Collateral Damage of Political Gridlock

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he is no longer optimistic that the Pentagon can avoid the devastating blow to its budget from sequestration. “I used to be hopeful and optimistic and now I’m just hopeful,” said Carter in his Feb. 2 remarks at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “What’s tragic is that this is not a result of economic emergency, a recession,” he said of sequestration, which is now set to kick in on March 1 unless Congress prevents it. Nor is sequestration “because defense cuts are the answer to the fiscal challenge,” or “in reaction to a change to a more peaceful world,” or “due to a breakthrough in military technology or a new strategic insight,” he said. Instead, sequestration is “purely collateral damage of political gridlock,” said Carter. If the Pentagon has to take additional steps beyond the already-implemented mitigation efforts, such as civilian hiring freezes, the result would be a “readiness crisis,” and the new US defense strategy would be in jeopardy in the longer term, he said. (Carter transcript)