The return of the sequester monster

posted at 6:31 pm on July 14, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

I bet you thought the sequester story was pretty much dead and gone, didn’t you? Given what a dud the reality of it turned out to be, that’s understandable. But not everyone is done chewing that particular bone, including Chuck Hagel. I noticed this weekend that Dr. Joyner was covering an article from military.com by Tom Philpott with the ominous title of, Freeze Possible On All Promotions, Recruiting.

Failure by Congress to end budget sequestration could force the services in fiscal 2014 to freeze military promotions, suspend recruiting and halt all change-of-station moves, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned in letter Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Automatic budget cuts already are “severely damaging military readiness,” Hagel wrote to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), committee chairman, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican. Without relief, defense spending will take another $52 billion hit in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

If Congress lets that happen, by continuing to refuse to compromise on a debt reduction deal, the Department of Defense will keep a civilian hiring freeze in place, continue to neglect facilities maintenance, deepen cuts to weapon programs and impose “an extremely severe package of military personnel actions including halting all accessions, ending all permanent change-of-station moves, stopping discretionary bonuses and freezing all promotions,” Hagel wrote to introduce a budget “contingency plan.”

Joyner titled his piece including the phrase, “Draconian Personnel Moves” but seems to feel that some of these threats carry more weight than others.

While some of this is standard bureaucratic scare tactics—highlighting programs most visible to the public and to Members—most of it’s legitimate. There are tremendous savings to be had in defense, whether from shuttering unneeded bases, streamlining acquisitions, or even cutting the force to pre-9/11 levels now that the war in Iraq is over and the one in Afghanistan is winding to a close.

The problem, as noted toward the end of the excerpt, is that many of those savings are actually cost money in the short term. Sequestration penalizes prudent fiscal choices because it demands immediate savings.

He certainly has a point there. Some of the cutting measures in the military may not begin showing real budget savings for several years and could potentially cost more in the short term. But they will pay off in the long run, assuming that the military is still effective. It’s the personnel cuts that will get the big headlines, though, and that’s probably what Hagel is betting on in terms of a PR campaign. Cutting recruitment and retention will shrink the roles, but refusing to offer any promotions will take some of the most experienced warriors and technical specialists – the ones we really need to keep – and drive them out the door out of frustration when their current enlistment ends.

This is some hardball gamesmanship here by Hagel, particularly given that Republicans who let the cuts go through will then be accused of “not taking care of the troops.” That’s a tough label to have hung on you coming into another election cycle. But I think most competent observers understand that there are savings to be had in the military budget as well as inside the beltway, so we may just have to push forward and swallow that pill.


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The House should pass a $52 billion bill, restoring the defense budget and let the Senate sit on it.

rhit87 on July 14, 2013 at 6:36 PM

To rip off a commenters comment:

SharkSeQuesteraNado!!
(sarc)

canopfor on July 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Noooooooo!

Not the…
sEqu3stor Monster…

Electrongod on July 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

military.com by Tom Philpott with the ominous title of, Freeze Possible On All Promotions, Recruiting
=======================================

Well Jazz,thats really going to help morale!:)

canopfor on July 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Are the Progressive Ruling class really just the Borg?

They will never have enough power.

PappyD61 on July 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities, letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism. -The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon

Plan B ???

elgeneralisimo on July 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Cutting recruitment and retention will shrink the roles, but refusing to offer any promotions will take some of the most experienced warriors and technical specialists – the ones we really need to keep – and drive them out the door out of frustration when their current enlistment ends.

I recall the Company Commander announcing a promotion freeze towards the end of my first enlistment. He made some snarky comment about “Jimmy Carter’s White House”, but we were pretty in the dark about the whole economic malaise thing going on Stateside. Amazing that our country still can’t get this budget shiz together enough to make a priority of caring for our troops.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Well…the Obama’s are heading for Martha’s Vineyard, again, for a long awaited and much needed vacay…and there are rumors of a South American trip later this year…after that too short African Safari…coming in at just over $100 million total what with all the logistics and stuff…

What sequestration? Lotta gubmint folks still living large, spending like it is going out of style.

All government employees above the grade of GS-12 should be made to take a 25% pay cut immediately, all the rest, 10%…and all political appointees should be made to take a 50% cut across the board, all departments, agencies and other government activities…and the President? Should have to forfeit all of his pay, save one dollar…there are insurance, benefits and other legal reasons to at least give him a nominal pay…and no more damn vacations on our dime…he can vacation all he and Michelle and the girls want after January 2017…on his own damn dime.

Fund the active duty military…salaries and benefits.

The rest? Why?

If your Congress person doesn’t buy into this…vote them out, regardless of party, leanings, or witty things they may say from time to time.

This sequestration is madness…stupidity writ large.

coldwarrior on July 14, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Will it end Zero’s vacations, trips and golf outings? No? Those are somehow more necessary than properly running the military?

