Sequester Will Take a Steady Toll in Pacific

While several senators on Tuesday attempted to press Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of US Pacific Command, on the effects of sequestration on operations in the Asia-Pacific region, he maintained that those impacts would play out as the Defense Department makes “strategic choices” on where to spend valuable operations and maintenance funds, including the deployments of Air Force combat aircraft. “I think it will depend on how those resources are reprioritized,” Locklear told the senators during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s April 9 hearing. “Where I have concerns is what happens in the near- and mid-term when our overall readiness declines because of the way sequestration has been implemented,” he added. Already, the command has prioritized assets—from ships to aircraft sorties—to make sure it is addressing the most pressing challenges, such as the Korean Peninsula, said Locklear. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked Locklear what the effect will be of the Air Force putting some of its combat fleet in a tiered readiness status. Locklear said force management moves like this would directly affect “follow-on” deployments to PACOM, as Air Combat Command will not have adequate flying hours and adequate training to supply certain requests for forces. “The degradation of our forces will occur with follow-on forces,” said Locklear. “That is the world we live in now.” (Locklear’s prepared statement)