Budget Restraints Hampering Agility

The United States cannot have productive conversations about how to proceed with strong armed forces unless sequestration is rolled back, said new House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry on Thursday. Whether it is “on the personnel side … nickel and diming our people to death year-after-year,” or it is across the board cuts of different weapons systems because of budget constraints, “the majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate [agree] that sequestration is significantly hurting defense and needs to be changed,” Thorberry (R-Texas), told reporters during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C. In addition to the things we can see on a daily basis, Thornberry said he is also worried about the future of innovation in the current budget environment. “Because of tight budgets, science and technology are easy to cut,” he said. “I’m worried about short-changing the investments that we’re making today that we will count on tomorrow.” Not only is funding an issue, but the agility of the Defense Department’s procurement system must also be examined. “One characteristic of the world we live in is that it is incredibly volatile and it moves really fast—and that includes technology,” Thornberry said. “If it takes you 24 years to field a fighter aircraft, you’re not keeping up.” And if you’re not keeping up, he said, you become vulnerable to adversarial attacks.