Yet another lying socialist jackass.

dogsoldier on July 14, 2013 at 6:54 PM

but refusing to offer any promotions will take some of the most experienced warriors and technical specialists – the ones we really need to keep – and drive them out the door out of frustration when their current enlistment ends.

I would have thought that electing a Marxist, TWICE, as Commander-in-chief would have been frustration enough. If that won’t get rid of them, I doubt if holding up their promotions will do it either.

Cleombrotus on July 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM

SHUT IT ALL DOWN! Then we’ll find out what’s “really important”.

Of course the pols don’t want us finding that out!

GarandFan on July 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

The military has been trying for decades to “close unneeded bases” and every time they try to, a Representative screams bloody murder, and then starts calling in favors to prevent it.

Steven Den Beste on July 14, 2013 at 7:06 PM

The same people crying crocodile tears about “military readiness” have no problem converting the world’s most lethal fighting force into a feminized, politically correct, gay-friendly social experiment.

Travis Bickle on July 14, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Amazing how personally some of these braying jackasses take not being able to spend my money.

Axe on July 14, 2013 at 7:14 PM

I’m calling BS. The defense budget after the sequester is larger than the defense budget before the sequester. The defense budget next year will be larger than the defense budget this year. The military has more money to spend after the “cuts” than before them.

Not buying the “oh, poor me” act.

AngusMc on July 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM

It’s outrageous to treat the military this way, while lavishing benefits and salaries and bonuses on civilian government scum like the IRS drones.

We need a government program to move salaries and benefits and pensions toward a common package for both federal government workers and the military based on level of responsibility and scope of management.

slickwillie2001 on July 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Cut all funding to Washington DC except National defense, emergency responders and Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Shut it down for one full year………WATCH THE ECONOMY SOAR!!!!

PappyD61 on July 14, 2013 at 7:41 PM

I’m calling BS. The defense budget after the sequester is larger than the defense budget before the sequester. The defense budget next year will be larger than the defense budget this year. The military has more money to spend after the “cuts” than before them.

AngusMc on July 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM

You’re ignoring, blatantly IMO, the fact that certain DoD programs are multi-year. Costs for a certain program (ship or aircraft procurement for example), differ from year to year and it all is on a five-year planning cycle.

For the most part, you are right to be cynical but please do so from an informed position instead of the moronic comments you made above.

Happy Nomad on July 14, 2013 at 7:43 PM

When was it that Obaoma spoke about his job as president was to keep the American people safe? Those bad Republicans prevent him from doing his job? Are you packed for our vacation on the Riveria Michelle? My golf foursome are waiting.

Herb on July 14, 2013 at 7:45 PM

The military should exercise their sworn oath and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic. At this point, this nation, no matter who is running it as elected and selected representatives, is on a self destructive course.

The military looks the other way while the Government spends 18% of GDP on extra constitutional (read unconstitutional as the government is granted positive powers, not negative restrictions) liberty destroying activities and they have to scrape by with 4% and declining while they are one of the few explicitly constitutional activities of the government.

astonerii on July 14, 2013 at 7:53 PM

PappyD61 on July 14, 2013 at 7:41 PM

LOL while leaving the two most immoral aspects of our government intact?

astonerii on July 14, 2013 at 7:54 PM

“Cut all funding to Washington DC except National defense, emergency responders and Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.”

You do know that we would still be running deficits funding just those items don’t you? That’s how bad our entitlement problem is.

lowandslow on July 14, 2013 at 8:03 PM

So Hagel is “profiling” responsible military budget cuts?

ChuckTX on July 14, 2013 at 8:07 PM

lowandslow on July 14, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Yup, welfare payments to individuals by the federal government well surpassed 50% of the budget when in 2010 total welfare spending by the federal government was $1,949,000,000,000 our of a budget around $3,600,000,000,000.
Social Security and Medicare being the two single largest contributors.

astonerii on July 14, 2013 at 8:07 PM

coldwarrior on July 14, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Your formula would actually benefit me as a GS-12 because the sequester is giving me a 20% pay cut with the furloughs; but you need to be selective on the blanket 25% above GS-12. Some needed talent could leave to the private sector; but if you are selective it could work. There are lots of things we could do to be cost-effective:

1. Stop using the DOD budget to fund political pork.
2. Give dashboard metrics that actually relate to what our equivalent of the private sector’s stockholders–the taxpayer–really would want. The metrics we have relate to what you are doing now and the way you are doing things now. We need change to something more effective and efficient not a set of metrics that act as a chain to keep us doing what we have been doing. Sadly, right now, if you ask someone in the civilian DOD who their customer is, they do not know; so how do Lean managment principles of only doing things that are of value to your customer even compute.
3. Quit the mandatory training in areas unrelated to our mission.
4. Stop automatically rotating officers every three years. Once they actually get to know what they are managing, they are off to something else. The constant moves cost money and are a drag on military families. If people ask for relocation, that is great; but if they are competent and happy with what they are doing, leave them be.
5. Stop pushing capable people out if they are not promoted. There may not be a higher slot for them but if they are good at what they are doing, why push them out and spend the cost of getting replacements relocated and up to speed.
6. Hire the best qualified candidates for jobs w/o regard to all the special preferences.
7. Have cost saving brainstorming teams in each military facility and shop just like the private sector does.
8. Quit forcing people to spend all their budget by the end of the fiscal year so their budgets won’t be cut. (Use what you need when you need it but only what you need.)
9. GS employees who talk about customer service and saving the taxpayer money are looked at like space aliens. We need to change that.

