Two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week, asking the Pentagon to clearly outline the potential threats of sequestration if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka Super Committee) fails to reach an agreement on at least $1.2 trillion in cuts by Nov. 23 as required by the Budget Control Act. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), both members of the SASC, said they agree with the Defense Department’s assessment that any cuts beyond the anticipated $450 billion over the next 10 years would have a detrimental, and possibly irreversible, effect on the US military. “What is missing from these characterizations, however, is a frank and honest assessment describing in concrete terms what defense spending cuts of this magnitude would entail,” wrote the senators in the letter dated Nov. 3, which was posted online by Politico last week. Graham and McCain acknowledged that the specific outcome cannot be predicted, but asked the Pentagon to address “a range of options” if sequester was to be imposed. Both Houses of Congress have just one month to debate the Super Committee’s recommendations. A law must be enacted by Jan. 15, 2012 in order to avoid the trigger mechanism.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.