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Army Chief Of Staff: “[Sequestration] has a significant impact on our ability to operate in the Pacific for the next several years”

Washington, D.C. -- Senator Mazie K. Hirono continued to argue against letting the across the board sequestration cuts go into effect today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During her questioning of the nation’s top military leaders, Hirono noted how this morning’s news of a successful nuclear test by North Korea makes the impact of the sequester cuts on military readiness in the Pacific even more important. At the hearing, Hirono asked United States Army Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno to elaborate on the impact that these indiscriminate, across the board cuts would have on military readiness in the Pacific and the United States Pacific Command. 

“I know that there are many potential threats that we face in the world today including many in the Asia Pacific Theatre and only this morning we learned of actions taken by North Korea that are very troubling,” Senator Hirono said at the hearing. “I believe that administration is correct in talking about rebalancing with an emphasis to the Asia Pacific Theater. Secretary Panetta last week said that a sequester would cut naval operations in the Pacific by a third. General Odierno, I would like to ask you about the impacts on the Army’s ability to carry out missions in the PACOM area of responsibility if sequester cuts are put in place.”  

Odierno confirmed sequestration cuts will impact the Army’s ability to operate in the Pacific even as the region becomes more relevant to the nation’s strategic interest.

“First, as I talked about 80% of our force having to stop training this year that includes our forces in Hawai’i, that includes our forces in at Fort Lewis that are in PACOM so they will be significantly degraded capabilities that they would have to respond to anything that goes on within Pacific Command. Additionally, the Army is responsible for providing a significant amount of communication support, intelligence support, logistical support to the PACOM Theater. Their ability to do that will also be affected by sequestrations specifically in the Fiscal Year 13 but beyond. We have tried to fence our capability in Korea to make sure they are at the highest readiness level. We will continue to do that. But the cuts in family programs, cuts in soldier programs, cuts in our civilians will also impact Korea as well. So for us it has a significant impact on our ability in the Pacific for the next several years,” said Odierno.

Yesterday, Senator Hirono warned that sequestration would have a large impact on Hawaii and called on her colleagues to come together to avert these indiscriminate across the board cuts in spending. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that it would affect everything from military spending in Hawaii to defense contracting to Hawaii tourism and education. A George Mason University study projected that the automatic cuts would cost Hawaii 11,000 jobs.

"Clearly, this is not the way to go,” Hirono said yesterday, and urged her colleagues to come together and find a balanced approach to averting the cuts that includes closing loopholes for Big Oil companies, instituting the Buffett Rule, and ending tax giveaways that incentivize companies to ship American jobs overseas.