KW64 on July 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM

The Miramar Air Show in San Diego has been held for over 60 years.
But this year?

Miramar Air Show Grounded
The reason given was department-wide budget cuts as a result of sequestration. The Pentagon comptroller announced in March that all aerial demonstrations would be grounded starting April 1.”
“Problem is, the Miramar Air Show makes money — more than $17 million, according to estimates from previous years.”

mrt721 on July 14, 2013 at 8:15 PM

The return of the sequester monster

…WHAT?…is he back from Africa already?…time for another vacation!

KOOLAID2 on July 14, 2013 at 8:20 PM

“[N]ot taking care of the troops.”

Trust me, every veteran already recognizes the wry “Nothing is too good for the troops.”

PersonFromPorlock on July 14, 2013 at 9:03 PM

KW64 on July 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Having been associated with the defense industry for years, both in and out of the military. You obviously know something about the problem and you are generally right. A lot of the contracting “officers” are poorly trained and affirmative action. They wouldn’t last two weeks in private industry. Thank you LBJ.

Old Country Boy on July 14, 2013 at 9:19 PM

I’m waiting for the Regime to announce that because of the sequester, we have to cut the number of border control agents, hence, allowing the ease of more illegals into the USA and more Democrat voters.

Decoski on July 14, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Ugh!!! I am at the end of my rope with fiscal conservatives thinking the sequester is a “good thing”. News flash its not is going to cost this country A LOT MORE in the long run.

“ He certainly has a point there. Some of the cutting measures in the military may not begin showing real budget savings for several years and could potentially cost more in the short term. But they will pay off in the long run, assuming that the military is still effective. “

And see there is your problem, the military and our national security apparatus is not being run effectively right now and it is not effective with its current budget. I cannot tell you the number of training events that have been canceled because of this thing so far, things like the Citadel Shield, a antiterrorism exorcise that test the military in case there is a terrorist attack on a military base within the United States. But hey we have won the war so why do we need to worry about training for things like that. Or the training missions for the army units that are scheduled to go to Afghanistan. The point about morale is right you have things like the entire blue angels season being canceled (which has never happened) and many of the open air swimming pools on military bases being closed because they have been deemed too expensive. Oh and all Federal law enforcement agencies have stopped hiring because of this, but I am sure we don’t need those guys anyway. Don’t even get me started on the DOD furloughs (for the record I am NOT a DOD civilian but I have several friends who are). The sequester does all of that, but doesn’t do a single thing for things like the IRS taking million dollar junkets to god knows where.
The fact of the matter is that this is fool’s gold; you are getting the satisfaction of cutting a small amount now but it in all of the wrong places. Let not forget this insipid stupid thing was never supposed to happen. It is not like the DOD looked at all of this and said, you know we don’t need that training or maintenance. It’s the exact opposite; there are a lot of people in the DOD who are VERY VERY VERY worried about being to say operationally ready over the next 2-5 years if this insanity keeps up. Those folks in DC need to remove their collective heads out of their hind quarters and fix this. We need to fund our National security. Yes it can have cuts in certain places and god knows our acquisition system needs major reform just look at what happened with all of the different camouflage patterns to see that; but this is not the way to go about it we need to undo this tear it up and start over, preferably with someone who some fiscal sense in charge (Paul Ryan anyone??)

falcaner on July 14, 2013 at 10:14 PM

As a Sequestered Federal Employee I look at the actions by this administration and wonder “Just how stupid do they think we are?”

The government has no less money this year than last year. Even with these sequester cuts we have the same money we had last year, + 3% and they expect us to buy their story while I am enjoying a 20% pay cut because they have less money?

I would like to have an hour behind a national microphone next to one of these dolts.

OldSarg on July 15, 2013 at 6:36 AM

Don’t worry. The ruling elite will still have their “seperate but equal” healthcare, pensions, freedome from laws, regulations and mandates, tax and student loan payment waivers, etc.

acyl72 on July 15, 2013 at 7:23 AM

OldSarg on July 15, 2013 at 6:36 AM

More and more money goes to welfare and social security sponges. Now get your slave self back to work.

astonerii on July 15, 2013 at 8:44 PM