WASHINGTON — Despite the “dire consequences” to U.S. national security of congressionally-threatened budgetary sequestration, the Pentagon has no plans to mitigate anticipated damage to domestic and international cooperative programs, a DoD official said.
Instead, Pentagon leaders are counting on lawmakers “to do the right thing” and remove legislation mandating an automatic $500 billion in long-term, across-the-board budget cuts before they take effect come Jan. 1, the official said.
“We do not have a Plan B,” Kathleen Hicks, principal Deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told a July 17 gathering here of the U.S. National Guard State Partnership Program.
“Our plan is the budget we presented to the U.S. Congress. That, we believe, marks the responsible contribution by the Department of Defense to debt reduction,” Hicks said in response to a question by Defense News.
In her July 17 address, Hicks warned that further cuts would “undermine strategic interests, undercut our strategic approach and generate unacceptable risks to the nation.”
That said, Hicks said she still believed responsible legislative leaders would remove the offending legislation.
“In our view, it never was intended to get this far,” she said.
In times of budgetary constraint, Hicks insisted that Pentagon plans to expand international partnerships and security cooperation is more important than ever.
“Security cooperation is not only fiscally responsible, it’s a strategic necessity … to share the costs and responsibilities of global leadership,” she said.
Specifically, Hicks cited efforts by the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department to expand foreign military sales, foreign military financing, international military education and training, global train and equip programs and other initiatives she defined as “low-cost, innovative, high-yield and small signature.”
“Alliances and partnerships are a core element of everything we do and everything we hope to accomplish. It’s central to the way we approach the current and future security environment,” Hicks said.
“This does not mean the United States cannot or will not act unilaterally when it is in our interest to do so. But we recognize that it is rare when our interests present us with an occasion where acting unilaterally will be as effective as acting in concert with others.”
Tilting Toward Asia-Pacific
In an address to the same U.S. National Guard gathering, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised efforts to “rebalance” Washington’s State Partnership Program to focus more on the Asia Pacific region.
According to Dempsey, more “intellectual bandwidth” will be invested in the region, along with intensified efforts to engage forces in the region. Finally, Dempsey said more frontline equipment and technology has already started flowing into the region “whereas before it was largely committed to the Middle East.”