WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today responded to Gen. John Campbell’s remarks in a SASC hearing Thursday that 1,100 soldiers, including some currently serving in Afghanistan, are receiving pink slips due to sequestration budget cuts to the Department of Defense (DOD).
"Once again the President is putting domestic politics ahead of the security of our nation,” said Inhofe."The Army captains and majors receiving pink slips while on the battlefield is just the latest example. My heart goes out to these men and women who are risking their lives and making great sacrifices yet are now being told they are being separated from the Army and will have no job when they return home to their families. Our military’s readiness and war fighting capability are clearly not the priorities of this President. The alarming cutbacks happening with our military are a direct result of the priorities the President has set for the nation with the resources we have. There are many other programs in the federal government that can be looked at, reformed, and cut, therefore the President owns this issue. These pink slips are just the beginning. If defense sequestration continues, our Army could reach 420,000, which will lead to more troops losing their jobs while on the front lines in the coming years. This is devastating for morale and even worse for our national security."
During the hearing on July 10, Gen. Campbell, the nominee to be commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces, Afghanistan, outlined how sequestration has led to military layoffs and how continued cuts will prevent the military from being able to effectively carryout the Pentagon’s defense strategic guidance.
The transcript is as follows:
GEN. CAMPBELL: "One -- and it was in the paper today, sir, talked about an impact of sequestration, excuse me, and that was on the drawdown of the forces and particularly of our captains and then of our majors there shortly. But recently, we had announced 1,100 majors that we have to take out of the force. They're from your groups, '06, '07 and ’08. And some of these are men and women that are currently serving in Afghanistan. It could be company commanders in Afghanistan that we're asking that they have to -- have to leave the force.
"So that's -- that's hard-hitting. We're going to see that continue. And those numbers and the impact of just those captains and what it means to those families, (inaudible) to bring your Army down from 570 down to 490. We haven't even started talking about 490 down to 450 and then potentially down to 420 if sequestration stays in effect.
"So sequestration will be disastrous, I believe, for your Army. We will not be able to do the defense strategic guidance if sequestration continues to go on after '16, sir."
Inhofe has been an outspoken critic of sequestration budget cuts to defense.
- On June 27, 2012 and July 18, 2012, Inhofe began warning that sequestration cuts taken to defense would lead to furloughs, layoffs and pink slips but that the President would do everything in his power to delay the impact until after his re-election bid.
- On Aug. 1, 2012, Inhofe introduced the Sequestration Prevention Act of 2012, which would have repealed initial defense cuts and replaced it with smart reforms to mandatory entitlement programs and reduced non-defense discretionary spending to more rational levels.
- On Feb. 7, 2013, Inhofe joined Senate Republicans to introduce the Down Payment to Protect NationalSecurity Act, which would deliver approximately $85 billion in savings to pay for sequestration for both defense and non-defense accounts in 2013. The bill would also provide transfer authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) under a continuing resolution consistent with the Defense Authorization Act for FY’2013.
- On Feb.12, 2013, per the request of Inhofe, the Senate Armed Services held a hearing on the impacts of sequestration to national security.
- On Feb. 28, 2013, Inhofe joined by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced S.16, a bill which would grant flexibility to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for FY’13 sequestration cuts. On the same day, it received a bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate but failed to pass due to a veto threat from President Obama.
- In July 2013, Inhofe publicly responded to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s letter to SASC leaders that outlined the Department’s contingency plans if sequestration for fiscal year 2014 is not averted. In the statement, Inhofe said, "As I predicted, sequestration is leading to the hollowing out of our military and if the Department of Defense’s sequestration is not averted for future years, we will move beyond furloughs and programmatic reductions to firing personnel and canceling our critical weapons programs.”
- On Nov. 7, 2013, SASC held another hearing dedicated to the impacts of sequestration on national defense.
Throughout 2014, Inhofe has continued to address in SASC committee hearings his concerns for sequestration’s impact to national defense and has worked with his colleagues to find solutions to prevent deterioration of the nation’s military strength and readiness.