Sequestration isn’t much in the news anymore, as hopes of repealing the cuts have faded. Instead, Congress passed legislation that gives the Defense Department some more discretion in allocating the cuts, which amount to more than $40 billion in this fiscal year alone. Perhaps, you figure, that means that the issue has been dealt with and we don’t have worry about the impact of sequestration on our armed forces.
Actually, the relief provided by Congress has been minimal. The operations and maintenance budget must still take a significant cut and that means that the armed services unfortunately are being forced to trim back their readiness to respond to national security threats. The severity of these cuts is made clear by the Air Force’s announcement, which has not received the attention it deserves, that roughly a third of all combat aircraft are being grounded because of budget woes.
As Stars and Stripes notes: “The Air Force’s budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of fiscal 2013, which makes it impossible to keep all squadrons ready for combat.” Even those aircraft that are kept operational will have reduced flying time, which means that their pilots will be less prepared for combat.
This is a particularly wretched time for such an announcement given the increased tensions on the Korean peninsula. But, frankly, there is never a good time to let our guard down–there are always hot spots that the U.S. armed forces must be prepared to deal with and if they display a lack of readiness, that is an invitation to aggression for our enemies. Let’s just hope that Kim Jong-un doesn’t read Stars and Stripes.