WASHINGTON, D.C.–The U.S. military is getting less money these days because of the country’s debt problem and budget deficit. That has the attention of top military leaders and lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) who are concerned that less money is leading to a weaker defense.
Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the impact of sequestration on the military’s ability to fulfill its missions and meet growing threats around the world.
That was during a Wednesday hearing.
“We have a debt problem in this country,” said Wicker. “We are balancing a spending problem we have in the government overall with a lack of funds in the Defense Department. General Odierno has said that in his 40 years of service, this is the most uncertain time he has seen. The Navy has the fewest ships in its inventory since World War I. As an Air Force veteran, it is astonishing to hear that this is the smallest Air Force since the department was created in 1947.”
The hearing included testimony from Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army Chief of Staff; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations; Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force Chief of Staff; and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Wicker quoted retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, who told the committee on Tuesday that “No nation in history has maintained its military power if it failed to keep its fiscal house in order.”
In regard to sequestration, Wicker asked the panel, “If we were able to give you flexibility within the funding levels and some relief from the rules, to what extent would that help?”
The military officials expressed their desire for flexibility and predictability in relation to funding levels, as well as the need for additional resources to increase readiness and meet strategic needs.