Budget sequestration, if left unaltered, will prove more devastating to US space capabilities than any threat an adversary could think up, warned Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, on Tuesday. If there is no budget flexibility soon, Fiscal 2015 will look very dire, he said in his address at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. “All programs will get broken,” said Shelton. As the United States ends its long engagement in Afghanistan and rebalances its investment portfolio, space assets—from missile warning to weather to GPS satellites—are “must haves” for the American way of war, and their importance to the joint force is only growing, he said. There is a danger in thinking the United States just needs to work on being less reliant on space assets, said Shelton. Due to the difficulties caused by the budget sequester, he said he has had to raid operations and maintenance accounts and sustainment capability, deferring systems engineering and depot maintenance in certain areas, thereby taking on more risk.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.