Even without the Budget Control Act’s sequestration mechanism kicking in, “we know there will be much more than $450 billion in defense cuts” in the coming decade, said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove. Addressing AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles last week, Breedlove said the service is planning for far deeper reductions that will result “in our Total Force getting smaller” and putting the nation “at a significant level of risk.” If the sequester does happen—essentially doubling that $450 billion figure—it will result in programmatic chaos, said Breedlove. “Most people don’t understand” how the sequester would work, he said. Every line item “would be cut equally,” meaning that virtually all contracts would be broken, resulting in stop-work fees of frightening proportions and leaving programs in the lurch, he said. Such action overall would be “onerous,” and compel USAF to cut deeply in readiness and modernization, since only they can hit the “hard target” reductions and yield saving in “near years,” he explained. Base closures, for example, would “take years to realize savings,” said Breedlove. “We have to find near-term dollars. We can’t build a slope that ramps over seven or eight years,” he continued. Faced with sequester, the Air Force also would have no choice but to “look at missions” and choose some to stop doing, despite the fact that seemingly every mission USAF performs is in greater demand than ever, he said during his Nov. 18 speech.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.