of nuclear weapons.
"Long before the FULL impact of sequestration is felt, the HOLLOWING OUT of the U.S. military is ALREADY under way," said defense analyst Frank Gaffney, a senior defense official in President Reagan's administration and now president of the Center for Security Policy, a national security and defense policy organization. "It will prove DEVASTATING to the security of the United States by emboldening our enemies, undermining our friends and allies, and eviscerating our ability to deter and defeat the former and to join forces with the latter in defense of freedom."
Keeping the USS Truman at home was predicted in a memo to all fleet admirals last month from Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations.
If sequestration hits, the memo said, the only way to meet the roughly 9 percent shrinkage in this year's spending would be to stop training and exercises for units not scheduled to deploy and REDUCE NAVAL PRESENCE OVERSEAS - a reality that already has occurred with the Truman's postponement.
"Once we SHUT DOWN our sustainment training, it will take our ships and squadrons ABOUT NINE MONTHS to conduct the maintenance and training needed TO BE CERTIFIED TO DEPLOY AGAIN," Adm. Greenert said....
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