‘Worst Possible Outcome’ Prevented,
But DoD Still Faces Catastrophic Cuts
The Department of Defense (DoD) dodged a bullet when Congress agreed to put off looming, across-the-board cuts to the military’s budget by two months,
but deep partisan divides on Capitol Hill could make
those feared budget reductions a reality come March 1.
As part of the New Year’s deal on the so-called fiscal
cliff, lawmakers agreed to delay the sequester, essentially buying Congress and the White House some time
to hash out a more palatable deficit-reduction agreement than the indiscriminate cuts that will target the
government’s discretionary budget if the two parties
cannot reach a compromise.
Along with the delay, lawmakers agreed to bring the
total price for sequester in 2013 from nearly $63 billion to about $48 billion for the DoD, according to
some budget analysts.
Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale on Jan. 8 estimated the department’s share at $45 billion, but
stressed that his calculations were extremely rough
due to the complexity of the deal on the fiscal cliff.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, put the total at $52 billion during a Jan.
10 briefing at the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin
E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discuss
the effects of sequestration if it were to take effect at the
end of March during a briefing at the Pentagon Jan. 10.
The price was lowered to reflect
the fact that the department would
have only seven months to implement the sequester before Sept. 30
— the end of the fiscal year — rather
than the nine months it would have
had had the cuts gone into effect Jan.
2, as originally planned.
For the department, however,
the effect remains nearly the same.
All department accounts — aside
from military personnel, which is
exempt from sequester — would
be cut by roughly 8. 8 percent.
That would mean one-month fur-
loughs for nearly all of the depart-
ment’s roughly 800,000 personnel to
make up for the budgetary shortfall.
Purchases of some weapons systems
would be trimmed, and some con-
tracts would have to be renegotiated
to reflect the sudden funding cut.